Herpes infection: what you need to know

Herpes simplex infections are of two kinds—HSV-1 and HSV-2. Of these, HSV-1 is spread through oral contact, while HSV-2 is spread through sexual contact, and is also known as genital herpes. Both these infections can cause ulcers or blisters at the site of infection and range from mild to severe forms. Herpes is treated by Internal medicine specialist in Lahore through antiviral medication.



This virus is very common and contagious. It spreads through oral secretions and sores on the skin. Sharing eating utensils, lipsticks or lip balms or toothbrushes can cause spread of virus. Throughout the world, HSV 1 is considered an endemic with an estimated 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 being affected by it. This is why most people acquire this infection during childhood, and reinfection can occur later on in life.

HSV-1 causes open sores or blisters around or in the mouth, referred to as “cold sores”. This is why type 1 herpes is also called orolabial or oral-facial herpes. Infected people experience tingling sensation or itching right before the appearance of the sore. After the initial infection, these sores can potentially reoccur later on in life. In fact, many people experience multiple recurrences, but the frequency of recurrence varies from person-to-person and their immunity.

In certain cases, HSV-1 infection can remain asymptomatic as well. Nevertheless, the absence of sores is not an indication of being non-contagious. People can still pass HSV-1 onto other people even when there is no sore, and the skin appears normal. The period of high infectivity, however, is that with active sores.

In people who are immunocompromised—such as those with chronic diabetes, cancer or advanced HIV infection, oral-facial herpes shows frequent recurrences and has higher odds of leading to complications. HSV-1 complications include severe eye infections involving the cornea—keratitis, and brain infection—encephalitis.



HSV-2 is almost always caused by sexual contact. This type of herpes is known as genital herpes, infection with which is lifelong. Genital herpes is also a global issue, with higher prevalence in older individuals.

The infectivity of HSV-2 is quite high, even though individuals who have it experience no or mild symptoms. Like HSV-1, the prevalence of HSV-2 is also quite high. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 20 percent of adults in the US who are sexually active have contracted HSV-2 in their lifetime. The risk factors for contracting HSV-2 include: multiple sexual partner, sexual contact at a young age, being female, having another STD, and a weak immune system.


Neonatal herpes

Pregnant women who have genital herpes at the time of delivery of the child, can transmit the infection to the baby as it passes through the birth canal, causing neonatal herpes. This serious condition can lead to advanced neurologic deficit in the baby and can even lead to death. The chances of neonatal herpes are greatest when the mother contracts it during late pregnancy as the levels of the virus in the genital tract are highest then.

Herpetic lesions can be painful and recurrent. Help from a healthcare professional, like Internal medicine specialist in Karachi is essential for proper management of disease.

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