Herpes is an infection caused by a herpes simplex virus. Oral herpes causes lesions on the lips, around the mouth (“fever or sore”) or facial areas. Genital herpes can affect the genitals, buttocks or anal area; and is considered a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Other herpes infections can affect the eyes, skin or other body parts. This virus can cause serious infections in newborns or people with weak immune systems.
Two types of Herpes Simplex:
- Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) frequently causes labial lesions. It can also cause genital herpes.
- The herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) is often the one that causes genital herpes, but it can also affect the mouth.
The Herpes Simplex Virus is spread from one person to another through the direct contact of the injury. Some people have no symptoms and may be asymptomatic carriers. When the virus touches the skin, it causes injury where it enters. It manifests as discomfort initially as “burning” and later between 24-48 hours blisters appear like a bunch of grapes, causing itching and pain, eventually forming a crust. Once the first infection which is the most virulent is overcome, the virus remains latent and outbreaks usually occur several times a year, especially in times of stress. Over time, outbreaks become less frequent.
It is important to detect triggers such as exposure to sun, fever, trauma, low defenses, menstruation.
The treatment of the first infection usually includes an oral anti-viral. Recurrences are usually controlled with topical treatments but may require oral treatment as well.