Serious complications of genital herpes are uncommon, but they are possible. Dr. Patel, can you tell us about some of these complications?
Sure, Dr. Mayzik. Some people develop herpes lesions on other parts of the body besides the genitals. Areas where lesions may appear include:
- The buttocks
- The groin
- The thighs
- One or more fingers, and
- The eyes
Although it's rare, HSV-1 and HSV-2 can lead to inflammation of the meninges, which is the membrane that covers the brain and spinal cord. This is called aseptic meningitis.
For people with suppressed or weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV, genital herpes can cause severe, painful, and persistent genital ulcers.
Neonatal herpes, which is herpes passed to a baby during pregnancy or childbirth, is one of the most serious complications of genital herpes. Most women who contract genital herpes before becoming pregnant have a low risk of passing the virus to their baby. These women have developed the necessary antibodies to fight the virus and have passed these antibodies to the baby during pregnancy. A woman who contracts herpes during the third trimester of pregnancy, however, hasn't had time to build up antibodies to the virus, so the risk of transmitting herpes to her baby is increased. Neonatal herpes is potentially fatal if it isn't treated immediately.