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A Recurrent Painful Rash

Francesca Cheung, MD CCFP, is a family physician with a special interest in dermatology. She received the Diploma in Practical Dermatology from the Department of Dermatology at Cardiff University in Wales, UK. She is practising at the Lynde Centre for Dermatology in Markham, Ontario and works closely with Dr. Charles Lynde, MD FRCPC, an experienced dermatologist. In addition to providing direct patient care, she acts as a sub-investigator in multiple clinical studies involving psoriasis, onychomycosis, and acne.

Abstract
Herpes simplex viruses (HSVs) are DNA viruses that present as vesicles in clusters on an erythematous base. Infection occurs when close contact between an individual without antibodies against the virus and a person shedding the virus takes place. Most HSV infections are self-limited. Lesions tend to reappear at or near the same location of the initial site of infection. Systemic symptoms such as fever, malaise and acute toxicity may appear, especially in primary infection. A viral culture from the skin vesicles can identify up to 80 to 90% of untreated infection early in the course. Antiviral treatments aim at shortening the disease course and preventing viral dissemination and transmission. Treatments are most effective when they are administered at the first sign of symptom onset.