Herpes is a medical term refers to a group of Infectious, contagious and recurrent diseases caused by viruses. There are many types of herpes viruses:
HHV-1, Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) – Causes oral herpes
HHV-2, Herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2) – responsible for genital herpes
HHV-3, Varicella zoster virus (VZV) – agent of chickenpox and shingles
HHV-4, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) – Agent of Infectious mononucleosis and the cytomegalovirus, usually affects newborns and immunodepressive people
HHV-5, Cytomegalovirus (CMV) – May cause Swollen lymph glands, Flu-like symptoms, Pneumonitis (inflammation of lung tissue), and more.
HHV-6, 7, Roseolovirus – Virus that causes roseola infantum, also known as sixth disease and exanthem subitum;
HHV-8, Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, also known as Herpes B virus – May cause Kaposi Sarcoma, a rare type of cancer that can cause skin lesions.
Among these viruses, the most common are the Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV 1), also called blisters, cold sores or oral Herpes; and Herpes Simplex Type 2 (HSV 2), commonly known as genital Herpes.
Herpes simplex viruses tend to occur on the oral (oral herpes) or genital area (genital herpes). At the initial phase of the infection, the viruses remain unnoticed. Then from time to time, they appear by breakouts.
Oral herpes simplex – Labial herpes, also called fever blisters or cold sores, is most often caused by Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV1). About 70% of adults in the US have been affected with this virus. At the initial stage of the infection, herpes labial is asymptomatic in about 90% of cases, and usually occurs in childhood. The sores are generally developed on the edge of the lip or mouth, causing pain, burning or itching. In some individuals, the blisters can appear on the lower face area: chin, around the nose, nostril, and cheeks. Those symptoms, most of times, disappear in 8 to 10 days.
Genital herpes, caused by herpes simplex virus 2, is a sexually transmitted disease that spread through secretions from the mouth or genitals. Due to Its frequency, genital herpes becomes a major health problem throughout the world. The disease affects people in all radial and social groups.
The outbreaks mostly appear in:
- Anus (men and women)
- Scrotum (men)
- Shaft and head of the penis (men)
- Cervix (women)
- Inner thighs (men and women)
- Labia (women)
- Vagina (women)
- Mouth (men and women).
Herpes Causes and Transmission
Herpes simplex virus tends to be transmitted by direct contact with the lesions. The primary infection (the first contact with the virus) leads to inflammatory reactions and redness followed by small fluid-filled lesion or blister formation in or beneath your skin. The virus then remains in the nerve ganglia, which leads to recurrent outbreaks in the infected area (s). Various factors may trigger the recurrent of the outbreaks:
- Lack of sleep
- Exposure to sunlight
- Infectious diseases
Those outbreaks are very contagious. The transmission of the virus can be done through kiss, contact with lesions or saliva, mother-to-child transmission, or during sexual intercourse. To reduce contamination to others, in case there are breakouts, you should be avoided by infants and immunocompromised individuals (cancer patients, HIV infected people, etc.), because they may develop very severe forms of herpes.
In case of pregnancy, genital herpes of the mother is dangerous to the child at birth, contamination might occur during expulsion. Transmission of the herpes simplex virus to a newborn is extremely serious. The infection can cause generalized rash, encephalitis, jaundice and intra-vascular coagulation. To prevent mother-to-child transmission, your doctor can perfom a caesarean when the date of birth is near.
Herpes transmission can also occur by auto-contamination such as sticking your fingers in your nose, eye and on your cheek.
Herpes Signs and Symptoms
The initial herpes outbreak is characterized by intense painful episodes of sores or rash and tends to last longer than later outbreaks. A burning sensation followed by the outbreak of blisters, leaving sometimes, cutaneous ulceration. You may also experience vaginal discharge and painful urination. In contact with urine, those ulcers cause excruciating pain. In addition, the liquid seeped by those ulcers is very contagious.
Those ulcers are gateway for other sexually transmitted diseases; it is crucial to refrain from sex during herpes outbreaks. In addition, you many have swollen and tender lymph nodes in your groin. All those symptoms may be accompanied by fever, headache, stomachache and abdominal pain.
When the oral herpes simplex infection affects your eye, it can cause blurred vision.
Diagnosis of Herpes
The diagnosis of genital and labial herpes is based on the clinical examination and, if necessary, on the isolation of the virus of vesicular lesions by viral culture (of blister fluid from lesions).
Other test may include:
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) – this medical procedure allows your physician to detecting small amounts of DNA and presence of herpes virus.
Serology – medical study of your blood serum to identify presence of antibodies against hepatitis A virus infection and herpes simplex virus.
Immunofluorescence – this medical technique allows your heath care provider to detecting viral antigen from monoclonal antibodies. This specific and rapid method is also used to make distinction between HSV1 and HSV2.
Tzanck test – also called herpes skin test, is a method of scraping up cold sores, fever blister, or genital sores with a dye to detect the presence of herpes simplex virus or varicella-zoster virus.
Treatment consists primarily in the application of local antiseptic to dry sores or blisters and stop development of breakouts. Depending on the natural defense of your body (immune system), local antiseptic is enough to alleviate minimal damage and prevent infections.
To reduce the spread of the viruses to other parts of the skin, you should wash the infected areas thoroughly with antiseptic soap and clean water. You should also dry the skin surrounding the ulcer (s) by patting it with a white, soft clean towel. Occasional application of ice or heat in the infected area can help you reduce pain and inflammation. If there are recurrent genital or anorectal ulcers, your doctor can prescribe you antiviral drugs such acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex).
- Eat a piece of aloe vera early in the morning before breast fast and before going to bed, and then apply Tea tree oil or Virgin coconut oil on the infected area
- 4 times a day, drink Prunella Vulgaris tea
- 3 times a day, Apply Fresh homemade Fragipani juice on the affected area
- At least 3 times a day drink fresh juice made with carrot, radish, water crest and beet root (you need a juicer)
- Drink a lot of fresh and natural carrot, lemon, apple and grappes juice (you need a juicer)
It is not always easy to avoid certain types of herpe; however, there are steps you can take:
- Use condoms during sexual intercourse
- Avoid oral sex during herpes outbreak
- As long as you can, do not kiss anyone who has “herpes-like “sores
- Avoid using objects that have been in direct contact with saliva or mouth of an infected person
- If your partner has herpes, avoid oral or genitals contact during genital or labial outbreaks
- To prevent auto-contamination (if you already have herpes), avoid sticking your finger in your eyes, nose or mouth
- If you have herpes outbreak, avoid touching children and immunodepressive individuals
- If you have herpes outbreak, avoid contact with cancer patients that are undergoing cancer treatment (see the table below for more tips).
1 – Hricova M, Mistrikova J (2007). “Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 serum antibodies in general human population”. Acta virologica 51 (4): 283-7. PMID 18197737.
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3 – HOAGLAND, RJ. THE INCUBATION PERIOD OF INFECTIOUS MONONUCLEOSIS. Am J Public Health Nations Health. 1964 Oct;54:1699–1705. [PubMed]
4 – Whitley RJ (1996). Herpesviruses. in: Baron’s Medical Microbiology (Baron S et al, eds.), 4th ed., Univ of Texas Medical Branch. ISBN 0-9631172-1-1
5 -MASON, WR, Jr; ADAMS, EK. Infectious mononucleosis; an analysis of 100 cases with particular attention to diagnosis, liver function tests and treatment of selected cases with prednisone. Am J Med Sci. 1958 Oct;236(4):447–passim. [PubMed]