Herpes simplex

Herpes simplex is a viral infection caused by the HSV virus and it is characterized by a periodical appearance of red vesicles filled with liquid on the skin and mucosa. It is most common on the lips and the skin around the mouth and the nose, then genitals, but it appears on other parts of the body. Once contracted, the HSV virus stays in the organism forever, dormant in our nerve cells.

Clinical picture of the infection is typical so the diagnosis is commonly established by an examination with the dermatologist. Rarely, it is necessary to do a swipe of one of the skin or mucosa changes or do a blood test.

There are two types of herpes simplex, type 1 and type 2:

Herpes simplex Type 1

Herpes type 1 is usually contracted during childhood in contact with friends or members of family which have an active virus in them. It is very easily transmitted via touch, kiss, by cough, sneezing or using common household items, most often towels or cutlery.

Herpes simplex Type 2

Herpes type 2 or genital herpes is transmitted by sexual contact. It usually appears in the same place and is connected to a decline in the immune system. In many cases the virus is spread even if there are no visible symptoms (asymptomatic spreading of the viruses). More about genital herpes read here.

How to treat herpes?

The biggest number of herpes cases is mild and treatment is not necessary. Changes in the skin and mucosa go away by them selves between seven and ten days. If necessary, antiviral medication such as aciklovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir are applied locally or orally, and they slow down the synthesis of the viral DNA. Also, these medications can be taken continually if herpes is recurrent. Changes in the skin can be treated with water and mild soap.

Spec. Dr. Svetlana Djurisic, dermatologist