Everything you need to know about herpes causes, symptoms and treatment
The herpes is a relatively common disease that most have at some point heard, either as responsible for cold sores and wounds around the mouth, either as a sexually transmitted disease.
Precisely because it is relatively common but has different manifestations, we are not always completely clear what exactly is herpes, what are its symptoms or how it is treated. In addition, there are different diseases that we call herpes, which only increases the general confusion about it.
What is herpes?
The herpes, or herpes simplex, is a disease caused by infection with a virus characterized in that cause inflammatory skin lesions, usually around the mouth but may also appear in other areas, which are shaped like small surrounded red blisters a fence also red.
There are two herpes simplex viruses: type I, which usually causes lesions in the mouth, face or upper body area, and type II, which usually affects the lower part of the body, especially the genital area.
It is not a serious illness in most cases, but it has no cure. Once a person has become infected, the only possibility is to treat the injuries, which can be annoying and painful. The virus however will remain dormant in the body until it reappears in the next active episode.
The difference with shingles
There is another disease often confused with herpes simplex due to the similarity of its symptoms: skin lesions in the form of vivid red blisters that can be painful although in this case they are distributed throughout the body.
It is called herpes zoster and is caused by the same virus responsible for chickenpox . When a person contracts chickenpox, once cured, the virus remains dormant in the body. Sometimes, not always, it reactivates years later, causing a new disease, herpes zoster.
There is also no treatment beyond treating the symptoms to make them less bothersome or painful . This disease affects the nervous system and can sometimes cause serious sequelae such as chronic pain or paralysis.
Herpes simplex type I is also called cold sore because it is spread mainly by mouth-to-mouth contact (either directly or through objects), although there may also be a buccogenital infection and symptoms may occur in that area. It is usually taken for the first time in childhood or adolescence and they are always suffering, intermittently, their fevers or pupae.
It is estimated that, in 2012, around 3,700 million people worldwide suffered from it, which meant 67% of the population. In many cases the contagion occurs because the person carrying the virus has not yet had symptoms and therefore is unaware that he has it.
Symptoms of herpes type I
Many times this infection has no symptoms and that is why many people do not know that it is a carrier of the virus.
The most common symptom is injuries in the form of wounds and blisters around the mouth . Normally before these lesions appear, called sores or pupae, those affected feel a tingling, heat or stinging in the area.
After the first infection, the virus stays in the body and can reappear, especially during periods of stress, lowering of defenses or changes in temperature.
When infection of type I virus occurs in the genital area , the dynamics are usually the same: often there are no symptoms, so the infection goes unnoticed and that facilitates its transmission. When you have them, they are also small lesions and blisters on the skin surrounding the genitals . Once cured, the virus remains, although it is less common to reactivate.
Although it is not usually a serious illness, in some cases there may be some complications that can have serious consequences.
For example, in patients immunosuppressed due to HIV infection or other diseases, the herpes virus can lead to more frequent and more serious outbreaks.
The case of neonatal herpes may also be more serious : when a newborn is infected by being exposed to the virus during childbirth. Although they are rare, these cases can cause permanent neurological disabilities and even death.
Treatment and prevention of cold sores
The treatment is reduced to the treatment of its symptoms, that is, to cure the fever and prevent its expansion. For this , antiviral drugs, such as acyclovir, are often useful in the form of ointments.
Preventing type I herpes is not easy because often the infected person does not know they are. The contagion is maximized at the time of the outbreaks, so in those times it is convenient to avoid all direct or indirect oral contact (sharing glass or other objects) as well as the buccogenital contact.
A person who has contracted this virus can not get infected again, but can get the type II herpes virus , so it is still necessary to use protection. The correct use of condoms reduces the risk of contracting herpes type II, although it does not eliminate it altogether.
The type II herpes genital herpes is also called because it is the main cause of the infection appears in the genital area. It shares many similarities with cold sores, since many times it does not present symptoms which facilitates its contagion because the carrier sometimes does not know that it has it; it has no cure beyond the symptoms and once contracted it remains in the body of the latent patient until the next episode.
It is estimated that more than 400 million people worldwide are carriers of genital herpes. There are more female victims than men, since the infection occurs more often from men to women than vice versa.
Symptoms of genital herpes
In many cases, genital herpes does not cause symptoms and therefore the carrier never learns that it is. When there is, the symptoms are small blisters and pustules around the genital area. It can also cause fever, pain, swelling and discomfort in general.
Once the symptoms are cured, the virus remains in the body and can re-manifest itself. Normally the following episodes are less severe than the first and their frequency decreases with time.
Again, a weak immune system can cause complications in these cases. For starters, the episodes can be more severe, and can also lead to widespread infections, hepatitis, pneumonitis and others.
It can also cause serious damage in the case of neonatal herpes , when a newborn is contracted during delivery. It can cause permanent neurological problems or even death.
Often, the main problem is rather psychological , due to the taboo and social rejection of sexually transmitted diseases. In general, this does not last long and those affected come to live with the virus without major problem.
Treatment and prevention of herpes type II
As in the previous case, antiviral treatments such as acyclovir , usually in the form of cream, are used to cure the symptoms of genital herpes. There is no cure for the virus itself, which always remains in the body of the carrier and can be reactivated later, although less frequently and less virulently.
The spread of genital herpes usually occurs during sexual intercourse. Always using a condom is a way to reduce the risk of infection , although it does not eliminate it altogether because the affected areas sometimes extend beyond those covered by the condom.