Other health problems caused by herpes simplex virus

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

  • The lips (herpes labialis). These outbreaks, often called cold sores or fever blisters, are usually mild but may be treated with antiviral medications 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.
  • Infection of the fluid (cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF) and tissues (meninges) that surround the brain and spinal cord. Such infections include:
    • Meningitis.
    • Encephalitis.
    • Inflammation of the lower spinal cord and surrounding nerves, possibly resulting in an inability to urinate, constipation, and loss of feeling and muscle strength in the legs.
  • Widespread infection, including viral infections of the liver, lungs, and joints. This occurs mostly in people who have impaired immune systems.

Last Updated: January 13, 2009

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