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J Fam Pract. 1985 Apr;20(4):359-66.

Stress as a precipitating factor in subjects with recurrent herpes labialis.


The model of recurrent herpes labialis was selected to evaluate the role played by stress in increasing susceptibility to illness. Initially, 35 paid volunteers with recurrent herpes were enrolled in the project. Compared with 35 age- and sex-matched controls, this group demonstrated a familial predisposition for recurrent herpes labialis. Eighteen subjects without confounding variables known to precipitate recurrent herpes infections completed a pretested "stress" questionnaire during a dormant and again during an active stage of infection. In the week prior to the appearance of a recurrence, this group experienced increased daily hassles, increased stressful life events, and higher state anxiety. These findings are discussed in the broader context of stress-associated disease with some speculations concerning a possible biologic mechanism, which involves modulations of T-lymphocyte function.

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