Medical Definition of Herpes
Herpes: A family of viruses. Herpes also refers to infection with one of the human herpesviruses, especially herpes simplex types 1 and 2.
Herpes simplex type 1, also known as human herpesvirus 1 (HHV-1), causes cold sores and fever blisters in the mouth and around it.
Herpes simplex type 2, also known as human herpesvirus 1 (HHV-1), causes genital herpes, a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Genital herpes is characterized by sores in the genital area.
Both herpes simplex types 1 and 2 are capable of causing systemic disease including encephalitis (infection of the brain) in someone who is immunodeficient.
The treatment of most infections with herpes simplex infections is by topical or oral anti-viral medication, although intravenous therapy is required to treat infections of the brain (encephalitis).
Last Editorial Review: 1/25/2017
Back to MedTerms online medical dictionary A-Z List
Need help identifying pills and medications?