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Herpes Simplex Infections (Non-Genital) (cont.)

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What are the possible complications of oral herpes (cold sores)?

"Autoinoculation" from touching a cold sore on the lip can cause herpes of the finger (herpetic whitlow). Autoinoculation occurs most commonly at the time of primary infection, when viral shedding is high and the immune system is still gearing up to contain it. The antibodies that are made after primary infection are usually -- but not always -- successful in preventing autoinoculation during recurrent attacks.

A more serious complication is infection of the eye, or ocular herpes (herpetic keratitis). It may be a mild surface ulceration with little discomfort, or it may cause deeper, painful ulcers that threaten vision. Ocular herpes is also caused by autoinoculation. If not treated, ocular herpes may lead to serious damage or even blindness.

Rarely, herpes simplex may infect the brain, causing encephalitis. This infection requires hospitalization and intravenous antiviral medications. HSV-1 is among the commonest causes of fatal viral encephalitis worldwide.

In immunocompromised people, such as those with HIV infection or those receiving chemotherapy, severe outbreaks of herpes may occur. Colds sores may spread to large parts of the lower face or invade organs. Antiviral drugs are used to prevent or lessen such attacks.

In a few people, outbreaks of herpes will be associated with erythema nodosum. Erythema nodosum is an inflammatory skin reaction characterized by red and painful skin lumps that usually appear on the front side of the legs. This condition can be caused by many inflammatory and infectious diseases, including herpes virus infections. Erythema nodosum can be self-limited and resolve on its own in three to six weeks. Treatment of the herpes episode usually hastens the resolution of erythema nodosum.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/14/2017

Source: MedicineNet.com
https://www.medicinenet.com/herpes_simplex_infections_non-genital/article.htm

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