Allergies May Reactivate Herpes Viruses and Cause More Severe Symptoms

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allergies and herpes

A  study from The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology suggests that individuals with allergies may be prone to more severe and atypical herpes-related symptoms. (1)

According to Johns Hopkins, “Allergies are disorders of the immune system. Most allergic reactions are a result of an immune system that responds to a “false alarm.” When a harmless substance such as dust, mold, or pollen is encountered by a person who is allergic to that substance, the immune system may react dramatically by producing antibodies that “attack” the allergen (a substance that produces allergic reactions).” (2)

When the immune system does not function properly, it leaves the body susceptible to an array of diseases, such as a reactivation of a latent herpes virus.

Allergies cause a shift in the immune system that allows latent herpes viruses, including HSV-1 and HSV-2 (the herpes strains responsible for oral and genital herpes) to reactivate. After an initial herpes infection, the virus establishes itself and then behaves as if it is asleep. When it reactivates, it “wakes up” and is able to attack the body again.

When it attacks the body, depending on the strain, the herpes virus causes symptoms such as burning genital sores, cold sores, and fever blisters.

In the study, it was suggested that herpes symptoms in people with allergies can be more severe.


In more scientific terms, the study said that, “…atopic patients (people with a hereditary predisposition toward developing certain hypersensitivity reactions) might be predisposed to more severe and atypical herpes-related illness.” (1) This happens due to what is described as a TH2 shift in the immune system.

Reactivation of latent herpesviruses can directly alter host cytokine profiles through viral expression of cytokine-like proteins, such as IL-10 (EBV) or IL-6 (cytomegalovirus and HHV8), viral encoded and secreted siRNA and microRNAs, and modulation of expression of host transcription pathways, such as nuclear factor κB.” (1) Furthermore, “HSV1 and HSV2 infection and reactivation can present with more severe cutaneous symptoms termed eczema herpeticum in the atopic population.” (1)

Controlling allergies may reduce the chances that an allergy will behave as a trigger for herpes virus reactivation.


(1) Dreyfus DH “Herpesviruses and the microbiome.” J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Dec;132(6):1278-86.

(2) Johns Hopkins Medicine – Health Library – Allergies and the Immune System

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