Can genital herpes spread to other parts of the body?

The virus that causes genital herpes, herpes simplex type 2, can sometimes infect other areas of the body. Although uncommon, the herpes simplex virus can enter the skin through a cut in the fingers and cause pain and swelling. A genital  infection might move up into your colon, causing difficulties in your gastrointestinal tract. The virus can also infect the brain, which can lead to seizures, disorientation, and even death. People with the skin condition eczema should avoid anyone with a herpes outbreak because it can lead to a serious skin infection.

Genital herpes does not spread to other parts of the body most of the time. However, sometimes it does. Other body parts that may be infected include the lining of the brain and spinal cord, the nerves, lymph nodes and skin far from the genital tract. This may show up as headache, fever, muscle aches, problems with urination, irritated skin or painful ulcers. Spread of the infection to other parts of the body is more likely to happen soon after someone becomes infected with the virus, rather than with recurrent outbreaks.

Continue Learning about Genital Herpes

What questions should I ask my doctor about genital herpes?
Review the following questions about herpes so you're prepared to discuss this important health issu...
More Answers
What is genital herpes?
Dr. Jeanne Morrison, PhDDr. Jeanne Morrison, PhD
Both genital herpes and oral herpes are the result of a virus, the herpes simplex virus. Herpes simp...
More Answers
When should I call my doctor if I have genital herpes?
Univ. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family MedicineUniv. of Nev. School of Medicine, Family Medicine
You should call your doctor right away if you think you have genital herpes. Your doctor may be able...
More Answers
Could I have genital herpes even if I have no symptoms?
Genital herpes is not always easy to diagnose because signs and symptoms vary greatly. Some studies ...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.