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Herpes, commonly known as Herpes simplex is a viral infection caused by Herpes simplex virus (HSV). Infections involve the oral cavity, genitals, eyes, and the skin. There are two types of Herpes infections, caused by Herpes simplex virus type I and II. HSV-I infections involve mostly the mouth and lips while type-II involves the genitals. HSV-I (Oral Herpes) causes cold sores around the mouth and lips (herpes labialis) or sometimes only sore throat. It is transmitted by direct body contact or contact with fluids from the infected patients usually by kissing. HSV-II (Genital Herpes) causes sores around the genitals and rectum. It is classified as a sexually transmitted infection and can also be transmitted to infants during birth. First episode of the infection is usually severe but recurrent episodes may become less severe.


Herpes is mainly caused by two types of Herpes simplex viruses:

HSV type-I is involved with lesions of mouth and lips.

HSV type-­II is involved with lesions on and around the genitals.

Both the viruses can affect any part of the body and can be transmitted even if the lesions are not present.

Risk factors

Following factors increase the risk of getting Herpes simplex:

  • Gender: Females are more prone to catching this virus.
  • Unprotected sex: Having sex with an infected partner without protection.
  • Multiple sex partners: People who have more than one sex partner are at a higher risk of getting this infection.
  • Infected mother: During childbirth, this virus can be transmitted from the infected mother to the unborn.
  • Weak immune system: People with weakened immune system are susceptible to all kinds of infections.

Oral Herpes:

  • Cold sore around the mouth, or lips area. They may also occur inside the mouth (on the gums, or the palate)
  • There may be pain, or itching before the lesion appears
  • Once the sores appear, it may become difficult to eat or drink.
  • Fever, tiredness, irritability and muscle pains may occur.

Genital Herpes:

  • Sores, or blisters in the affected area (rectal area, buttocks or thighs)
  • Itching, burning, tingling or pain around the affected area
  • Fever tiredness, irritability and muscle pains may also occur.


  • A red, itchy rash which starts from the face, chest or back, and spreads over the rest of the body with time. Blisters and eventually scabs form in
  • the rash.
  • Tiredness, headache, decreased appetite and fever.

Shingles or Herpes Zoster:

  • A tingling sensation, or itching
  • Rashes or blisters along with a burning, shooting pain
  • In some cases, when the face is affected, vision or hearing may also be affected.

To reach a diagnosis, your doctor will ask your complete medical history and do a physical examination. HSV is usually diagnosed by examining the sores. To confirm the diagnosis, your doctor may opt:

  1. Viral culture: In this test, your doctor will take a sample of fluid from the lesion and confirm it in the lab.
  2. Antibody test: If no sores are present, your doctor may run a test for antibodies to the virus.
  3. Skin biopsy: A sample is taken from lesion to examine it.

Although, there is no treatment for Herpes but following medicines can help decrease the frequency of outbreaks, and relieve the symptoms:

  1. Anti-viral: Medicines like acyclovir and Valaciclovir have been found helpful for the treatment of Herpes Labialis and Herpes in cancer patients.
  2. Analgesics: Medicines like ibuprofen and paracetamol can reduce the pain in fever in herpes patients.
  3. Topical medicines: Topical medicines are also used to relieve symptoms like itching and pain. Prilocaine, Lidocaine, and tetracaine have been found effective.
When to consult a doctor?

Consult your doctor immediately if you have symptoms of an eye infection, throat infection, erythema multiforme (immune reaction to infection, causing rashes and target lesions) or if your condition worsens.

Available Medicine for Herpes

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