Herpes Simplex Infections (Non-Genital) (cont.)
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.
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.
In this Article
- 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 possible complications of 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?
What does recurrent herpes look like?
By far the most common manifestation of herpes
- Labial herpes: This is the familiar cold sore that appears on the lip margins (labial refers to the lip). When labial herpes reappears, it usually occurs at the same location each time or a few millimeters away.
- Herpetic whitlow: Sometimes, the herpes virus shows up on the fingertip. This is especially common in dental and medical workers who have to put their fingers inside people's mouths, despite the use of gloves. In herpetic whitlow, the virus has entered the finger. Occasionally, the virus re-emerges and causes blister-like sores on the fingertip.
- Wrestlers' herpes: This has the picturesque name "herpes gladiatorum." Gladiators, or nowadays just plain wrestlers, can contract herpes from an opponent who is shedding the virus. This form of herpes can appear anywhere over the body. The face, neck, and arms are common locations. Unlike most other types of infection, lesions may occur at multiple sites.
How long do cold sores last?
In recurrent herpes, sores start as inflamed red spots that swell and become fluid-filled forming blisters. The blisters eventually collapse and form an ulcer. This will take two to three days. It often takes seven to 10 days before these ulcers completely disappear and the skin returns to normal.
In primary herpes, the healing process usually takes two to three weeks, but skin pain can last for one to six weeks.
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