Herpes simplex (HSV) is a viral infection that is commonly referred to as cold sores or fever blisters. It is a recurrent condition that presents with localised blisters on a red base.
HSV is transmitted by direct or indirect contact with someone with active herpes simplex, which is infectious for 7–12 days.
Itching or burning is followed by a cluster of small, closely grouped, vesicles on a red base that normally heal within a week. HSV can be confirmed by a viral swab taken from fresh vesicles.
Erythema multiforme, characterised by target lesions, is a known complication
Recurrences can be triggered by:
- Skin trauma, surgery or procedures
- Sun exposure
- Emotional stress
- Cold and flu
Prevention and treatment
- Sun protection
- Continuous use of antiviral drugs as prevention
- Mild uncomplicated eruptions require no treatment
- Oral antiviral drugs can be used to shorten attacks