Types of Herpes Simplex
There are 2 main types of Herpes that are relatively common namely, Herpes Simplex and Herpes Zoster
Herpes simplex is a common viral infection that most people will experience at some stage of their life. The appearance is usually seen as a cold sore on the face. There are 2 types of herpes simplex virus:
Type 1 is linked to facial infections i.e. cold sores or fever blisters. Type 1 causes gingivostomatitis – a lesion around the mouth. It is commonly seen in children between the age of 1 and 5 years. A fever which can last up to 5 days occurs and there is dribbling and foul breath. Lymph glands are often enlarged. Eating and drinking can be painful. On the tongue, cheeks and throat, white patches with small blisters can be seen.
Type 2 is linked to herpes of the genital area. The infection of Type 2 is generally more severe than with Type 1. In males, ulcers occur on the shaft of the penis, the glans and foreskin. In females the herpes occurs on the external genitalia, vagina, vulva and internally on the cervix. Severe ulceration of the cervix can occur.
Passing of urine can be difficult and the lesions can be painful.
The risk of contracting a herpes infection after having sexual contact with someone who is infected with active lesions, is around 75%
The incubation period is 2-12 days and the lesions usually last for 2 to 3 weeks.
Occurrence of Herpes Simplex
Type 1 herpes simplex usually causes an infection in infants and young children. The infection is usually mild and goes relatively unnoticed. The infection is much greater in third world countries but relatively low in high socioeconomic countries.
Type 2 herpes infection occurs mainly after puberty and is mostly transmitted sexually. .
Herpes ZosterHerpes zoster is commonly referred to as shingles. It is caused by the chickenpox virus. Chickenpox usually occurs in childhood. During this time the virus adheres to nerve cells in the spinal cord. The virus lays dormant for years, but when reactivated it grows along the nerves to the skin. The result is a painful cluster or blisters that usually follow the direction of the nerve supply (dermatone).
Usually only one side of the body is affected and pain and blisters are experienced on the chest, back, neck and forehead.
Shingles can be extremely painful, and can be present for several days prior to the skin eruption of blisters. Fever, headache, enlarged and tender lymph nodes often occurs with shingles. In some instances pain can persist for many months (post-herpetic neuralgia).
Reoccurrence of herpes
Reoccurrence of Type 1 herpes simplex tends to produce smaller lesions around the mouth with smaller, grouped blisters. Reoccurrence of Type 2 herpes simplex tends to be confined to the same area (buttocks and groin) but can also occur on the face.
The distribution of the blisters can be in a cluster or a line with an underlying red base. Enlarged lymph nodes and mild fever occasionally occurs with the infection.
Recurrences can be triggered by:
- emotional stress and fatigue
- infections including upper respiratory tract infections
- trauma to the affected area
- high arginine and low lysine diet
- unprotected sex (including oral sex)
- a compromised immune system
- menstruation in females
- dental surgery
- trauma to the skin or ganglia
- sun and ultraviolet light exposure
Long term effects of Herpes
Although the disorder itself causes embarrassing lesions that are fairly obvious, Herpes simplex is not a particularly serious disorder in terms of the extent of the lesions.
Occasionally complications such as an eye or throat infection, eczema or erythema multiforme can occur
Long term however, recent studies have found that the presence of the herpes virus is linked to other health disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. For this reason alone, it is highly important that the virus is properly eradicated from the body.