Herpes simplex history and symptoms

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Cafer Zorkun, M.D., Ph.D. [2]


Primary orofacial herpes / Herpes simplex type 1 presents itself as multiple, round, superficial oral ulcers [1] Adults with non-typical presentation are more difficult to diagnose. However, prodromal symptoms that occur before the appearance of herpetic lesions helps to differentiate HSV from other conditions with similar symptoms like allergic stomatitis. Genital herpes can be more difficult to diagnose than oral herpes since most genital herpes/HSV-2-infected persons have no classical signs and symptoms.[1] They present with blisters and ulcers in the genital area that are similar to orofacial herpes. Herpes infection can recur even after successful initial treatment. The first episode is usually longer (two to four weeks), more painful, and more severe than subsequent/recurrent episodes.

History and Symptoms

Oral Herpes / Herpes Simplex 1 Symptoms

1) Pain, burning or itching at the site of infection occurs even before the development of the ulcer.

2) Oral Sores/Ulcers

  • Incubation period: 2 days to 2 weeks (average 4 days)
  • Duration of disease: 2 to 3 weeks
  • Site- Lips, gums, throat, front of tongue, inside of the cheeks and roof of the mouth.
  • Size- approximately 1 to 3 mm
  • Presentation- The infection starts with development of blisters that later develops into ulcers. They are usually painful and can cause difficulty in eating and drinking for the patient.

3) Fever

4) Fatigue

5) Muscle aches

6) Swollen painful neck glands

7) Painful throat with shallow ulcers on the tonsils

Genital Herpes / Herpes Simplex 2 Symptoms

1) Genital blisters or ulcers

  • Incubation - Symptoms develop within a week of skin-to-skin contact with an infected person
  • Duration of illness - 2 to 4 weeks
  • Site - On genitals (around the penis or vagina), anus
  • Size - Approximately 1 to 3 mm
  • Presentation - The blisters can occur in groups or "crops." These can be painless or painful.

2) Fever

3) Muscle aches

4) Headaches

5) Vaginal discharge

6) Painful urination


  1. 1.0 1.1 Fatahzadeh M, Schwartz RA (2007). "Human herpes simplex virus infections: epidemiology, pathogenesis, symptomatology, diagnosis, and management". J. Am. Acad. Dermatol. 57 (5): 737–63, quiz 764–6. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2007.06.027. PMID 17939933.

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