The herpes simplex virus is an infection that causes herpes, which can appear in various parts of the body. It most commonly occurs in the mouth or on the genitals. There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is known as oral herpes, and causes fever blisters and cold sores around the mouth and face. HSV-2 causes genital herpes.
HSV is a contagious virus that can be passed from one person to another through direct contact. Generally, children contract HSV-1 from contact with an infected adult, and they then carry this virus with them for the lifetime.
HSV-1 infection can also occur from general interactions such as kissing or sharing items of personal use such as lipsticks. The virus can also spread during sexual activity.
HSV-2 is spread through sexual contact with a person who is infected with the virus. HSV-2 infections are spread through contact with a herpes sore, it is seen that most people get HSV-1 from an infected person who does not have sores or is asymptomatic.
Myanmar is among the South East Asian countries with a high incidence of Herpes Simplex, and more men are found to be infected compared to women.
The most important thing to know about Herpes Simplex is that while someone may not have any visible symptoms or sores, they may still have the virus, and may spread it to others. Some common symptoms associated with Herpes Simplex include:
- blistering sores on the genitals or in the mouth
- pain during urination
The patient may even experience symptoms of flu, including swollen lymph nodes, lack of appetite, headaches, fever and tiredness. In some cases, it can spread to the eyes as well and cause a condition known as herpes keratitis. This causes symptoms such as gritty feeling in the eye, eye discharge, and pain.
Currently, there is no cure for Herpes Simplex Virus. The treatment focuses on getting rid of the sores, and preventing further outbreaks.
In many cases, the sores disappear without treatment. However, the doctor may prescribe medications such as famciclovir, acyclovir or valacyclovir.
These medications can help patients reduce the risk of spreading the infection to others, and also help lower the frequency and intensity of outbreaks. The medications come in both oral and as creams that can be applied on the affected areas. In cases of severe infection, these medications are administered by injection.
People who have Herpes Simplex Virus carry the virus for the rest of their lives. It may not manifest any symptoms, but it continues to lay dormant in the infected person’s nerve cells. However, some people do experience regular outbreaks. Some others experience only one outbreak after they are infected, and after that the virus becomes dormant. A dormant HSV can be triggered by menstrual periods, stress, sun exposure or fever/illness.
Outbreaks tend to become less intense over time as the body starts producing antibodies. There are usually no complications if the infected person is healthy.
There is no cure for Herpes Simplex Infection, but certain precautionary measures can help avoid becoming infected, or to prevent spreading the virus to others. When you experience an HSV-1 outbreak, you should try and avoid direct physical contact with others. It is important not to share items of personal use that can pass the virus around. These include lip balm, makeup, clothing or utensils. Kissing or any other sexual activity should also be avoided. If you end up touching your sores with your hands, you should wash them thoroughly and apply medication with cotton swabs.
People with HSV-2 infection should avoid any sexual activity during the outbreak. Pregnant women should take medication to prevent the spread of virus to the baby.