herpes simplex viruses. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is usually associated with infections of the lips, mouth, and face and is often referred to as labial herpes. It is the most common herpes simplex virus and is usually acquired in childhood. By adulthood, up to ninety percent of individuals will have antibodies to HSV-1. Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) or genital herpes is sexually transmitted and is usually associated with genital ulcers or sores -- however individuals may harbor HSV-2 and not have developed any symptoms. Genital herpes can also be caused by HSV-1, but this is not as common. Up to twenty-thirty percent of U.S. adults have antibodies against HSV-2.
This paper discusses the effects of both labial and genital herpes in terms of typical consequences and more severe complications that are less likely to arise.
The first time a person is infected with HSV-1, he or she may not experience any symptoms. When the virus does cause cold sores, the symptoms are often the most severe the first time the cold sore develops and may include mouth soreness that makes it uncomfortable to eat drink and sleep, fever, sore throat swollen lymph nodes in the neck and drooling in small children. Also, during the first outbreak of cold sores, the blisters may spread to any part of the mouth.
Most people become infected with labial herpes as infants or your children from a parent who has the virus. Cold sores in infants and young children often go unnoticed or confused with other illnesses such as impetigo. Labial herpes usually stays in the body after the first cold sore outbreak and causes cold sores to recur throughout the infected individual's life. Although it's not known exactly what causes cold sores to recur, there are a variety of factors thought to trigger outbreaks such as:
Exposure to sunlight (especially on the lips).
Other infections, such as a cold or flu.
Injury to the lips or gums.
A weakened immune system, either due to medications such as corticosteroids or because of an autoimmune disease.
Cosmetic surgery such as dermabrasion or laser skin resurfacing.
Hormonal changes caused by a woman's menstrual cycle.
Sometimes when people are about to develop cold sores, they may feel tingling, burning, itching, numbness, tenderness, or pain in the area where the sores are going to appear. They will normally notice these symptoms six to forty-eight hours before the sores are visible.
The effects of labial herpes are usually more annoying than serious. Skin lesions, rashes and painful blisters that break and ooze cause mostly discomfort and embarrassment. However, labial herpes may spread to other skin areas and cause secondary bacterial skin infections and it can be life threatening in immunosuppressed people such as those with atopic dermatis, cancer and HIV infections. Also, labial herpes that spread to the eye is a leading infectious cause of blindness in the U.S., causing scarring of the cornea.
Symptoms of genital herpes vary by person and also by episode. Some people never have any signs while others have mild symptoms that they don't recognize until after many years. Others may have repeated outbreaks that are very uncomfortable. Some people who have latent herpes infection never experience signs or symptoms or have such mild symptoms that they may not recognize the infection for many years. For others, outbreaks can be repeated often and cause extreme discomfort.
When a person is first infected with genital herpes, their immune system is not well developed and the virus can multiply and spread more quickly than it might at later stages of the infection. First symptoms may appear within two weeks after the virus is transmitted and can be uncomfortable. First episode symptoms may include small pimples or blisters that curst over and scab like a cut and may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms, fever, and/or swollen glands in lymph nodes near the groin. First episodes can take as long as six weeks to heal fully and may be the most extreme outbreak a person will ever experience.
How often recurrent outbreaks occur depends upon the HSV type and how long the infection has resided in the body. Triggers for genital herpes are not well understood but it is believed that they include surgical trauma and excessive friction in the genital area. People with genital herpes caused by HSV-2 typically have a strong first episode followed…