What are the signs and symptoms of reactivation of orolabial herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection?

Updated: Feb 27, 2019
  • Author: J Michael Klatte, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Reactivation of herpes simplex virus from the trigeminal ganglion may follow oral trauma or dental procedures but is usually asymptomatic.

A mild prodrome of localized pain, tingling, burning, or itching is followed by eruption of vesicular lesions. The prodrome may occur 6-53 hours before the first vesicular lesions appear.

The most common site of recurrent orolabial lesions is the vermilion border. On occasion, vesicles may be noted on other areas of the face or in the nares, often at sites contaminated by infected saliva during the initial infection. The pattern of recurrent disease varies greatly from one person to another. However, specific triggers may be fairly predictable for individual patients and the lesions tend to recur at the same site as the original lesions.

HSV-1 orolabial infections recur at a rate of approximately 0.1 episode per month or 1.2 per year.

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