What You Need to Know About Herpes

23 Apr

Herpes is the umbrella term for a group of highly-infectious diseases caused by the herpes simplex virus. What most people are not aware of is that herpes can’t be cured and is very contagious even if there are no visible symptoms on the infected person.

Here are some facts about herpes that you need to remember.

Eight Herpes Viruses
There are 8 known herpes viruses that affect humans to date, but only herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 are usually included in health articles. HSV1 is commonly known as oral herpes, while HSV2 is called genital herpes. Both types can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, that is why you should avoid intimate contact with an infected person or share personal items such as towels, forks and spoons, and razors.

The other herpes simplex viruses are the following:

1. HHV3 or human herpes virus 3 affects the skin and causes either chickenpox or shingles.
2. HHV4 or infectious mononucleosis can be transmitted through the saliva, so avoid kissing, sneezing, coughing, and sharing utensils with other people.
3. HHV5 or cytomegalovirus is usually passed from one person to another through breastfeeding, organ transplant, blood transfusion, and intimate contact.
4. HHV6 affects newborn and young children and can cause a variety of diseases such as roseola and convulsions or febrile seizures.
5. HHV7 is almost like HHV6 and can also cause roseola, a viral infection that causes skin rashes and fever in children.
6. HHV8 is commonly found in HIV/AIDS patients with tumors called Kaposi’s sarcoma. It is also present in some types of HIV/AIDS-related cancer.

Herpes isn’t Curable
There is no known cure for herpes viruses today, but there are medications that will help treat the symptoms of the viral infection such as antiviral drugs. Herpes usually will show symptoms only during the primary infection and will remain dormant in the body. The goal of the treatment is to prevent the latent virus in the body from reactivating and showing symptoms such as the sores or blisters. It’s also important for the patient to get immediate treatment to prevent serious complications such as the occurrence of the infection in the gastrointestinal tract and in the brain.

1. Antiviral Medication. These types of drugs work best if the treatment is administered early or hours after the symptoms show. The most common antiviral drugs prescribed for patients who feel discomfort or a tingling sensation before the blisters appear are acyclovir, famciclovir, and valaciclovir.
2. Creams for Sores. For patients who have sores, a penciclovir cream is prescribed and must be applied every 2 hours. Other creams can also be used on the sores such as docosanol which should be applied 5 times a day.
3. Eye Drops. If the patient has herpes simplex keratitis, or infection of the eyes that cause sensitivity, tearing and blurred vision, he/she is given trifluridine eye drops.
4. Intravenous Antiviral. For infected newborns or for severe herpes infections, acyclovir or foscarnet is given to the patient intravenously.

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