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Any of several infections caused by the herpes simplex virus of the genus Simplexvirus or by the varicella-zoster virus, a herpes virus of the genus Varicellavirus. Herpes infections are characterized by painful blisters on the skin or a mucous membrane and are highly contagious. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. Varicella-zoster infection is also called shingles.

Types 1 and 2 of this common virus affect humans. Type 1 HSV produces mucocutaneous lesions, predominantly of the head and neck ,whilst type 2 disease is a sexually transmitted anogenital infection
Skin Eruptions and Pain. The first time a person experiences a herpes simplex outbreak, skin eruptions appear 2 - 12 days after the initial exposure to the virus.

  • The first sign of infection is fluid accumulation (edema) at the infection site, which is quickly followed by small, grouped blisters -- the characteristic HSV lesions.
  • These form on an inflamed skin base, which is more visible in dry skin areas.
  • The blisters then dry out and heal rapidly without scarring within 7 - 10 days. Blisters in moist areas heal more slowly than others. The lesions may sometimes itch, but itching decreases as lesions heal.
  • When the crust falls off, the lesions are no longer contagious. (The virus may still be active in nearby tissue, but such persistence is rare.)
  • Once HSV gains entry to a site in the body, the virus can also spread to nearby mucosal areas through nerve cells. This characteristic spreading can cause fairly large infected areas to erupt at some distance from the initial crop of sore
  • usually develop within 2 to 20 days after contact
  • could continue up to 2 weeks
  • may be so mild it goes unnoticed
  • may take longer or be less severe in some people, especially in those with partial immunity to the virus from having facial herpes, e.g. cold sores.
  • in the first attack sometimes causes visible sores
  • last between 10 - 21 days
  • is usually painful and may itch, burn or tingle, during the outbreak. 
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