Herpes simplex is a viral disease which is caused by Herpes simplex viruses. It is a recurring disease marked by the eruption of blisters on the mouth, lips, or face. These blisters or vesicles contain clear fluid. Infection with the herpes virus is usually categorized based on the site of infection.
Herpes Simplex Types
There are two types of herpes simplex virus:
Herpes Simplex 1
HSV type-1 – It commonly infects the mouth and lips, causing sores which are known as fever blisters or cold sores.
Herpes Simplex 2
HSV type-2 – It is the usual cause of genital herpes, but can also infect the mouth depending on the circumstances. It causes formation of painful fluid-containing blisters on the genitals.
This article will give you in-depth information on the various types of disorders caused due to the different herpes simplex virus including oral herpes, the most common form of infection. Special emphasis is made on the sexually transmitted disease genital herpes and its treatment. There should be wide awareness about this virus as HSV is also responsible for various disorders such as herpetic whitlow, keratitis, Bell’s palsy, Mollaret’s meningitis, Neonatal herpes, and cerebral herpes infection encephalitis and herpes gladiatorum.
Herpes simplex virus causes infection of skin and mucous membrane and in some cases it infects other parts of the body. In patients with suppressed immune system, HSV can cause pneumonia and other severe infections. An outbreak of HSV can be very painful. The first signs of herpes simplex occur with 2-20 days after getting in contact with an infected person.
A person infected with herpes simplex virus shows various symptoms similar to the ones in other viral infections, including lack of energy, headache, fever and swollen lymph nodes in the neck. Usually, the first sign of infection is the formation of fluid-filled vesicles or blisters. Though, these blisters last only for a couple of weeks, the resulting pain may last longer. Primary infection generally causes gingivitis, which results in inflammation of the gums, blisters on the lining of the mouth. A white covering is noticed on the tongue.
When a herpes simplex virus enters a body, it remains latent for the life of that individual. No symptoms are seen during the latency period. At times, the infected person sheds virus affecting others, even if the visible symptoms are missing.
Individuals affected with herpes simplex virus can have recurrent infections. However, the recurrent infections are milder and softer usually except in cancer patients who experience severe recurrences.
About 50-80% of person with oral herpes experience a prodrome (symptoms of oncoming disease) in both the primary infection and recurrent infections. These symptoms include pain, burning, itching or tingling at the site where blisters will form. This prodrome stage may last anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days.
There is no known cure for HSV infection though some antiviral drugs are available which reduce the symptoms and the length of herpes outbreaks. There is also some evidence that some of these drugs may be helpful in preventing future outbreaks. Moreover, herpes simplex is not typically life-threatening for immunocompetent people.