Herpes is a viral contagion caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)-1 and Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) -2 are the two types of virus that cause this infection. Dr Smriti Naswa Singh, Consultant Dermatologist & Cosmetic Dermatologist, Fortis Hospital, Mulund talks about the different types of Herplex Simplex virus and the risk factors associated with it.
HSV-1 is more common and results in sores near the mouth, whereas HSV-2 infection results in sores near the genital and rectal areas. HSV-1 is passed on through oral secretions and can be spread through sharing objects such as toothbrushes etc. HSV-2 is passed on during sexual contact with someone who already has HSV-2 infection.
HSV-2 is also characterised as a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) and is spread via direct contact with the infected person’s bodily wounds or fluids. Pregnant women, especially with HSV-2, should talk to their doctor, as it can be passed on to the baby during birth. It is vital to know that both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can spread even if there are no open wounds on the body.
Here are some symptoms one should watch out:
Herpes Simplex Virus 1: HSV-1 can appear on the outside of the mouth or lips, inside the mouth, or on the tongue. The areas affected include skin near the Eyes (Periorbital region), it can also affect Cornea and Conjunctiva, called as Herpetic Keratitis and conjunctivitis respectively. Symptoms may last for about 3 to 10 days, and re-occurrence of sores generally affects the same area; the symptoms are:
- Open, blistery or thick sores
- Pain while chewing and swallowing
- Itchiness of the sores
- Hoarseness in the throat
Herpes Simplex Virus 2: The symptoms of HSV-2 usually disappear in 10 to 21 days. Re-occurrence usually affects the same area but is less severe. The symptoms of genital herpes include:
- Internal and external wounds or sores that are small, fluid-filled, and often appear in clusters
- Itching feeling in the genital or anal area
- An ache in the legs, buttocks or genital area
- Pain when urinating
- Unexplained vaginal/ penile discharge
Risk Factors: Herpes is a common virus, its risk is heightened when exposed to certain activities such as Unprotected sex: HSV-2 is most often spread from one person to another through sex, including oral sex. HSV-1 can also be spread through sexual activity, although it is not as common.
Sharing things: HSV-1 virus can be transmitted by sharing things such as toothbrushes, and even towels that have come in contact with the virus. Using someone else's lipstick, lip gloss, or lip balm can also be problematic as these items are inherently moist, which allows the virus to easily stick on them.
Here are some tips on dealing with Herpes, help soothe the pain and alleviate distress.
- Talk to your doctor if you see blisters/ sores around your mouth or your genitals
- Avoid touching your sores
- Talk to your partner and always use condoms
- Place towel-wrapped ice packs on the affected areas
- Keep the area dry and clean
- Wear cotton undergarments and loose-fitting clothes washing hands thoroughly, especially after touching the affected area
- Refraining from sexual activity until the symptoms have gone
- Wash your hands thoroughly, especially after touching the affected area
- Refraining from sexual activity until symptoms have gone
Preventive measures: The viruses are there in the environment, and can be contracted like people contract the common cold. Hence keeping ones immunity levels up, helps; to keep ones immunity high one has to:
- Eat a well-balanced diet
- Exercise regularly
- Sleep on time and sleep well
- Be stress-free as much as possible.
There are many HSV virus vaccines under trials but none has been approved till date....