(Nongenital Herpes Simplex Infections)
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
- Herpes simplex infections (nongenital cold sores) facts
- What are herpes simplex infections?
- What causes cold sores?
- What makes herpes (cold sores) recur?
- How do cold sores spread?
- What are the signs and symptoms of cold sores?
- What is primary oral herpes?
- What does recurrent herpes look like?
- How long do cold sores last?
- What are the risk factors for herpes simplex infections?
- What are the possible complications of oral herpes (cold sores)?
- What is the prognosis for oral herpes (cold sores)?
- What other conditions can look like oral herpes (cold sores)?
- What is angular stomatitis?
- What are canker sores?
- How is oral herpes diagnosed?
- What is the treatment for cold sores, are there any home remedies, and what medications are used?
- Is it possible to prevent cold sores?
- Cold Sores Slideshow
- Adult Skin Problems Slideshow
- Take the Skin Conditions Quiz
- Patient Comments: Herpes Simplex Infections (Cold Sores) - Describe Your Experience
- Patient Comments: Herpes Simplex Infections (Cold Sores) - Treatments
- Patient Comments: Herpes Simplex Infections (Cold Sores) - Symptoms
- Patient Comments: Herpes Simplex Infections (Cold Sores) - Diagnosis
Herpes simplex infections (nongenital cold sores) facts
- Herpes simplex virus (HSV) can cause infections that affect the mouth, face, genitals, skin, buttocks, and the anal area.
- Of the two herpes simplex viruses (HSV 1 and HSV 2) that are associated with skin lesions, cold sores are most commonly caused by HSV-I.
- HSV infection may not produce symptoms, but when it does, the hallmark symptom is a group of blisters on a red base. These blisters dry up rapidly and leave scabs that last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.
- The virus resides deep in the nerve roots and may reactivate at a later time, causing the same symptoms in the same location.
- Cold sores can be treated with antiviral medications to reduce pain and shorten healing time.
What are herpes simplex infections?
Herpes simplex virus (HSV) can cause infections that affect the mouth, face, genitals, skin, buttocks, and the anal area. This article will concentrate on nongenital herpes. Many people acquire the virus and have no symptoms. For others, painful blisters appear near the area where the virus entered the body. Typically, the blisters heal completely but reappear at some point in the future when least expected (or desired). In between attacks, the virus resides deep in the roots of the nerves that supply the involved area. When herpes simplex lesions appear in their most common location, around the mouth and lips, people often refer to them as "cold sores" or "fever blisters."
What causes cold sores?
There are two types of HSV, type 1 and type 2. In general, HSV-1, also known as herpes labialis, causes infections above the waist, most commonly as oral "cold sores." HSV-2 infections occur mainly below the waist, leading to genital herpes. However, both types of HSV are capable of infecting the skin at any location on the body.
Herpes infections, no matter where they occur first, have a tendency to recur in more or less the same place. Such recurrences may happen often (for example, several times per year) or only occasionally (for example, once or twice a year).
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