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General Dermatology


Herpes Simplex Virus

A group of viral infections that cause sores on the mouth (oral herpes) or genitals (genital herpes).. There are two types of Herpes Simplex Virus:

  • Herpes Simplex Type 1 with herpes simplex 1, you generally have small, fluid-filled, clear blisters that most often occur on the face but can occur in other locations. Usually people catch this virus during childhood by coming in close contact with an infected family member or friend. An estimated 50 to 80 percent of the adult population has herpes simplex 1.
  • Herpes Simplex Type 2 lesions that appear on the genitalia and buttocks are often caused by herpes simplex 2. Approximately one out of five people in the U.S. have genital herpes and many do not realize it. The primary symptoms of genital herpes are sores, vesicles or ulcers that look like small pimples. These sores may crust over and develop a scab. Because the herpes lesions can be mild, people may mistake genital herpes for insect bites, jock itch or a vaginal yeast infection.
  • Genital herpes is diagnosed through a viral culture test of the blister fluid from a lesion and blood tests. There is no known cure. Treatment is designed to reduce pain and hasten healing and includes antiviral medications. For people with more severe, prolonged or frequent outbreaks, your dermatologist may prescribe a stronger antiviral drug.

With both herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2, small, painful, fluid-filled blister clusters generally appear on the skin, mouth, lips, eyes or genitals. Fever and fatigue may also accompany these viruses.

Because these viruses remain in the body and periodically reactivate, there is no cure for herpes simplex 1 or herpes simplex 2. Creams and ointments can shorten the healing time and duration of cold sores.

Doctors often prescribe anti-viral medications during re-occurrences of herpes simplex 2 which make patients more comfortable and lessen the length of the outbreak. People who suffer from frequent outbreaks may need suppression therapy with antiviral medications.




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