Herpes simplex

Localised infection on the lips or genitalia caused by the herpes virus.

A virus that produces a painful blister, called a cold sore, usually on the lips.

A sexually transmitted disease which forms blisters in the genital region.

Infections caused by one of the two forms of herpes simplex virus (HSV), producing sores generally on the mouth or genital area, the latter being a form of sexually transmitted disease.

Recurrent, painful clusters of blisters, erupting on the lips or nose and caused by infection with herpes simplex virus type 1; after the initial infection the virus is dormant in the skin until triggers of stress, sunlight, illness, or menstruation cause it to erupt again.

An acute infectious disease, characterized by the development of groups of superficial vesicles, or blebs, in the skin and mucous membrane. It is due to either simplex type 1 or 2 virus, and infection can occur at any time from birth onwards; however the usual time for primary infection with type 1 is between the second and 15th year. Once an individual is infected, the virus persists in the body for the rest of their life. It is one of the causes of scrum-pox. Type 2 causes herpes genitalis.

Recurring viral infection that often presents as a fever blister or cold sore.

Herpes simplex is a widespread viral infection that presents itself as tiny blisters filled with fluid. The disease is contagious, typically transmitted through direct contact. Generally, most instances of this infection are relatively mild.

The herpes simplex virus exists in two forms: type 1 (HSV1) and type 2 (HSV2). Most individuals contract HSV1 at some point, often during their childhood years. HSV1 primarily causes infections on the lips, mouth, and face, while HSV2 is typically associated with genital infections and those contracted by newborns during birth. It’s crucial to note that there’s a significant overlap between the two types. As such, occasionally, conditions typically attributed to HSV1 may be caused by HSV2 and vice versa.

The first encounter with the infection can be asymptomatic, or it may result in a flu-like condition accompanied by mouth ulcers. Following this, the virus goes into a dormant state within the nerve cells located in the facial region. In many individuals, the virus reactivates intermittently, leading to the emergence of cold sores, which typically appear at the same location, often around the lips.

In some cases, if a person touches a cold sore and then their finger, the virus can lead to a painful outbreak known as a herpetic whitlow. Additionally, HSV1 can cause a widespread blistering skin rash, known as eczema herpeticum, in individuals who already have a skin disorder like eczema. This condition may be severe enough to warrant hospitalization. If the virus manages to infect an eye, it can result in conjunctivitis, which generally lasts only a few days. In more severe cases, it could lead to a corneal ulcer.

In rare cases, HSV1 can migrate to the brain, resulting in encephalitis. Moreover, the virus might trigger a possibly life-threatening widespread infection in an individual with an immune deficiency or in someone who is taking immunosuppressive medications.

HSV2 is typically responsible for sexually transmitted genital herpes, characterized by the emergence of painful blisters in the genital region. For some individuals, these blisters have a tendency to reappear over time.

The approach to treating herpes simplex hinges on factors like its variant, location, and the intensity of the symptoms. Antiviral medications, for instance, aciclovir, can be beneficial, especially when administered early during the infection.