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Herpes or more scientifically Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is a viral disease affecting the skin and mucous membranes. Each infectious episode, that is to say when the virus wakes up temporarily, is called "Herpes outbreak". Fatigue, stress or even the sun are known triggers of the disease.


what is herpes?

HSV-1 infection is common and occurs worldwide. Generally, these highly contagious infections are contracted during childhood and persist throughout life. They mostly affect the inside or around the mouth, however a small proportion of genital HSV-1 infections exist.

In 2012, the WHO (World Health Organization) estimated that 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 were affected by herpes type 1. It is in Africa that the number of cases of infections was the most important and in America it was the lowest.

Regarding genital HSV-1 infection, the WHO estimated that 140 million people aged 15 to 49 were affected by the disease. This type of HSV-1 infection occurs mainly in America, Europe and the Western Pacific. Note that in Africa, genital herpes manifests itself especially in children instead of adults, before the onset of sexual activity.

The virus is transmitted by direct contact with the oral mucosa, causing an orofacial or labial infection. It can also be the cause of genital herpes during oral-genital intercourse. More rarely, a mother can transmit genital herpes to her child during childbirth.



Oral herpes is usually asymptomatic (without symptoms), so carriers of the infection often ignore their condition. The lesions of HSV-1 infection are commonly called "cold sores", which are small, open, painful sores inside or around the mouth. Before the lesions appear, patients experience tingling, itching, or a burning sensation around the mouth.

After an initial outbreak of herpes, the lesions may reappear from time to time. The frequency of recurrences varies widely from one person to another.

HSV-1 genital herpes may go unnoticed due to the absence of symptoms or may manifest as genital or anal vesicular or ulcerative lesions. Recurrences are rare but possible.

The infection can also have a psychological impact on patients with an impairment in their quality of life. In particular, they must face, in addition to annoying symptoms, the stigma and social judgment of their peers. In addition, genital herpes can have an impact on sex.


Diagnosis and treatment

A medical examination by the attending physician is sufficient to diagnose herpes. Sometimes, samples from the lesions may be necessary to confirm the presence of the virus.

The infection is treated with an antiviral medication (such as aciclovir) by mouth. It reduces the severity and frequency of symptoms without curing herpes since it does not eliminate the "dormant" viruses that can reactivate. During a first infection, this treatment can be combined with an analgesic to relieve the pain.


HSV-1 is most contagious during outbreaks with symptoms, however, it can also be spread if there is no symptoms or lesion.

Thus, during orofacial lesions, it should be avoided and this until the symptoms disappear:

• Any oral contact with others;

• Sharing objects in contact with saliva;

• Orogenital sex.

The correct condom can prevent the spread of genital herpes. Of course, it does not prevent transmission from lesions in areas not covered by the condom.

Pregnant women should alert healthcare professionals involved in monitoring the onset of symptoms. It is essential to prevent a new infection, especially at the end of pregnancy when the risk for the child is the highest.

Ne pas supprimer SVP

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