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Other Health Problems Caused by Herpes Simplex Virus - Topic Overview

If the herpes simplex virus (HSV) invades a part of the body other than the genital area, it may cause disease in that part of the body. In general, complications are rare. And they usually occur with the first-time (primary) genital herpes outbreak. Some of these complications include:

  • Meningitis, an infection of the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) and tissues (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord.
  • Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. This is usually the result of a viral infection.
  • Inflammation of the lower spinal cord and surrounding nerves. This may result in an inability to urinate, loss of feeling and muscle strength in the legs, and constipation.

Other areas of the body that can be infected with the herpes virus include:

Recommended Related to Genital Herpes

Understanding Genital Herpes -- Treatment

There's no cure for genital herpes, but antiviral treatment can help. Your doctor might prescribe: Zovirax Famvir Valtrex All of these antivirals can be used to shorten or prevent outbreaks. Daily suppressive therapy can reduce the number of outbreaks and potential spread to partners when ulcers are not apparent (called asymptomatic shedding). The newer drugs, Famvir and Valtrex, can be taken less frequently and may be better absorbed and better tolerated in some. During an active...

Read the Understanding Genital Herpes -- Treatment article > >

  • The lips (herpes labialis). These outbreaks are often called cold sores or fever blisters. They are usually mild but may be treated with antiviral medicines if they become severe or more frequent.
  • The hands and fingers (herpetic whitlow). Plastic or rubber gloves prevent its spread.
  • The anus (herpes proctitis). Herpes proctitis is often more severe than other types of genital herpes.
  • The eyes (herpes keratitis). Herpes can be transmitted from the mouth or genitals to the eyes. This can cause blindness if it is not treated early. If your eye is very irritated or if you feel pain in your eye, see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • The liver, lungs, and joints. This occurs mostly in people who have impaired immune systems.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: December 20, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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