Herpes is the generic name for herpetic infections. It is a skin eruption that most often appears around the labia. This change is caused by HSV1 and HSV2 viruses from the Herpes simplex virus group. This infection is quite common and occurs most often in childhood (HSV1) or during sexual contact with an infected partner (HSV2).
It is people who are the only source of infection with the herpes virus. Every person with this unpleasant ailment at least once is its carrier for the rest of his life. Some people experience this condition completely asymptomatically. Herpes usually appears on the lips.
Herpes infection can take the following forms:
- Herpetic encephalitis,
- Herpetic meningitis,
- Herpetic eczema,
- Herpetic eye disease,
- Herpetic vesicular dermatitis,
- Herpetic sore throat and tonsils,
- Herpetic vesicular dermatitis,
- Other forms of herpes infection.
As for the herpes virus, we never know the day or time when it will attack us. According to some estimates, its carriers are even 90% of the population. It has not yet been investigated why only a small fraction of these 90% suffer from cold sores, but it is known that the first episode of painful eruptions around the lip or nose can occur at any time. If we are glad that we have not had herpes all our lives, unfortunately, there is no certainty that it will stay that way.
When the virus is not engaged in disfiguring our mouths, it lives in a latent or latent form at the nerve endings, such as the sensory ganglia around the spine.
Another interesting fact is that herpes is a very close relative of chickenpox and shingles. It is really hard to imagine a family whose visit would be more unpleasant to us. Worse, if you are unlucky, you can experience all of these illnesses in your life, with herpes so many times over.
Because it is different from herpes, it may never manifest itself. Although the virus is dormant in our ganglia, it may reveal itself once and remain silent forever, and it may recur even every two weeks. And there is still no cure.
Main Herpes Symptoms
As the HSV 1 virus can reveal itself under the influence of changes in the hormonal balance, some women, as an additional attraction, in addition to their period, have a painful and unsightly rash on their lips every month.
This is the meaning of herpes life: every now and then, when properly stimulated, it crawls from the depths of the nerves to the surface of the skin. Most often it is the lip border, where it first feels stinging and aching, then explodes with tiny, itchy vesicles swollen with liquid. And painful, and then turns into a scab that disappears after a few days.
How well it goes without leaving a scar. Bubbles formed on the lip are filled with serious content and then with purulent discharge, which, as previously mentioned, turns into a scab. Before the painful blisters appear, you may experience tingling, burning, itching, and slight pain. The symptoms of the skin and mucous membranes are very similar to each other. It is not uncommon in the course of herpes in the infected person to enlarge the lymph nodes.
Genital herpes is slightly less common (the infection may be primary or recurrent). Primary infection is usually severe. The most common infection occurs after sexual contact with an asymptomatic host. After the incubation period of the infection (3-7 days), women and men develop general symptoms like headaches, high temperature, and muscle pain.
In men, blister-like skin eruptions are located on the penis or (rarely) on the inside of the thighs or the scrotum. In women, follicles develop on the labia, the vagina, the perineum, and even the cervix. Occasionally, there are other symptoms, such as mucus from the urethra or vagina, and enlargement of the inguinal lymph nodes. In a primary infection, urination disorders may occur.
Symptoms of herpes infection appear from 1 to even 26 days after contact with the source of the infection. However, this period is usually around seven days.
Herpes is most often contagious in the active phase, i.e., when eruptions appear around the lip in the form of bubbles filled with fluid. This is where viruses are found. When the morning dries up, the scab loses its greatest firepower. It is worth remembering that herpes symptoms may reappear as a result of external factors, in the form of:
- Exposure to strong solar radiation.
- Complications after herpes
An episode of herpes lasts four to ten days. It seems that worse things happen than a few pimples on the lip for a week, and of course, they are, but despite the low health harm (a bit worse with the society because the virus spreads very easily), the HSV 1 virus cannot be taken lightly.
First of all, be careful not to transport it from the lip to the eye because it can cause keratitis or even ulceration, which may result in blindness. So, while a woman does not have to throw away lipsticks, which she used during the herpes eruption because she is infected with the virus anyway, the infected person’s eye is “clean,” and it should be ensured that it remains. So it’s best to wash your hands thoroughly after each contact of your fingers with the herpes eruption.
Very rarely, but it does happen that on its way to the lips, a virus that starts out from the ganglia will wander towards the head. May cause meningitis or encephalitis; very difficult to heal. Even when it is cured, it has unpleasant neurological consequences. The symptoms may resemble a hatching flu, so you have to remember that God keeps the guarded.
Herpes in children
Children and people with reduced immunity and a weakened immune system are particularly vulnerable to more complicated forms of herpes. In children, and it is important to know, in whom infection with the virus usually occurs before the age of 5, herpes can manifest as stomatitis.
Newborns whose mothers have not suffered from herpes and therefore have not passed on antibodies are also in danger. Such babies need to be especially protected against those suffering from herpes. In turn, in people with low immunity, the virus can attack internal organs and manifest itself in the form of extensive ulcers on the body.
When encephalitis is on the horizon, the pimples above the lip appear slightly brighter than before. Maybe this is a method to tame hated herpes?
However effective it is to tame it, you need to know what to do to heal it. Often, patients do not come to the doctor with herpes, asking themselves what to do with herpes and relying on over-the-counter preparations available in pharmacies.
Diagnosis of herpes
The diagnosis of herpes is based on the patient’s overall clinical picture (present symptoms) or after the gynecological and urological collapse (genital herpes). However, it happens that a specialist has diagnostic doubts, so in such situations, he uses the following tests:
- Detection of HSV DNA virus using the PCR method – this method is very sensitive; a negative test result does NOT exclude the possibility of infection;
- Isolation of HSV virus in cell culture – this test is mainly used in the diagnosis of genital herpes; here likewise, a negative result does not exclude infection;
- Serological test – antibodies to HSV appear in human blood a few weeks after infection. Detection of anti-HSV2 antibodies is most likely to indicate herpes on penis while detecting the only HSV1 will be more difficult to assess as cold sores are very common.
One should also remember about differential diagnosis. Oropharyngeal herpes is differentiated from:
- Coxsackie infection,
- Erythema multiforme (Stevens-Johnson disease)
- Aphthous inflammation,
- Enteroviral inflammation.
In contrast, genital herpes should be differentiated from:
- Venereal ulcer.
Treatment and prevention
What about cold sores? A lot can be done with the help of various preparations available at the pharmacy. But in the case of frequently recurring herpes eruptions, it is worth considering not so much emergency treatment, i.e., focused on drying and eliminating vesicles and scabs as quickly as possible, but a longer therapy with a prescribed antiviral drug.
If it goes well, the frequency of episodes will decrease after such intensive treatment, and maybe even for a long time, we will be able to forget about herpes. In the case of herpes, time is of the essence: the faster we react, i.e., catch the earliest symptoms, the greater the chance that they will be milder.
Besides, it is good to learn to recognize the factors that trigger herpes from the forest, from the sensory ganglia of the nervous system, such as:
- Low temperature,
It is also worth taking care of the immune system; Its strengthening will certainly thwart herpes in her evil plans. It may be a consolation to know that scientists are working on a vaccine against this thug stalking our face.