Herpes simplex virus infects an individual’s mucous membrane and skin, and creeps through the pathway of the nerves to reach the nerve clusters. The virus stays dormant inside the body and this could be activated anytime. There are two different types of herpes virus – HSV I and HSV II. These can attack an individual together or separately and cause either genital or oral herpes. Herpes simplex virus can be transmitted through direct physical contact or by contracting fluids, like genital discharge or saliva, from the infected individual.
Earlier, it was reported that HSV II is responsible for genital herpes. However, further studies have concluded that both types of HSV can cause genital herpes and oral herpes symptoms. It was also found that the virus infects approximately 20% adult and adolescent population in the US. About 10% to 25% of these people do not show any symptoms of the virus, but regardless of that, they can still transmit the virus to other individuals.
The virus, as mentioned, can be transmitted by contracting body fluids from the infected individual. These fluids include genital fluids like vaginal discharge or semen, saliva or fluid coming from the sores that breakout due to the infection. These viruses will then enter the body through the eyes, mouth or damaged skin that exposes the mucous membrane. The virus will attack the cells under the skin and will start multiplying from there. This is considered as the initial stage of the condition and infected individuals will not notice any symptoms of infection.
When the virus successfully destroys the cell that is hosting it while replicating, the initial symptoms will occur, such as tingling sensation, inflammation and the appearance of cold sores or fever blisters on the skin. When the virus is done replicating, it will start spreading into the skin cells and end up looking like clustered blisters. This is when the virus becomes inactive and stops multiplying. However, it will unpredictably activate later on and will then enter the shedding stage where the virus transmits from one individual to another.
Symptoms of Herpes Simplex
This type of herpes condition occurs within the genital areas and its surrounding areas, such as the buttocks and thighs. The condition may or may not present any symptom depending on the affected individual. However, in case symptoms are present, it would start showing up within one or two weeks after being infected by the virus through sexual intercourse. The infection due to HSV is recurrent by nature and it is necessary for the affected individual to be prepared for future outbreaks. The symptoms of the condition are more severe during its primary outbreak and gradually become milder with the succeeding outbreaks.
- Tingling sensation around the genitalia, buttocks and thighs
- Redness and inflammation of the affected area
- Dull pain and swelling
- Presence of red bumps that will eventually develop into blisters
- Gradual formations of fluid-filled blisters that may rupture and cause open sores
- Itching of the lesions
- Headache and fever
- Swollen glands on the neck or groin
- Difficulty urinating
- Vaginal discharge
Oral herpes or non-genital herpes normally affect the lips and mouth of the infected individual. In rare cases, it could also affect the face and this is referred to as facial herpes. Oral herpes outbreak can also affect children and this condition can be extremely painful. Herpes in mouth or lip can be bothersome, and this may last for 3 to 14 days. Just like genital herpes, oral herpes may also recur at any given time and the first outbreak is the most troublesome. The most common oral herpes symptoms include the following:
- Formation of sores on the lips
- Increased saliva production
- Foul breath
- Open sores after the blisters are ruptured
- Yellowish discharge coming from the lesions
- Muscle pain
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
Although the virus is not life threatening, cases of death are reported due to the condition as well. Therefore, it is necessary to start treating the condition as soon as symptoms become visible. However, you should know that there is no cure available for herpes simplex virus and there are no fever blister or cold sore medicine, but there are antiviral medications that can help treat its symptoms. Topical and oral treatments can be taken regularly to keep the infection under control. It is also important to follow precautionary measures to prevent the virus from being transmitted to other individuals.
During a sexual intercourse, it is necessary to use protection and avoid contacting individuals with weakened immune system, such as kids, diabetics and elderly. Upon noticing the first sign of the condition, for example the presence of herpes on lip it is necessary to talk to your physician immediately to determine what could have triggered the activation of the virus. Your physician can also provide you information regarding the possible treatment options for the condition as well as the preventive steps that you should take to avoid its recurrence.