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Treatment of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection in immunocompetent patients

Robyn S Klein, MD, PhD
Section Editor
Martin S Hirsch, MD
Deputy Editor
Jennifer Mitty, MD, MPH


Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) may cause vesicular lesions of the lips and oral mucosa. HSV-1 can also lead to clinical disease in a wide variety of other anatomic locations, including the genitalia, liver, lung, eye, and central nervous system.

The treatment of primary and recurrent HSV-1 infections in the immunocompetent host will be reviewed here. The epidemiology, clinical manifestations, diagnosis and prevention of this infection are discussed elsewhere. (See "Epidemiology of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection" and "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection" and "Prevention of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection in immunocompetent patients".)

The treatment and prophylaxis of HSV-1 infections in the immunocompromised patient are discussed elsewhere. (See "Prevention of infections in hematopoietic cell transplant recipients".)


The principal clinical manifestation of primary HSV-1 infection is gingivostomatitis, sometimes associated with pharyngitis.

Reactivation of prior HSV-1 infection occurs in the trigeminal sensory ganglion. Reactivation may lead to cutaneous, and more commonly, mucocutaneous disease, known as herpes labialis, which occurs along the vermillion border of the lip. In general, symptomatic primary HSV infections (ie, initial HSV infection in a seronegative host) are associated with an increased risk of constitutional symptoms, a longer duration of lesions, and prolonged viral shedding compared with recurrent disease. (See "Clinical manifestations and diagnosis of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 29, 2017.
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