Herpes labial

Herpes/Herpes labial symptoms and treatment

What is it ? herpes/herpes labial


Herpes is a viral disease caused by a virus: Herpes simplex virus type 1 or 2 (HSV1 or HSV2). It can be located at the level of the mouth (cold sores), around the nostrils, inside the mouth, at the back of the throat, on the gums, on the cheeks, on the forehead, on the genitals or still on the eyes (ocular herpes). Note that genital herpes is a virus similar to that of herpes labial but slightly different. Thus, it is rare that a cold sore is at the origin of genital herpes and vice versa.
The herpes virus can be found in the lesions but also in saliva, nasal secretions and tears. Contamination is by direct contact with lesions or contaminated secretions. Self-contamination is also common. The carrier contaminates another part of his body through the hand. Finally, contagion is possible from the first symptoms and ends when the crusts dry.
Attention, contamination between outbreaks of genital herpes is possible because some infected people can excrete the virus in the absence of symptoms. These periods seem rare (one to two days every three months or so) but can nevertheless be enough to contaminate a partner


Symptoms of the initial infection herpes/herpes labial

After exposure to the virus, the first symptoms may appear between 2 to 20 days (primary initial infection). It is possible to never develop symptoms or to have atypical, minor, and therefore ignored symptoms.

The manifestations are identical to herpes labialis but localized on the genital mucosa (vulva, anal region, vaginal entry, glans). After a first attack of genital herpes, 50 to 70% of patients will not suffer from subsequent manifestations. The recurrences will be in the form of vesicles on the penis, the vulva, the cervix, but sometimes also on the buttocks or the legs. They are announced by a local pain easily recognizable.

Genital herpes and pregnancy
In the event of a genital herpes crisis at the time of delivery, the baby could be contaminated. Nevertheless, the risk of infection in the newborn remains very low, if no active lesion is detected in the days or weeks preceding childbirth.
If lesions are present before delivery, the doctor may recommend a caesarean section because transmission of herpes can cause severe pneumonia in the newborn.


How to prevent and treat?

Herpes is very contagious. Sexual intercourse (cunnilingus and fellatio included) must be protected for the duration of the treatment. You should also wash your hands after touching herpes lesions. Unlike cold sores, local anti-viral treatments (cream type) are not used. Only in the form of tablets, they are taken on about ten days during the primary infection, for a shorter duration (five days) during outbreaks. If the frequency of genital herpes outbreaks is high, treatment over several months may be prescribed. As in any sexually transmitted disease, partners should be treated equally.

Ocular herpes
Ocular herpes is a fairly common condition that can be very serious. It comes from infection with the herpes labialis virus. At the origin of 10 to 20% of corneal transplants, ocular herpes affects 60,000 people in France each year. When she recives, without adequate treatment, infection of the eye with the virus can lead to loss of vision. The current drugs allow a good remission and cicatrization rather fast but do not avoid possible recurrences.

What are the symptoms of cold sores?

The herpes crisis has several stages. First itching and tension are felt on one point of the lip, sometimes with headaches and fatigue. After one or more days, vesicles containing a flesh liquid are formed (herpes vesicles). Quickly, they become opaque, open and a crust appears. After ten to fifteen days, the lesion heals without leaving a scar.

What to do in case of cold sores?

As contagion is maximal at the time of eruption, it is recommended to:
• do not kiss anyone,
• avoid touching the vesicles,
• avoid close contact with young children or with eczema,
• wash your hands and face,
• wash the button and dry it with a warm hair dryer or a sheet of paper towel,
• do not share their laundry (towels, washcloths, pillows or other) with the entourage,
• do not moisten contact lenses with saliva,
• abstain from contact sport until healing.

What are the factors triggering recidivism?

Some factors promote the thrust of herpes: sun, cold, fever, stress, menstruation, some medications, fatigue …

What are the possible complications of cold sores?

Cold sores are usually mild and do not give rise to complications. However, in very rare cases, herpes can cause a serious infection of the brain: herpetic encephalitis, the incidence of which is higher in children under 3 years or in adults over 50 years. It is characterized by a rapid onset (less than 48 hours), with fever at 40 ° C, headache, disorders of character, language and memory, seizures, and coma.

What are the treatments ?

The pain can be relieved by oral analgesics. A mild antiseptic solution may be applied once or twice daily to the lesion. Local treatments, including antivirals (containing aciclovir), are available without a prescription. They are indicated for localized cold sores and should not be used for lesions located elsewhere than on the lips.

In some cases, especially during the first cold sore or in case of frequent herpes attacks, the doctor may prescribe an anti-herpes medicine in the form of tablets. Taking antivirals daily can prevent the virus from multiplying and, therefore, reactivating itself.

Finally, studies suggest the effectiveness of some local treatments based on plant extracts.

Genital herpes, a common sexually transmitted disease
Modes of contamination

The genital herpes virus is transmitted through contact with the genitals, even without penetration, or through contact with infected genital secretions.

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