What does HSV mean?

Herpes simplex virus is a virus that causes an STI of the same name. It occurs naturally only in humans.

The lesions produced include watery blisters in the skin, or on mucous membranes of the mouth, lips, nose, or genitals.

HSV Infection Circle

Types of HSV:

There are 2 types of HSV viruses:

  • HSV 1: It causes lesions around the mouth. It is transmitted by direct contact (kissing), or by droplets.
  • HSV 2: It causes lesions around the genitals, and is transmitted by sexual contact.

HSV Clinical Features:

Primary infection:  The primary infection is acquired during childhood, 2-5 years by human sources like saliva, secretions, and skin lesions. Receiving oral sex from somebody who has cold sores around their mouth is a potential for risk for getting infected.

Primary infection with genital herpes may be severe and includes blisters and ulcerations on the external genitalia. Females may have vaginal and cervical lesions, vaginal discharge, pain, itching, and pain while urinating.

Recurrent infection:  Symptoms are less severe and last for less time. They include burning or tingling around genitals, before the onset of blisters. Females have ulceration and blisters on the cervix.

Transmission Of HSV :

  • Direct contact with oral secretions.
  • Unprotected vaginal or anal sex, genital contact

Complications, if left untreated:

  • In pregnancy: Herpes infection during pregnancy has a risk of miscarriage, premature labor, retarded growth, or transmission of the herpes infection to the child. Herpes in newborn babies can be a very serious condition.
  • Ophthalmic complications: Diseases associated with intrauterine and neonatal infection with HSV can present as kerato-conjunctivitis or, later, as chorioretinitis (inflammations of different parts of the eye).
  • Visceral HSV: may cause dysphagia (difficulty in swallowing), sub-sternal pain (in the chest) and weight loss. It may involve the respiratory tract causing trachea-bronchitis and pneumonitis (inflammations of different parts of the breathing passages and lungs).

Nervous system: HSV meningitis, the rate is the most common sporadic acute viral encephalitis, HSV meningitis HSV encephalitis.

Is HSV curable?

It is not curable but is easily preventable.

What should I do if I suspect an HSV infection?

If HSV is suspected, visit the nearest dermatologist or physician.

Where can I get HSV testing?

Blood test for HSV is easily available at all the Government and Private labs.

Get Testing For HSV Profile

How can HSV be avoided?

Barrier protection is useful for preventing transmission of genital herpes infection.


Dr Arun K Mehra

DrArun K Mehra is a Senior Consultant in Anesthesiology and Critical Care, working in Delhi. An MBBS from UCMS, Delhi University, he specialized in Anesthesiology from JNMC, AMU, Aligarh. He has also done an MBA in Healthcare Administration from the Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi University, a UNESCO Certificate on Principles of Bio Ethics and Human Rights, and a Diploma in Creative Writing in English from the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

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