The HSV-1 virus is better known as herpes simplex or labial herpes. Most of us are carriers of it. The herpes virus type 1 can remain dormant for a long time and only show up when our immunity is weakened.
The symptoms of herpes labialis are not difficult to recognize, and almost all adults know them well. Although the appearance of herpes in most people only causes unpleasant itching and burning, in extreme cases, it can be very dangerous to the health of, for example, newborns.
What is herpes?
Cold sores (HSV-1 virus), also known as “cold,” often attacks during the spring and fall solstices. Once the virus enters the body, after the symptoms of infection have been healed, the painful bubbles that form most often on the lips go into the dormant stage. It is reactivated when the body weakens or suddenly becomes cold. Oral herpes, or type 1 herpes, affects the mouth, nose, chin, oral mucosa and can be transferred to the eye mucosa. HSV-2, or type 2 herpes, appears in the genital area. There is a slight risk of transmitting herpes labialis to the intimate area, e.g., during oral sex.
Herpes – causes
The virus attacks us most often during the period of weakness caused by e.g., a cold, but it can also be activated under the influence of other factors, including:
- Overheating of the body,
- Hormonal changes before menstruation and during ovulation,
- Severe stress,
- Sudden change in ambient temperature.
We can easily contract the virus through contact with a sick person, e.g., by kissing and using the same towels, cutlery, and other items that have come into contact with the patient’s mouth. People with cold sores should avoid using shared hand towels, maintain good hand hygiene, and avoid touching the cold sores.
Herpes – symptoms
The first symptom that the HSV-1 virus has attacked is an unpleasant itching and burning sensation around the mouth. Then small, fluid-filled bubbles begin to appear, forming larger or smaller clusters. Serum content is located in gradually bursting and drying bubbles, transmits the virus, so you should not touch the lesion on the lip with your hands, scratch the scabs or pierce the bubbles.
Herpes symptoms last for several days, although in some cases, they can be annoying for a long time. It happens mainly in the case of weakened immunity and in a situation where we often suffer from herpes.
This virus does not require specific treatment in most cases. First of all, the local ointments for herpes, applied at the very first symptoms of infection, are helpful in this case. You can also decide to use oral antiviral medications that help you get rid of the troublesome symptoms of herpes faster.
Herpes can be easily transferred to e.g., the mucous membranes of the nose and eyes, so you should always wash your hands after applying the ointment on herpes and avoid touching the lesions. Scratching herpes, squeezing out the vesicles with serum fluid, and scraping off the scabs can result in scarring and cause secondary infections.
Home remedies for cold sores
Home treatments for herpes are not always effective, but it is worth trying them when you do not have a medicine for herpes in the medicine cabinet. Before we start treating herpes with home remedies, we must take care of hand hygiene before and after contact with the site of infection.
Home remedies for herpes are most effective at the very beginning of the disease. Applied immediately after the onset of the first symptoms, i.e., nagging itching and burning, it allows to shorten the duration of herpes and prevent its transmission to other places.
Garlic and onions are great for treating herpes as they destroy viruses and bacteria. We can also lubricate the changes:
- Zinc ointment;
- Hydrogen peroxide;
- An infusion of chamomile, cloves, thyme or sage;
- And tea tree oil;
- Anal with the person in whom the disease became active.
It can also spread from the mouth to the genitals or eyes, through the fingers or by sharing sex gadgets.
Though herpes on penis is most contagious in the onset of symptoms (2 to 20 days after contact with an infected person), it can also spread asymptomatically, thus posing a greater risk to the partner. Most cases of infection are recorded in the period when no symptoms have yet appeared.
Genital herpes cannot be effectively treated because there is still no effective cure for it. Research into new drugs is still ongoing, especially vaccines and preparations that stimulate the immune system. However, its symptoms can be significantly alleviated. Mostly antiviral drugs are used, both for external and oral use. The sooner you start taking your medication (within 72 hours of the onset of an ulcer), the more effective it is.
The most effective way to treat herpes
Very often, we hear about new drugs available for the HSV1 virus that can effectively cure herpes. Unfortunately, it is not possible to cure herpes because it is a virus that, once it enters our body, stays with us for the rest of our lives. The virus is made of protein and nucleic acid, which multiplies after entering the host cell. As a result of multiplication, virus cells can cause disease symptoms. There is no vaccine for the herpes viruses available, but research is still ongoing.
How to avoid infections and complications?
Unfortunately, recurrences of cold sores cannot be prevented. All that can be done is to reduce the risk of herpes recurring by strengthening immunity, using variable showers, consuming products with e.g., Echinacea extract, and products with live bacterial cultures.
It is recommended to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals. Avoid exhaustion and stress, and in summer, it is advisable to use lipstick with UV filters many times. Avoid too strong ultraviolet radiation and strong winds.
Herpes – complications:
- Secondary infection of bacterial or fungal eruptions,
- Disseminated infection (including the esophagus, adrenal glands, lungs, joints, central nervous system),
- Erythema multiforme,
When the herpes virus is transferred to the eye, it can cause inflammation of the cornea or meninges. Then treatment must be started quickly so that there is no loss of vision or neurological complications,
In the case of an infection in a pregnant woman, the newborn may become infected in diffuse vesicular eruptions on the skin, or severe inflammation of the brain, liver and other organs, leading to death.
How to protect yourself against herpes?
Avoid kissing someone with herpes when they have fresh patches on the skin of their lips. It is necessary to follow hygiene, not use the same towels, cutlery, and not to drink from one cup or bottle.
Do not touch infected areas (including vectors). It is very easy to transfer the virus from mouth to eye, so wash your hands thoroughly after each application. You should dress in layers to easily adapt to the prevailing temperature, so as not to overheat or cool the body.
- Avoiding excessive stress;
- All infections should be treated.
Herpes, shingles, and chickenpox: what is the connection between these diseases?
All these diseases are viral diseases belonging to the largest viral family. Herpesviruses are called parasites, microscopic biological creatures from the borderline of the natural world. They are distinguished by the lack of their systems necessary for life.
To exist, they must constantly circulate between living organisms. They reproduce only in their cells, where they take control of the processes so that more viruses are produced.
Is it possible to catch herpes from someone who has no visible changes?
The necessary situation for the transmission of HSV to another person is the loss of continuity of skin tissues or mucous membranes. The easiest way to get infected is direct contact with lesions of the active herpes nature. However, outside the body, the HSV virus can survive up to several days (on clothes, door handles, dishes).
We can also get infected from the so-called HSV carrier when asymptomatic viral excretion occurs. Viral shedding occurs even in half of those infected who have never had clinical symptoms! An infected person often does not know that they are a carrier of the herpes virus, and rarely realizes that they are a potential threat to others.
Can herpes affect pregnancy?
Lip herpes is an extremely common condition, usually troublesome, but harmless to health or life. Some cases are asymptomatic, and an infected person may not be aware that they are carrying the virus. Primary herpes infection during pregnancy may hurt the course of pregnancy and the health of the child. It can lead to miscarriage, premature birth, or neurological disorders in the baby.
However, if a woman had a disease at least once before pregnancy, it already has the antibodies and will pass them on to the baby. Therefore, the gynecologist during the examination must ask the pregnant woman if she suffered from herpes and, in certain cases, orders the mother’s antibodies to be tested.
If it does, the risk to the baby is much less. If not, you need to be very careful in the first weeks of a child’s life and possibly consider prophylactic treatment. Equally important for further management is whether the pregnant partner is a carrier of HSV.