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Hands are not the first part of the body people associate with the herpes simplex virus, but HSV can infect fingers. Herptic whitlow develops on the fleshy part of the thumbs or fingers and, very rarely, the toes. Also called digital herpes simplex, finger herpes, or hand herpes, the infection causes a painful rash with fluid-filled blisters and sores. Herpes whitlow spreads from person to person easily through direct contact with the rash and fluid.

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1. Herpes Simplex Virus

Two types of the herpes simplex virus infect humans. HSV-1 infections typically enter the body around the mouth, nose, lips, and other areas of the face. HSV-2 infections usually occur around the genitals and buttocks, but both types can infect any part of the body. The herpes simplex virus can cause primary or recurrent infectious outbreaks, although some people with HSV never experience symptoms. Approximately 20% of people with HSV develop symptomatic infections within 2 to 20 days of initial exposure. Unfortunately, both types of HSV hibernate in nerve cells and remain in the body for life.

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