Herpes Simplex Virus 1 & Oral Herpes

Herpes Simplex Virus, type-1 or HSV-1 for short is a type of virus from the Herpes family of viruses called as ‘Herpesviridae’. This virus causes Oral Herpes in people in most cases (around 80%) and rarely it can cause Genital Herpes as well. HSV-1 virus is highly contagious and can easily spread from close physical contact. Children generally contract this virus early on their life due to close contact with an infected adult. They can carry the virus with them for the rest of their lives without even knowing about it since its symptoms are not always fully apparent.

HSV-1 infections can happen from any number of physical activities like kissing, eating from the same utensils, sharing lip balms etc. The spread of this virus is more probable when the infected person is going through an outbreak such as sores on the lips. It is also possible to get it through sexual activities.

 

The HSV-1 is unique in the sense that it infects only humans and not any other creature. Once the Herpes Simplex virus has infected you, it can proceed to 3 stages. They are mentioned as follows:

  1. Primary Infection:

The virus enters your skin or mucous membranes and begins multiplying. This is the time when symptoms like oral sores and fever starts cropping up.

There are also situations where the virus may not cause any symptoms. In this case, it is called asymptomatic infection. These are more likely to happen that the symptoms.

  1. Latency:

From the infected site, the virus moves to a mass of nervous tissue in your spine called the dorsal root ganglion. There the virus reproduces again and becomes inactive.

  1. Recurrence:

When you encounter certain stresses, emotional or physical, the virus may reactivate and cause new sores and symptoms.

 

Oral Herpes Signs and Symptoms

For every Herpes infection, there is an incubation period. What it means is that there is a certain ‘delay’ period between the contact with the virus and the occurrence of symptoms.  In case of HSV-1, the incubation period is around 2-12 days but on an average for most people it is 4 days.

The ensuing fever can last up to 3 weeks. There will be pain, burning, itching sensation at the site of infection which is on and around the lips. This is will be accompanied by the appearance of blisters.

 

Diagnosis

A proper diagnosis of this disease can be made just with a physical exam. The physician or doctor can check the body for the presence of any sore on it and question about the problems and symptoms that you have faced.

The physician can then recommend going for Herpes testing which is also known as herpes culture to confirm the diagnosis. During this procedure, the physician will take a fluid sample from the sore and then send it to the laboratory for testing.

Blood tests looking for antibodies to HSV-1 and HSV-2 may also be used to diagnose these infections. This is especially helpful when there are no sores present.

 

 

Treatment

There is currently no know treatment for the cure of herpes. Give the nature of the ailment, that is being a virus it is very difficult to create a cure for it. All is not lost, however, since there are medications which can mitigate the symptoms and also decrease their occurrence to a significantly less amount.

 

There 3 most popular choices in the market nowadays are as follows:

  1. Acyclovir
  2. Famciclovir
  3. Valacyclovir

 

These medications can help infected individuals reduce the risk of spreading the virus to other people. The medications also help to lower the intensity and frequency of outbreaks. These medications may come in oral (pill) form, or may be applied as a cream. For severe outbreaks, these medications may also be administered by injection.