Statistics show that approximately one in every five people, that is about 45 million people, above the age of 12 have herpes. And this is in the United States of America alone. Herpes Simplex or simply Herpes is a viral infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. Two types of Herpes Simplex Viruses exist; Type – 1 (HSV1) and type – 2 (HSV2). Type one causes what is called Oral Herpes, which manifests in the form of cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth; it is the most common of this infection. Type 2 causes Genital Herpes, more widely known as just Herpes, which is the second most common form of this infection. Apart from these two the herpes simplex virus also causes herpes whitlow, ocular herpes, Mollaret’s meningitis, herpes gladiatorum, cerebral herpes infection encephalitis, neonatal herpes and Bell’s Palsy.
Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1): Type 1 is usually manifested in the form of blisters on the face, mouth or lips. Many people develop it in childhood years. Along with causing sores inside the mouth, it may also cause infections in the eye (especially in the cornea and conjunctiva). In rare and severe cases it can lead to an infection of the brain lining also called meningoencephalitis. Contact with infected saliva is the primary way in which the HSV-1 spreads. Approximately 30 to 90% people develop antibodies to the virus by adulthood. People of the lower socio-economic background have a higher likelihood of developing the infection in childhood.
Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2): type 2 is the more famous genital herpes, known simply as herpes. It’s most common symptoms are sores or ulcers in the genital area. However, HSV-2 is asymptomatic; that is it shows no symptoms. In the USA up to 30% adults have antibodies against the virus. Oral-genital contact might lead to a cross-infection of type 1 and type2, which means one get oral herpes in the genital area and genital herpes on the outside the mouth and in some cases on the gums.
Herpetic Whitlow a finger infection is another form of HSV infection. Health care providers are most susceptible to this form of the infection because they are exposed to saliva during procedures. An unborn child can be infected, leading to abnormalities. Most often, an infected mother may transmit the infection to the newborn at the time of delivery, if the delivery is vaginal.
Infection by the Herpes Simplex Virus resulting in Oral or Genital Herpes has the following symptoms:
- Ulcers or blisters: incase of oral herpes on the mouth lips and gums and in the case of genital herpes, in the genital area.
- Enlargement of the lymph nodes in the neck or the groin region.
- Fever blisters
- Fever, particularly at the time of the first infection
- Genital lesions that might be preceded by a tingling or burning sensation
- Mouth sores
Depending upon the type of herpes infection various treatments can be followed. Although there isn’t a HSV 2 CURE the most highly recommended treatment is through a course of prescription medicines. Apart from antiviral medication, topical medication is also prescribed by doctors. While the infection is cured, the virus remains in the system, and a relapse usually triggered by excess sunlight, fever, stress, acute illness and medications. Therefore, the first thing to do is to complete the course of the medication and then ensure that you are not exposed to triggers.