Cold Sore (Herpes Simplex)


Cold sore or herpes simplex infection is a common viral infection that presents with localized blistering.

Types of herpes simplex:

  • Type 1 HSV is mainly associated with oral and facial infections.
  • Type 2 HSV is mainly associated with genital and rectal infections.

Causes herpes infections and outbreaks

  • Herpes simplex virus is transmitted by direct or indirect contact with someone with active herpes simplex.
  • Asymptomatic shedding of the virus in saliva or genital secretions can also lead to transmission of herpes simplex virus. 
  • Primary herpes simplexPrimary infection with herpes simplex virus can be mild or subclinical, but symptomatic infection tends to be more severe than recurrences.

Recurrences of herpes virus can be triggered by:

  • Minor trauma, surgery or procedures to the affected area
  • Upper respiratory tract infections
  • Sun exposure
  • Hormonal factors (prior to menstruation)
  • Emotional stress
  • In many cases, no reason for the eruption is evident

Treatment of herpes simplex

Although there is no cure for genital herpes, the infection can be managed with antiviral drug therapy and self-care measures.

  • Antiviral medications — Three antiviral medications are used to treat genital herpes
  • Treatment regimen — The dose and length of treatment depends upon whether the outbreak is the first episode or is a recurrence.

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