Herpetism, an abnormal constitutional condition predisposing to herpes (Webster's New International Dictionary, ed 2, Springfield, Mass, G & C Merriam Co, 1923, p 1010; French: herpétisme), as manifest by recurrent lesions, is an increasingly common and distressing problem. It results from an infection with either the orofacial (type 1) or the genital (type 2) herpes simplex virus. After primary infection of skin or mucosa the virus makes its way to the nuclei of the cells of the regional nerve ganglia. Incorporation of the viral DNA into the host DNA1 provides an impregnable intracellular site for a lifelong infection beyond the reach of antibody, cell-mediated immune responses, or chemotherapy. As a result of cell mechanisms not yet understood but often triggered by fever, sunburn, emotions, or unknown factors, the latent infection becomes manifest as a recurrent endogenous infection in the cutaneous, ocular, or genital epithelium. Exogenous reinfection is also possible,
Blank H. Herpetism. Arch Dermatol. 1979;115(12):1440–1441. doi:10.1001/archderm.1979.04010120038016
Coronavirus Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.