JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
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The natural history of recurrent herpes simplex labialis: implications for antiviral therapy.

We performed daily examination of 80 patients with recurrent herpes simplex labialis to define the course of the disease and to identify quantitative and objective measurements for use in monitoring the efficacy of antiviral chemotherapy. Pain, lesion size, mean virus titers from lesion swabs (10(5) plaque-forming units [PFU]) and frequency of virus-positive lesions (89 per cent) were maximal during the first 24 hours and decreased thereafter. Lesion punch-biopsy virus titers increased from a mean of less than 10(1) PFU in the prodromal and erythema stages to a mean of 10(4.7) in the vesicle stage. MEasurements potentially useful in monitoring antiviral efficacy include: time to loss of crust, time to complete healing, intensity and duration of lesion pain, area defined by lesion virus titer and duration of lesion virus excretion, and maximum lesion virus titer after the first visit. Early application of topical antiviral therapy should theoretically be able to alter the course of this disease.

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