Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex is a common but contagious viral infection. In fact, every person who has had a cold sore or fever blister has contracted herpes simplex, meaning more than half the population has the virus. It is believed that most affected individuals contract the infection during childhood, but people of any age can contract and spread herpes.

There are two common types of herpes simplex: Oral (HSV-1) and Genital (HSV-2). No matter what type of herpes you have, it is important to know that there is no cure for the virus. Rather, herpes simplex treatments work symptomatically to help for Herpes sufferers. With the help of a dermatologist, you can find a solution to shorten and suppress outbreaks when they occur.

Herpes Simplex Causes

The herpes virus is very contagious, spreading by skin-to-skin contact or from wet surfaces where the virus is present. This includes while contact sports, from drinking glasses and toothbrushes, as well as kissing and sexual contact. The HSV-1 infection is more commonly found on the face, around the mouth, and on the nose. HSV-2 has historically been the cause of genital herpes, but HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes.

The herpes virus is spread initially to the skin but eventually moves to reside in the local nerves. Usually, when this virus is activated or reactivated, it produces a lesion. This lesion, which will take the form of a fever blister or cold sore, sheds the virus. That said, the viral shedding may happen without a lesion present.

The herpes virus can remain dormant (inactive) in the nerve for long periods of time. It may also be triggered by illness, stress, sun, surgery, menstruation, or acidic foods. Outbreaks are recurrent, but the frequency of outbreaks will usually decrease with time.

Symptoms of Herpes Simplex

The first outbreak is usually the worst, but it can also occur without herpes simplex symptoms and go unnoticed. If the first outbreak goes unnoticed, a later outbreak may be confused as the first. This can cause stress and confusion, especially in HSV-2 outbreaks.

Herpes symptoms can include burning, tingling, swelling, pain, redness, and blisters. Lesions more commonly occur on or around the lips and nose, chin, cheeks, genitals, buttocks, lower back, and posterior thighs although lesions have the potential to occur anywhere on the face or body. Outbreaks may last from several days to several weeks.

Herpes Treatment Options

Although there is no cure for herpes, medication is available to decrease pain and the duration and frequency of outbreaks. Over-the-counter medications are available to soothe the pain and burning of mild cold sores. More painful outbreaks may require topical or oral prescription medication. In most cases, herpes treatment is effective at managing symptoms. Recurrent, frequent, and severe infections of HSV-1 and HSV-2 may need ongoing suppression therapy with oral antiviral medication to prevent outbreaks. If this describes your experience with herpes, consider scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist.

See a Doctor for Severe Cases of Herpes

Our doctors can provide these types of advanced treatments and therapies, which can make a big difference in how your herpes manifests. Don’t wait to find some relief from your current course of herpes symptoms. Contact us to schedule an appointment or virtual visit today.

*Results may vary per patient. Services vary by location.