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HSV-1 – Symptoms & causes

The herpes simplex is a very common viral infection. If you have ever had fever blister or a cold sore, then you have got the herpes simplex virus. The most cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 – HSV-1. Herpes simplex labialis, mouth herpes and oral herpes are some types of herpes which are caused by the HSV-1. Many people believe that the HSV-1 is the same thing as the oral herpes and it is always a reason to appear cold sores on your mouth or face region, but this is not always true.

Also, the HSV-1 can be acquired in the genital region which is creating a genital HSV-1. Also, the HSV-2 is known as genital herpes, but also it can be acquired in the facial region. The HSV-1 and HSV-2 are nearly identical and they share 50% of their DNA and they produce almost indistinguishable symptoms. This is a very important why you should be tested for both strains of this disease. It is known that all strains of the herpes simplex virus are extremely contagious and they can be spread through sores, saliva and skin to skin contact where the outbreaks happen.

This virus sheds and it release traces of the virus periodically when without visible symptoms. This means, that it is able to be contracted even when the sores are not present. This is most contagious when sores are present. The symptoms of the initial outbreak of the HSV-1 are a lot more severe than the symptoms in the recurring outbreaks [1].

When the HSV-1 is firstly contracted, then the typical symptoms include muscle aches, headaches, nausea, fever and a general feeling of unwell, accompanied by cold sores or fluid – filled lesions. The initial outbreak can happen days, weeks or even years after the first being exposed to the virus. You should be careful if you have sores on your face because you can easily pass this virus to someone else that does not have it.

HSV-1 Symptoms


You should know that the HSV-1 is a latent and lifelong virus. This means that the HSV-1 lies dormant in the system and it appears sporadically throughout the course of its host’s lifetime. It is noticed that the recurring outbreaks of HSV-1 are much less severe than the initial outbreak and it can include only the fluid – filled blisters or cold sores. When the blisters form, then they will eventually break and the fluid oozes out. It is known that the yellow scab crusts over the broken blisters.

When the scab falls off, then there is a new skin underneath. These lesions tend to appear in clusters either on the genital regions or on the face and they can last anywhere from seven days to three weeks. The recurring symptoms of HSV-1 appear months or even years after the initial outbreak and they can continue to happen randomly throughout the infected person’s life.

The symptoms  can surface every month, every year and sometimes they may never appear at all, especially when someone has a genital HSV-1. There is no exact way to identify exactly when this will emerge. As the time goes, the outbreaks tend to decrease in the frequency and severity because the body builds up more antibodies to fight off the virus. There is no cure for both strands of the herpes simplex virus but both of them can be managed with prescribed antivirals.

HSV-1 Causes

This spreads through close contact from one person to another. You can get this virus from touching a herpes sore. But, there are many cases when a person gets This from a person who does not have sores and doctors call this situation “asymptomatic viral shedding”. The person who has this can pass this virus to someone else by:

  • Having a sex [2]
  • Mothers pass the HSV-1 to their baby during childbirth. It is noticed that if the baby is born during the mother’s first episode of genital herpes, then the baby can have serious problems. [3]
  • Kissing [2]
  • Sharing objects, such as a razor, lip balm or silverware
  • Touching the person’s skin, such as pinching a child’s cheek

Some things can trigger or wake up the HSV-1, such as

  • Surgery
  • Menstrual periods
  • Sun exposure [4]
  • Fever
  • Illness
  • stress [5]


[1] World Health Organization. Herpes simplex virus. 2020. Retrieved from

[2] Johns Hopkins Medicine. Herpes: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Retrieved from

[3] James SH, Sheffield JS, Kimberlin DW. Mother-to-child transmission of herpes simplex virus. Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society. 2014;3(Suppl1):S19–S23.

[4] Mazzarello V, Ferrari M, Decandia S, Sotgiu MA. Sunlight and herpes virus. 2018. Retrieved from

[5] University of Virginia Health System. Cold sores: Discovery reveals how stress, illness and even sunburn trigger flareups. Science Daily. 2021. Retrieved from

Ramesh Kumar
Ramesh Kumar
Dr. Ramesh kumar, BAMS is naturopathy doctor who is well versed with health benefits of all fruits, vegetables and medicinal plants


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