Herpes Simplex

Apr 8, 2012 , Translated by Kristina Knazko

herpes-simplex.jpg - kopie
herpes-simplex.jpg - kopie
Herpes simplex is a virus that can cause illnesses such as cold sores and genital herpes. Herpes simplex survives in the nervous system and can travel to the lips or genitals under the right conditions, manifesting typical symptoms. Herpes simplex can be dangerous for individuals with a damaged or lowered immune response.

Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex is as common virus that causes infections of the skin and mucous membranes, which are among the most common infections in the world.  It affects individuals of all age groups, regardless of race or gender.  Herpes simplex exists in 2 forms, HSV 1 and HSV 2.  Herpes simplex type 1 mainly causes cold sores on the lips and the second type causes infection in the genital and anal areas, which we call genital warts.  Herpes simplex most often affects the skin, and less often the mucous membrane or the eye.   Very rarely does it affect brain tissue or the spinal cord.  It is not very dangerous in adults, however in newborns or young children it can cause a number of unpleasant and often life-threatening complications.

Symptoms of Herpes Simplex

As mentioned above, herpes simplex virus exists in two types, which cause similar illnesses but in different locations on the body.

Herpes Simplex Virus, Type 1

HSV type 1 is what causes herpes labialis, also known as cold sores.  Initial contact with the virus occurs in childhood, manifesting itself as minor inflammation of the mucous glands, or without any symptoms at all.  The virus survives in the body, specifically in the nerve nodules along the spinal cord or in the brain, and given the right conditions, it travels along the nerve to the adjacent skin or mucous membrane.

  • Manifestations of herpes simplex virus include small red sores on the lips that hurt when pressure is applied.  The patient may also feel a sensation of pressure or tingling.  Small shiny blisters which may merge together appear on the surface of this bump.  Their content gradually clouds up and turns into pus, and small cracks appear on the surface through which the pus leaks out, forming a scab.  In a few days the scab falls off and leaves a small reddish spot.  The development of a cold sore takes about 10 to 14 days and more than one sore may appear at the same time.  In more severe cases, the sores merge and the patient develops a fever and swollen lymph nodes.  A typical sign of cold sores is its frequent reoccurrence, and in some patients they reappear continuously.
  • Risk factors that cause the herpes simplex virus to shift from the nerve tissue include certain infectious diseases, sun exposure, injury, mental distress or physical activity and in some women, certain fazes in the menstrual cycle.
  • Transmission of herpes simplex virus type 1 is mainly caused by direct contact with the ill.  Transmission can also occur through saliva, tears, contaminated objects or fingers.
  • Complications of cold sores include pneumonia, eye infection or hepatitis or liver inflammation.  Affected eyes can lead to corneal ulcers.  The most serious cases lead to meningitis or inflammation of the brain.


Herpes Simplex Virus, Type 2

HSV type 2 is the cause of genital warts, which are similar to cold sores but appearing on the genitals or in the genital area.  Genital warts typically appear in adults and is classified as a sexually transmitted disease. 

  • Symptoms of genital wart include redness in the area of infection, itching and the development of a number of blisters, containing infectious fluid.  This fluid is a source infection and if these blisters burst, it can infect another person through broken skin or mucous membranes.  In the case of anal sex, blisters appear in the anal opening.  Sometimes enlarged lymph nodes may develop, usually in the groin.  General symptoms include headache, weakness and muscle pain.
  • Transmission of herpes simplex type 2 usually occurs during sexual intercourse. It is also possible to transmit the disease orally or through other sexual practices.  During pregnancy, the herpes simplex virus can be transmitted from the mother to the fetus through the placenta.
  • Risk factors are those that stimulate reactivation of the virus herpes simplex type 2, which is already present in the body but has not yet manifested itself.  These include hormonal changes during menstruation, excess mental and physical stress, or skin irritation in the genital area.  Likewise, they can lead to the development of genital warts, flu-like illnesses, high fevers or poor eating habits.
  • Complications of genital warts include vaginal swelling, painful urination, and discharge.  The most severe cases may lead to meningitis or inflammation of the brain.

Treatment of Herpes Simplex

The treatment of warts, herpes simplex respectively, is mainly pharmacological.  Treatment is provided by special anti-inflammatory creams or various products with antiviral effect, generally called antivirals.  These should be applied as soon as possible, even before the blistering stage.   Antivirals, medication to kills viruses, taken in tablet form, are beneficial in patients with a more complicated course of the virus, but if not taken long-term, the tablets do not prevent reoccurrence of the disease.  Patients suffering from herpes simplex virus should not come into contact with newborns, patients with eczema and individuals with lowered immune system as these patients are put at a higher risk when infected with the herpes simplex virus, than healthy individuals.  Treatment of a complicated case of warts, either due to location or duration, is treated by a dermatologist.  In these cases antivirals are administered orally or intravenously.  In addition to treatment of the herpes simplex virus, it is recommended to take vitamin B, C and E supplements and zinc as well.

Prognosis of Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex is a very common disease and some patients are faced with it continuously.  Most do not bring any complications other than unsightly lip sores discomfort with lip movement.  These manifestations can be hidden and diminished in a number of ways, so the patient does not need to restrict his or her daily routine.  Genital warts is a very stubborn disease and its treatment can be long-term.


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