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Today in Health & Wellness

Herpes Simplex Infection

Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult

Common Name/Other Name

Herpes, Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex infection is a viral disease caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). Small, painful, fluid-filled blisters or sores that appear on parts of the body, infects the brain and can be transmitted to newborn babies. It is a highly contagious infection that can spread by direct contact with the infected sores or infected area or through sexual activity.

Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1) appears around the mouth, throat, face, eyes and central nervous system. Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 (HSV-2) is the common cause of genital herpes. It spreads through sexual and skin to skin contact. Both HSV types may cause infections in all areas.

  • Herpes labialis or oral herpes (cold sores) - HSV infection on lips, and around the mouth.
  • Herpes gingivostomatitis or orolabial herpes - inflammation of the oral mucosa and gingiva, a combination of gingivitis and stomatitis caused by HSV. Often the initial presentation during 1st herpes infection.
  • Herpes esophagitis - HSV infection of the esophagus. It is characterized by painful swallowing (odynophagia) and difficulty in swallowing (dysphagia).
  • Herpes genitalis or genital herpes - HSV infection on the genitals of male and female, transmitted through sexual intercourse.
  • Herpes whitlow - HSV infection that affects the fingers or thumb by contact with the infected sore (touching).
  • Herpes gladiotorum or wrestler's herpes - a HSV infection common to individuals who participate in contact sports (e.g. wrestling, football/soccer, rugby). Presents as skin ulcerations around the face, ears and neck.
  • Herpes encephalitis and herpes meningitis - HSV affecting the central nervous system or the human brain.
  • Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis - both keratitis and conjunctivitis associated with HSV that affects the eyes.
  • Herpetic sycosis - initial or recurrent HSV infection affecting primarily the hair follicles.
  • Neonatal herpes - a rare but serious condition in which the newborn infant is infected from the mother who is infected with HSV.
  • Pain, itchiness
  • Blistering sores (small red or white bumps) on the mouth, lips or genitals
  • Skin sores or ulcers that bleed or oozes fluid when ruptured
  • Pain during urination (infected on the genitals)
  • Flu-like symptoms during initial outbreak (fever, headaches, lack of appetite, tiredness, swollen lymph nodes)
Risk Factors
  • Having multiple sex partners.
  • Having a weak immune system
  • Neonates or newborn infants at risk if the mother has HSV and is expected to give birth.
Commonly Prescribed Drugs

There are no current drugs that can eradicate HSV infection, however antiviral drugs (acyclovir, valaciclovir, famciclovir) reduce the pain and lessen sores or lesions in the initial outbreak of the virus. These drugs also decrease the frequency and lessen the severity of recurrent infections, and minimize the chance of transmitting the virus to another person. Available in oral and topical preparations.

  • Precaution: Renal and hepatic impairment. Pregnant and lactating women. Infants.
  • Side effects: Headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, skin rashes, gastrointestinal and neurological effects, increased serum bilirubin and liver enzymes.
  • Drug interactions: Probenecid, cimetidine, mycophenolate mofetil, high dose of cyclosporine and tacrolimus, other nephrotoxic drugs.
Treatment and Management
  • Avoid exposure to sunlight
  • Abstain from any form of physical (e.g. kissing) and sexual contact if either partner has herpes outbreak.
  • Practice safe sex. Use of condoms. Take note that the use of condom does not prevent the spread of infection.
  • If pregnant and is positive for HSV infection, let the doctor know. The doctor may prescribe antiviral drugs late in pregnancy to prevent virus outbreak before labor, and may suggest cesarean section for the newborn to avoid the risk of passing the infection.
Home Remedies
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