What is Herpes?


The first time I have consulted a doctor with my lips all covered with blisters and vesicles the only thing I had on my mind was “what is herpes and how to get rid of herpes?” I immediately asked to the doctor if there was a definitive cure for herpes and this is what he answered to me: “Unfortunately dear, there is not a definitive cure for the herpes virus, because it infect neurons and hide in the ganglion system. This means that no drug can effectively remove it. You have to leave with it.”

Not everyone will tell you that a lot of viruses, even the dangerous ones, can be put in a stage where they are completely dormant and be completely harmless to the infected person. The first thing to know to make sure herpes will not recur is to understand what is herpes, how it develops, which are the causes, the symptoms and what types of herpes exists.

The herpes virus presents with blisters or vesicles on the skin. It is considered a highly contagious infection and in some cases a very painful one. The virus can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact. In the majority of the cases the virus is transmitted through sexual activities, kisses or just touching someone else. However, it is possible to get infected through toothbrushes, towels, glasses, napkins, lipsticks, cutlery or any object that may have been in contact with an infected person.

Before I can talk you about the cure for the herpes it is very important to understand what kind of herpes exists. There are diverse type of herpes but the most common are:

Herpes labialis – this type is caused by the herpes simplex virus and causes the formation of vesicles on the lips and in some cases on the nose, nares, mouth or around the lips. This small fluid-filled sacs causes itchiness, pain and a strong inflammation of the area infected.

Genital herpes – genital herpes is caused from an infection of the herpes simplex virus and can affect area such as genitals, glutei, anus and in some cases (after oral sex for example) mouth and lips. The symptoms are the same as for herpes labialis: small fluid-filled sacs which cause itchiness and pain on the area affected.

Herpes zoster – commonly know as shingles, this kind of herpes virus is the same behind chickenpox infections. The herpes zoster causes the formation of a high quantity of blisters on the back or chest, sometimes on the neck and hips. This skin rash often comes with fever, headaches and general pain.

The herpes virus tends to manifest during period of intense stress or when our immune system is weaker. When you get infected it is very important not to touch the infected areas, until the blisters start forming a crust and a scab will appear. Only after that the risk of transmission will be much lower.

Mouth Herpes

Mouth herpes is a skin rash caused by the herpes simplex virus. In the case of an infection, the symptoms are redness of the skin and the formation of small fluid-filled blisters. Usually this outbreak is caused by the herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1), but it also possible in some specific cases the herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) may cause this infection.

Difference between oral aphthae and herpes:

This type of herpes can form on, around and inside the mouth. For this reason it is very easy to mistake a herpes outbreak with oral aphthae. To help you make a distinction, you can find here below some differences:

Oral aphthae are small wounds or inflammations caused by bites, cuts, food intolerances, allergic reactions and other external causes. Usually they manifest on the tongue, gums or cheeks.

Mouth herpes is a herpes outbreak. Contrary to oral aphthae, this type of herpes hits the gums (the part close to the teeth), palate, the inside part of the lips and the tongue in some rare cases. Another substantial difference is that mouth herpes causes at first itchiness and pain, when oral aphthae causes only pain.

Mouth herpes symptoms:

Mouth herpes manifests at first with the reddening of the skin and a tingling sensation that lasts for 7-10 days. As the infection evolves, the itchiness will become stronger and a number of fluid-filled blisters will manifest on the skin.

The color of the fluid inside the blister is going to pass from white to yellow, remaining of this color until the blister explodes.

A very important thing to keep in mind is that this skin outbreak is very contagious until the blisters have been replaced with small crusts. Only when all the area is covered with scabs it will be much harder to infect other people.

Mouth herpes transmission and how to avoid it:

Mouth herpes can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact. The first thing to avoid in case you get infected with mouth herpes is to kiss other people or engage in sexual activities that involve the mouth. It is very important to know that when infected with mouth herpes it could be very easy to infect the partner’s private parts, causing genital herpes.

As mentioned, it is possible also to transmit the virus indirectly and this case it is more common than most people think. Simply using an object previously handled by an infected person can cause the infection. Towels, cutlery or food are the easiest way to get infected.

What can be done to avoid to get infected? There are some precautions that can be taken by people who suffer from mouth herpes and people that leave close to them.

Suggestion to who suffer from mouth herpes

  • Never touch other body parts after having touch the infected area. If this happen wash carefully.
  • Avoid scratching the infected area.
  • Wash the infected area with water and soap frequently during the day.
  • Avoid touching the eyes with dirty hands, it may cause the formation of herpes ophthalmicus, which is very complicated to cure.
  • Never use saliva to clean contact lenses.

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Herpes on Lip

Herpes on lip, also known as cold sore or fever blister, is a skin infection caused by the herpes simplex virus, specifically the herpes simplex virus 1. This virus infects lips but also the surrounding area.

It is very important to know that lip herpes is not to be mistaken with oral aphthae. The latter manifests inside the mouth or inside the lips and it is not caused by the herpes virus. Its causes are generally, food intolerance, bites, allergic reactions, cuts and other external causes.

Herpes on lip manifest as small fluid-filled blisters. The outbreak from its first manifestation usually lasts a week, but in some cases it can last 10 days. Very often before the lip herpes outbreak you may feel a tingling and/or burning sensation.

herpes on lip

Herpes on lip causes:

The main trigger for herpes on lip or cold sores is stress or when the immune system is weakened. This is because the herpes virus lies dormant inside the body until some external or internal event trigger is manifestation.

Other causes may be for example period of intense work, indigestion, very high or low temperature, menstruation or seasonal changes could be behind the manifestation of lip herpes.

Prevention and transmission of herpes on lips

Identify this type of herpes in time since its first manifestation can help to intervene immediately and fasten the recovery. Unfortunately, over-the-counter medicine cannot provide a complete solution to herpes, but they can only relieve the pain. In most of the cases once you have been infected with herpes on lip the virus will manifest systematically. This is because the virus lies in the ganglion system and modern medicine has not yet found a way to eradicate it from there.

The risk to infect other people with direct contact is very high. Just kissing another person could be enough for the virus to be transmitted. Until the fluid-filled blister have been replaced with crust the transmission will be even easier. It is important to know that the virus can be transmitted also through indirect contact. For example just using a towel, a glass or cutlery used by an infected person can cause the infection.

Suggestions and solution for lip herpes:

To cure herpes on lip there are few solutions. Obviously it is possible to use common drugs that have active principle that can fight herpes outbreak on lips and surrounding areas.

Medicine that contains zinc and/or heparin can help to shorten the time of the outbreak if used on time. In the case of strong itchiness is usually recommended the use of antihistamine or specific protective cream.

Regular physical activity can help to lower the level of stress, relax muscles and reduce tensions. All of this can prevent the recurrence of herpes outbreaks. Also it is very important to keep a balanced diet, eating healthy food and avoiding the consumption of coffee and alcohol.

Nose Herpes

nose herpesNose Herpes is a viral infection that affects the skin and mucous membrane inside the nose. The cause of this infection is the herpes simplex virus type 1, which is the cause also for herpes labialis and sometimes for genital herpes. Normally, herpes manifests on the lips or around them, but in some cases it can spread on the nose or inside it. This type of herpes is not only very unpleasant to look at but is also very annoying, particularly when the outbreak is inside the nose.

Nose herpes symptoms:

As for herpes labialis, the first symptom of nose herpes is a tingling sensation, which can be even painful sometimes. This sensation becomes very irritating as the outbreak moves inside the nose. Usually after 24 hours it is possible to notice the first blisters. In only few days the nose can be covered with small vesicles, very painful and unpleasant to look. When the virus manifest inside the nose, the formation of crusts is going to be problematic and you will have to wait few weeks until the infection would be completely gone.

Recent studies have found that herpes is increasingly spreading and that the percentage of nose herpes is around the 10% of the total.

There are two different possible outbreak of nasal herpes:

A primary outbreak manifests after two to twenty days after the transmission. Usually, the blisters last around seven to ten days. After this period, there will not be any sign or scar, but the virus will still remain dormant inside the body.

A recurrent outbreak happen 40% of the times in case of a herpes infection on the nose. If you are part of this number, you will have to deal with different outbreaks many times throughout all the year (from one time a year to one time a month). The number of outbreaks will decrease with age.

Cure and treatments for nasal herpes:

Usually doctors do not recommend local treatments for nose herpes (especially when the outbreak is inside the nose). This is due to the difficulties correlated on applying creams in this area. What doctors recommend are antivirals to be taken orally. Obviously, the use of antibiotics is useless because the herpes simplex is a virus and not a bacterium. In the case of a treatment, the medicine has to be taken regularly to be effective. If the cure is interrupted before the end of the treatment, the all cure could be ineffective.

During the treatment it is better not to use nose earrings of any kind. Also, it is highly suggested to take vitamin and mineral supplements to stronger the body. Vitamin C is very recommended in this cases for its capacity to fight infections.

Herpes Simplex

The herpes simplex virus or HSV is the reason behind the formation of herpes on your body.

The most common types are the herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and the herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2). The HSV-1 is the cause of oral herpes, herpes labialis, cold sores and all the herpes that manifest on or near the mouth. In some cases this type of herpes can spread on the nose or on the cheeks. The herpes simplex 1 can also causes genital herpes when an infected mouth comes in contact with genitals. Normally, it is the herpes simplex 2 that causes the formation of herpes on private parts.

As just mentioned, HSV-2 is the reason behind the formation of genital herpes. This virus manifests on genitals (penis and vagina) but also on the anus on glutes.

The herpes simplex usually manifests on the body when the immune system is weakened. When this happen it is more likely that the virus, which stays dormant inside the body, will show on your skin. Here below you can find the situation that may trigger the virus to manifests:

  • very high or low temperature
  • fever
  • menstruation
  • stress
  • seasonal changes
  • when sick

How do you get herpes?

The herpes simplex virus is transmitted through direct or indirect contact with an infected person. Usually, the virus enters inside the body through cuts, abrasions or scratches on the skin. The moment when the virus is the most contagious is when there are fluid-filled blisters on the skin. The herpes simplex 1 is transmitted through saliva and through contact with the infected area. The easiest way to get this type of herpes is kissing an infected person.

The herpes simplex 2 is transmitted through sexual activities with or without penetration. Since sometimes the virus does not show any symptoms, it is very important to be careful when interacting with a new partner. This is because even if the virus is dormant inside there is still a high risk to transmit the virus through saliva, sperm or any other body fluid.

Another very common way to transmit the herpes virus is in the case of pregnancy. At the moment of birth, the mother can infected the child, and this is more likely if the infection is occurring.

Recent studies have found that in the 62% of the American population has contracted the herpes simplex 1 during adolescence. Regarding herpes simplex 2, women are more exposed to the virus. It has been found that about 1 in 4 women have HSV-2, compared to 1 in 8 men. This is because female genital system is structured to keep inside the sperm and facilitate the conception. However, this structure facilitate also a higher exposition to sexual transmitted diseases and this case of the herpes simplex.

Herpes simplex symptoms:

Usually the first herpes outbreak is the strongest because the body has not experienced before the manifestation of the virus. During time outbreaks will become less strong. There are few symptoms that can make you aware of an upcoming outbreak. In the case of herpes simplex 1 you may experience a tingling sensation or itchiness on the mouth or nose, fever or sore throat. In the case of herpes simplex 2 usually the first symptom is a tingling sensation in the genital area or on glutes and thighs. In women there may be also vaginal discharge. In some cases it is possible to experience fever, headache, muscles aches, swollen lymph glands in the groin and painful urination.

Herpes Labialis

Herpes labialis or cold sores is an infection that causes the formation of small blisters on the lips and on the area around them. These blisters can easily spread inside the mouth and the nose. The infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and in some cases the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). I know you may think that only the herpes simplex 1, which is behind oral herpes, could be the cause for the herpes labialis, but also the herpes simplex 2 in some specific cases can cause the formation of blisters on the lips or around them.

herpes labialis

Herpes labialis symptoms:

Before the virus manifests with blisters, the first symptom is sore, itchiness and the redness of the skin. After few days, you can notice the formation of small fluid-filled blisters (the fluid will become more yellow as the time passes). When the blisters explodes, they will leave on the skin small crusts, which will remain on the skin for about seven to ten days. The manifestation of herpes labialis can cause in some cases fever or headache.

What causes Herpes Labialis?

The herpes virus after having infected the body, it lies dormant inside nerve cells until some events trigger its manifestation. Normally the virus manifests in period of high level of stress or fatigue. This is because during these times our immune system is weakened. So in cases such as fever, menstruation, seasonal changes, very high or low temperature there is a strong possibility that in case of infection the virus will manifest on the skin.

Herpes Labialis transmission:

The most common way to get infected with herpes labialis is through saliva. An infected person can transmit the infection just talking very close to another one (the easiest way is of course with kisses). When the virus starts manifesting on the skin with blisters and vesicles is highly recommended not to touch the infected area and be very careful when interacting with other people. This is because during this phase it is very easy to infect others. My suggestion is not to get in direct contact or talk to close to other people until the blisters have been replaced with crusts.

There are also other ways to transmit the virus. For example touching objects previously handled by an infected person such as a towel or cutlery could be enough to get infected.