What are complications of herpes simplex virus (HSV) infection?

Updated: Feb 27, 2019
  • Author: J Michael Klatte, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
  • Print

Complications of cutaneous herpes simplex virus infections in children and adolescents include eczema herpeticum in children with underlying atopic skin disease, herpetic whitlow of the fingers, and herpes gladiatorum in wrestlers (see History, Physical). Secondary bacterial infections can also occur.

Herpes simplex virus infection of the visceral organs results from viremia with dissemination to many organs. Although this disease is most common in the immunocompromised population, it can also occur in immunologically healthy individuals. Most cases reflect disseminated skin disease, though multiple organs may be involved and hepatitis may be prominent. Disseminated infection can also result in esophagitis, pneumonitis, encephalitis, and adrenal necrosis. Leukopenia, thrombocytopenia, and disseminated intravascular coagulation are not uncommon.

Newborns with herpes simplex virus skin disease may have recurrences for months to years, particularly with HSV-2 disease, even if antiviral therapy was appropriately administered. The role of suppressive oral antiviral therapy with acyclovir in prevention of these cutaneous herpes simplex virus recurrences is an area of active investigation. [86]

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!