A survey on the prevalence of orofacial herpes in France: The INSTANT Study

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Orofacial herpes is a common benign disease suspected to significantly impact the quality of life (QOL) of affected subjects. The objective of this population-based study was to evaluate the annual prevalence of orofacial herpes in France, its epidemiology, and its impact on QOL. Face-to-face home interviews were conducted among a random sample of 10,263 adults. A screening questionnaire identified subjects with a history of orofacial herpes (or cold sore) during the past 12 months; then, subjects with herpes completed another questionnaire to further describe their disorder and its management, and the SF-36 questionnaire to assess their QOL. The annual prevalence of orofacial herpes was 14.8% (95% confidence interval 14.03; 15.47); it was significantly higher in women than in men (P < .001) and decreased with age (P < .001). Among subjects with herpes, only 23% were aware of their disease. Tiredness and emotional stress were the main triggering events. There was no detectable difference between subjects with herpes and controls on SF-36 scores; however, when compared with subjects with 1 to 5 episodes per year, subjects with 6 or more episodes per year had significantly lower QOL scores.

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