Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes Simplex is a contagious viral infection commonly seen as cold sores on the lip but this virus can also affect the genital area. This article shares the medical symptoms of cold sores (also known as fever blisters) and other types of herpes simplex viruses. We will also look at ways you can get rid of cold sores on your lip or genital area.

There are two strains of herpes simplex viruses: Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 is the type of infection typically found on the lip, mouth or face. This is the most common type and can develop during childhood. HSV-2 is usually transmitted sexually and may results in genital ulcers or sores.

The two types of herpes simplex viruses can cross-infect due to oral-genital contact. In other words, a person can get oral herpes on their genitals, or genital herpes on their mouth.

Another form of HSV infection is called herpetic whitlow. This is a finger infection and is usually seen in health care providers who are exposed to saliva during a procedure. Young children may also be susceptible.

Herpes Simplex Symptoms And Causes

Symptoms may not be present but if they are may include:

Painful sores, blisters or ulcers found on the mouth, lips and gums, or genitals. There may be a red ring surrounding the blister
Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck or groin
Fever is possible especially during the initial episode

HSV-1 can result in sores located inside the mouth, or infections of the eye. When the eyes are affected there can be pain and redness and a feeling that something is in the eye. It can lead to infections of the lining of the brain resulting in a condition called meningoencophalitis.

HSV-2 can result in genital lesions and there may be a burning or tingling sensation before the lesion appears.

HSV-1 is usually transmitted via contact with infected saliva. 30 – 90 percent of all adults have antibodies to HSV-1. HSV-2 is usually sexually transmitted. It is possible to transmit the virus even when there are no visible symptoms or sores. Two-thirds of people with genital HSV infections will have a recurrence of the sores and one-third have three or more recurrences per year. Cold sores may erupt when the body's immune system is compromised by factors such as sickness, stress, excess sun exposure, menstrual period, or certain drugs.

HSV can be passed to a fetus during the birth process is the mother is infected with the virus and the child passes through the vaginal canal.

Herpes Simplex Diagnosis And Treatment

A medical doctor can often diagnose cold sores or genital herpes by looking at the sores. However, the diagnosis may need to be confirmed with tests such as blood tests to detect antibodies of HSV, direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) test of cells taken from the sore, or viral culture of the sore.

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of symptoms. Some will have a mild case and may require no treatment. Typically cold sores will run their course within a week and then disappear. Recurrence is likely since the virus remains in the body for life.

For cold sores, cooling the area with ice packs or eating popsicles may help pain. Sun screen on the lips and around the mouth may prevent onset due to sun exposure. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen may help relieve some pain and inflammation (aspirin is NOT to be used for viral infections). Over-the-counter medications may lessen the discomfort and prescription antiviral medication or topical ointment may be used. See a physician if the eye is involved or frequent, severe or prolonged outbreaks of oral or genital herpes occur.

Herpes Simplex is a contagious viral infection commonly seen as cold sores on the lip but this virus can also affect the genital area. This article shares the medical symptoms of cold sores (also known as fever blisters) and other types of herpes simplex viruses. We will also look at ways you can get rid of cold sores on your lip or genital area.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *