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Herpes simplex, labial herpes

What is it?

Herpes is an infection caused by Herpes simplex virus. The contact with the virus usually occurs in childhood, but often the disease does not manifest itself by that time. The virus enters the skin, and traversing a nerve, settles on the body in a latent form, until the time when it is able to reactivate.

The reactivation of the virus can occur due to various precipitating factors such as exposure to intense sunlight, physical and mental fatigue, emotional stress, fever or other infections that reduce the organic immunity.

Some people are more likely to exhibit symptoms of herpes. Others, even in contact with the virus, never exhibit the disease, because their immunity does not allow its development.

Characteristics and symptoms

The most common locations are the lips and genital area, but herpes can appear anywhere on the skin. Once reactivated, herpes presents itself as follows below.

Initially there may be itching and burning at the site where the injuries arise. After that, it forms vesicles (small blisters) grouped like a bouquet of flowers, on a reddish and swollen skin. The vesicles burst, releasing fluid rich in virus and forming a wound. It is the phase of greatest danger of disease transmission. In some days, the wound begins to desiccate forming a crust that leads to healing. The duration of this process is around 5-15 days.


The following precautions should be taken during an outbreak of herpes:

  • treatment should be initiated as soon as the first symptoms arise, so the outbreak will be of less intensity and duration;
  • avoid bursting vesicles;
  • avoid kissing or talking too close to other people, especially children if the location of the herpes is the lip;
  • avoid sex intercourse if located in the genital area;
  • always wash hands thoroughly after handling wounds because the virus can be spread to other parts of the body, especially the mucous membranes of the eyes, mouth and genitalia.

Treatment should be guided by your dermatologist, who can determine the most appropriate medicines for your case, depending on the intensity. Medication can be for local use (in the form of creams or solutions) or oral administration.

When the recurrences of herpes are very common, immunity must be stimulated to fight the virus. Triggering phenomena should be avoided. A healthy lifestyle can be helpful.

The effectiveness of vaccines against herpes are much discussed, showing good results in some patients but no results in others.

Related articles

- Genital herpes
- Herpes zoster

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