Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1

Herpes simplex virus type 1 is one of the two types of herpes simplex viruses; it may also be called HSV-1. This virus is more common than its counterpart and is the culprit for oral sores or cold sores. Herpes simplex virus type 1 may also cause genital herpes but most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2.

Herpes simplex virus type 1 is usually transmitted through touching the oral secretions on the skin. Direct contact to an infected person through kissing or sharing personal items like eating utensils and handkerchiefs are the most common ways to spread HSV-1. Both types of viruses may be spread even when there are no noticeable sores or blisters. Here are more herpes simplex virus type 1 facts:
Herpesvirus type 1 infection in head

  • HSV-1 is a kind of herpes virus that only affects humans.
  • Although mouth sores are very common in children, it can affect adults as well in any time of the year.
  • HSV-1 infection is made of three stages. Primary infection or stage 1 is when the virus enters the body through small breaks in the skin or mucous membrane. It is in stage 1 when a person develops oral sores and fever. Latency period or stage 2 is after the virus wreaks havoc it searches for a nerve where it can hold on to and reproduce. This happens even without any noticeable symptoms. The virus becomes inactive but becomes reactivated when the body becomes compensated or the immune system is weakened. Recurrence or stage 3 is when the virus in the nerve root has become active once more. When a person is stressed, fatigued, have hormonal imbalances and has other medical conditions, the HSV-1 may recur.

Symptoms of HSV-1

Symptoms of herpes simplex virus type 1 may vary depending on the time of the infection. During the incubation period which is the time between the person is exposed to the virus to the time the first symptom appear, there is little to no sign that you have been infected. Some however feel weak, uneasy and feverish which lasts from 2 to 12 days averaging 4 days.

During the duration of the illness, which is from two to three weeks, an infected person will develop the following signs and symptoms:

  1. Pain on the affected site and in the case of oral sores, there is pain around the mouth and on the lips even before the first sore appears.
  2. Sores appear almost after you feel pain on your lips and on the surrounding areas of the mouth. There is intense pain and itching which could affect eating, talking, speaking and drinking. Sores may appear on the lips, skin around the mouth, the gums, inside the cheeks, the tongue, throat and even along the roof of the mouth.

Sores start out as small bumps and blisters which may group together to form a large sore. These blisters erupt and ooze liquid that are filled with viruses. As these blisters dry out and begin to heal, they may look like small shallow ulcerated skin with a red base. Over a few days to a week, the sores develop crusts and become scabbed. The hallmark yellow color appears and sores become dry as well.

  1. There is also pain on the neck as lymph nodes swell. This is extremely painful which may also be accompanied by high fever, sore throat, colds and cough. There is a noticeable greyish coat on the tonsils which are very common in teens and young adults.
  2. There is an undeniable feeling of weakness and restlessness as you worry about your illness. Seeing your face with oral sores is also very depressing which can also lead to stress and possibly poor compliance to important preventive measures to reduce spread of the virus.

HSV-1 Labial Herpes

Diagnosis of HSV-1

Herpes simplex virus type 1 is diagnosed by careful assessment of the signs of symptoms presented by the patient. A doctor or dermatologist will also make careful analysis of the appearance of your blisters and rashes to be able to accurately gauge the best treatment available for your condition. Doctors may also get tissue samples from your blisters to accurately make a diagnosis. There may be more procedures to diagnose HSV -1 infection like staining tests and antigen and antibody studies.

Treatment of HSV-1

Treatment for HSV-1 includes taking care of various symptoms that accompany the illness. Mild symptoms are self-limiting but severe symptoms are usually treated with antiviral medications.

  • Treatment of HSV-1 starts with a visit to your doctor. He will make a careful assessment of your condition and will conduct tests to determine if you are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1. Skin tests with the use of tissue samples are done to make concrete diagnosis. Your doctor will gauge if you need to use antiviral medications since most HSV-1 infections may just self-limit or go away without any treatment at all.
  • Antiviral medications like acyclovir and valacyclovir are the most commonly prescribed medications to treat the symptoms of herpes. Antiviral medications act by interrupting the replication of viral DNA which interferes with the reproduction of new viruses. These will reduce the symptoms like pain, itching and possibly promote better healing of blisters or sores. Antiviral medications are prescription medications and there are several medications that may interfere with their therapeutic use. You must notify your doctor if you have other medical illness as well as taking medications for these and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Symptoms like fever and pain may be controlled by taking pain relief medications and by practicing home treatment measures like using cold compresses and tepid sponge baths. Itching of the blisters and sores may be relieved by applying cold compress or ice on the site. Never apply anti-itch ointments or creams on open or oozing blisters. Advise patient not to touch or pick his blisters.
  • Bed rest and temporary cessation of work or school is recommended for people who are infected with HSV-1, this will help the body recover faster and to allow the immune system to fight the virus as well. Eating well and taking more fluids than usual is advised; taking more water and fluids will reduce fever and will help prevent dehydration which is also possible side effects of taking antiviral medications.

Prevention of HSV-1

The best way to prevent the spread of herpes simplex virus type 1 is to practice cleanliness and personal hygiene. Wash your hands every time you deal with patients who are diagnosed with the virus. Avoid sharing eating utensils, tableware and personal items with an infected person. Avoid close personal contact until all the blisters and lesions have healed. Build up your resistance to infection by eating healthy, taking vitamin supplements and making smart lifestyle choices. Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking which can impair your immune system. Avoid stress and anxiety by staying fit and happy all the time. All these play a great role in the prevention of HSV-1.


  1. Kath davey

    If you don’t have any rash, but have a sharp pain in your eye, massive headache, shaking or fitting and or a strange overpowering smell that only you can smell, get to a doctor and ask about viral encephalitus linked to herpes simplex virus. It can be life threatening or cause severe disability by causing infection of the brain…………… I had never heard of this and was close to death and family were warned of the possiiblity that I could be left in a vegetative state if I survived. Thankfully I survived though am left with short term memory difficulties ( another story ! )

  2. jasmine

    So I was told by a doctor that it was herpes but it appeared on my cheek for the first time. I’m not one t o share my things and the time that I had first gotten it I was a virgin so it can’t be an Hiv and my doctor has also said that it isn’t . My mother get the regular cold sores all the time but nothing like what I have. Since the first time I’ve had this I get it every year at the most two time in the winter. I’ve had it on my ear lobe. So ..I had just gotten it four days ago and it appeared to be going away but now appeared again right above the last one that isn’t fully healed. This one is very painful it makes the whole right side of my face hurt and its hard to sleep with. Like I said its on the outside of my cheek.. be free to aid me in what the he’ll is going on

  3. Meme

    I have herpes simplex 1 well that’s what my test results say and I am freaking out! Am I going to die? Can I still have sex? Is having this a bad thing? I don’t know what to do I just want to cry

  4. Kristen Wilson

    I was basically born with hsv1. My mom had it as well as her mom and so on. Its not that bad. I used to get alot of cold sores when I was little but im in my twenties now and im about to get married. Yes you can still have sex. If you have blisters on your privates, its usually not hsv1. Hsv1 is usually not an std. So yes you can still have sex. My fiance and I have been together for a few years and he has never gotten a cold sore. Keep in mind that these people that you kiss will probably get the virus but never exhibit any symptoms. But 96% of americans have the virus and never even know it. (Based on a government website!) So dont worry too much. Everything will be okay!!

  5. Truth hurts

    You won’t die but let your partner know you have it. How
    Would you feel if someone was not honest with you and gave u a painful virus. Be friends and speak and talk about your immune system and if he or she wants you then they will protect themselves . Putting some diluted neem oil eating raw garlic and just have him or her do their holistic research. We are strong and can heal from any diesease

  6. Udaysinh Sodha

    Dear Sir,

    I have just come to know from Blood Test of my life partner that she has HSV Anty Body (Type 1) (IgG To HSV (Type I) – HH 1.33.

    I just want to know how she become HSV positive and whether it is curable or not.

    your guidance will be highly appreciated.

    Thanking you

  7. Jamison

    Don’t panic! It can be controlled to where it is very livable. I have had HSV-1 since I was 19 years old and believe I have mastered treatment.

    These things will help immensely – but I am not a doctor.

    For me, the single most important solution is Carmex. It comes in a small little jar with a yellow lid at most drug stores. I ALWAYS have it within easy reach, because when when an outbreak occurs, time is of the essence!! I cannot stress this enough. The virus creates a little ‘tickle’ at the outbreak site (which for me is always the same). The tickle is warning you to take IMMEDIATE action. Rub the Carmex (which you have with you) across the affected area and beyond. It will soothe the pain, and don’t allow the aloe to dry out…ever. Keep reapplying thruout the day and glop it on before bed. My theory is that you cannot allow the virus to breathe. If you follow this method, the outbreaks are smaller, and run their course in 7-10 days vs. nearly double that with delayed treatment. Also, the sores bloom, but never crack and bleed by keeping the Carmex on which also reduces the pain immensely. Perhaps most importantly, since the outbreak is minimized, the affected area doesn’t spread. Once Herpes expands (without treatment) each subsequent outbreak will cover that larger area. I have seen some poor souls with half their face affected.

    The ‘live right’ advice in the column above is very important. Outbreaks are 100% percent associated with allowing yourself to be run-down, as in drinking too much and not getting enough sleep. And stress definitely causes outbreaks, as does illness when your body is busy with other matters.

    Hope this helps. Carmex is THE single product I am never without. I have backups everywhere too, and it’s only like $1.00 a jar for the miracle-cure.

    Btw – it is highly infectious when it is blooming or visible. No kissing! And use good hygiene. Don’t drink from the fridge bottle and whatnot, or share a drink.

    This remedy is among the most valuable of my life. These sores are very painful (untreated) and kill your psyche because they are so ugly. The method above puts you in control, and minimizes the matter so as to be a very small issue.

  8. Jamison Hurst

    I left a detailed comment of my experience (over 30 years) with HSV-1 which apparently did not survive the Comment Police because it offers a remedy not in harmony with the article. (an ointment)

    Carmex lip balm soothes the pain (naturally), prevents the spread on the affected person, hastens healing, and in my lengthy experience is an unsurpassed way to control the affliction.

    The moderator that denied my comment should be removed… And I will tell you this, I will not waste my time adding informed comments in the future as a result, nor will I ever participate in medical followups of any kind going forward. I know what I am talking about, 30 years has taught me how to handle this painful, unsightly, and psychologically debilitating ailment.

    The moderator should be ashamed of themselves, medicine is an inexact science. I welcome a reply to this comment as well, which I am sure also will not be posted, although it most certainly should be.

  9. Kenneth Article Author

    Hi there Jamison,

    Your comment was nor deleted or declined, the comment queue has simply not been moderated in a while.

    Thank you for sharing you experience with HSV-1 and sorry for the delay!

  10. Pen

    I have herpes simplex and have been suffering from outbreaks of it since I was a student. I am now in my forties. I rarely have it develop on my lip it is usually on my forehead or chin. Your diagram is the first time I have discovered the connection with the glans. I carry acyclovir with me all the time but it doesn’t stop an outbreak, maybe it just addresses the severity of it. The triggers are definitely stress, lack of sleep and the increased intake of poor food choices and sugar (which I tend to hit at times of tiredness). My current outbreak is the worst it has been which are three patches about three centimetres in diameter over my eyebrows and another patch on my forehead. I dispence with make-up at this time and opt for no ointment, moisturiser or anything as these tend to spread the outbreak. Besides there is no hiding it and I am at the age where I can explain it to those who ask or those I know and care about. It is as it is! To me it’s a reminder to look after myself and realise that despite the fact I am rarely ill, my body is telling me to sleep, eat well, exersise and stop working so hard. I hope this is of help and would welcome some feedback as I have never encountered anyone who gets this on other parts of their face or to the same degree. Although I am sure I am not alone.

  11. Echo

    I guess I’m kind of a different case. I was diagnosed with herpes simplex 2 at 17 and with stupidly giving oral and kissing and such have contracted simplex 1. I have experienced one large blister on my lip which left a small scar but have had outbreaks on my chin. Not much in years but have recently met someone who has just contracted simplex 1 and am doing some research on the difference between the two so I can better inform him. For those of you who would like more information from people who actually deal with it there is a site called positivesingles.com. You have to pay to actually “date” but can blog for free with any questions and there are a lot of people on there that know their stuff and are more than willing to help!

  12. Mamo

    I have just been examined by a doctor because I had a sore in my genital area with the same symptoms that this article presented. I am waiting for the results, the doctor says to find out if it is type 1 or type 2. I am so scared I don’t want it to be type 2. I am so upset because I have only one partner that I have been intimate with for ten years. I’m just curious to know if it is possible to have type 1 hsv and get sores in the genital area rather than the oral area?

  13. kerry c

    hello I’m 64 and I have hsv1 and pass it to my wife and now she had a stroke in march and left her paralized

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