Herpes simplex, HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus), lip herpes, genital herpes, dermatology, viral encephalitis, hepes simplex encephalitis

Definition Herpes

Herpes simplex is an infectious disease with preferential infestation of the skin and mucous membrane. This infection is caused by herpes viruses. There are two types of herpes simplex viruses: type 1 infects the skin and mucous membrane mainly in the face, while type 2 is found in the genital area.

  • Herpes virus type 1 and
  • Herpes virus type 2


The herpes viruses are divided into three subgroups: An essential characteristic of human herpes viruses is that they dwell in different tissues of the body. When the immune system is weakened, the viruses are reactivated and the disease breaks out again.

  • Α(HSV 1 and 2 (HSV = Herpes simplex virus); VZV (Varicella zoster virus)
  • Β(Cytomegalovirus (CMV), HHV 6 and 7 (HHV = human herpes virus)
  • Γ(Epstein- Barr- Virus (EBV), HHV 8)

Causes of herpes

The herpes virus is caused by the herpes – simplex – viruses type 1 and 2, which are so-called DNA viruses. HSV 1 causes the infection in the face (herpes simplex), whereas HSV 2 causes the infection in the genital area (genital herpes). Once it has occurred, HSV 1 remains in the trigeminal ganglia.

Trigeminal ganglia are switching points of nerve fibers of the trigeminal nerve, which supplies the face with sensitivity, i.e. with feeling. It therefore conveys sensations such as touch. From the infection site, the viruses migrate along the sensitive nerves into the ganglia (cell bodies of the nerves) and remain there for the rest of their lives.

If there is a weakness in the immune system, for example, the viruses migrate in the opposite direction back to the skin mucosa. The herpes breaks out again. The infestation of the population (i.e. contact with the virus) with HSV 1 increases during childhood and reaches 80% in puberty.

This means that about 80% had contact with the herpes 1 virus. However, this does not mean that 80% suffer from cold sores. With the Herpes simplex virus 2, the infection in adulthood is about 10 to 30%.

The transmission is only possible through direct contact. The main transmission route of Herpes 1 is saliva. This infection occurs, for example, through kissing, drinking from the same glass, coughing or sneezing. HSV 2 is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse.