Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is one of the two types of herpes simplex viruses; it may also be called HSV-1. This virus is more common than its counterpart and is the culprit for oral sores or cold sores. Herpes simplex virus type 1 may also cause genital herpes but most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is usually transmitted through touching the oral secretions on the skin. Direct contact to an infected person through kissing or sharing personal items like eating utensils and handkerchiefs are the most common ways to spread HSV-1. Both types of viruses may be spread even when there are no noticeable sores or blisters. Here are more herpes simplex virus type 1 facts:
- HSV-1 is a kind of herpes virus that only affects humans.
- Although mouth sores are very common in children, it can affect adults as well in any time of the year.
- HSV-1 infection is made of three stages. Primary infection or stage 1 is when the virus enters the body through small breaks in the skin or mucous membrane. It is in stage 1 when a person develops oral sores and fever. Latency period or stage 2 is after the virus wreaks havoc it searches for a nerve where it can hold on to and reproduce. This happens even without any noticeable symptoms. The virus becomes inactive but becomes reactivated when the body becomes compensated or the immune system is weakened. Recurrence or stage 3 is when the virus in the nerve root has become active once more. When a person is stressed, fatigued, have hormonal imbalances and has other medical conditions, the HSV-1 may recur.
Symptoms of HSV-1
Symptoms of herpes simplex virus type 1 may vary depending on the time of the infection. During the incubation period which is the time between the person is exposed to the virus to the time the first symptom appear, there is little to no sign that you have been infected. Some however feel weak, uneasy and feverish which lasts from 2 to 12 days averaging 4 days.
During the duration of the illness, which is from two to three weeks, an infected person will develop the following signs and symptoms:
- Pain on the affected site and in the case of oral sores, there is pain around the mouth and on the lips even before the first sore appears.
- Sores appear almost after you feel pain on your lips and on the surrounding areas of the mouth. There is intense pain and itching which could affect eating, talking, speaking and drinking. Sores may appear on the lips, skin around the mouth, the gums, inside the cheeks, the tongue, throat and even along the roof of the mouth.
Sores start out as small bumps and blisters which may group together to form a large sore. These blisters erupt and ooze liquid that are filled with viruses. As these blisters dry out and begin to heal, they may look like small shallow ulcerated skin with a red base. Over a few days to a week, the sores develop crusts and become scabbed. The hallmark yellow color appears and sores become dry as well.
- There is also pain on the neck as lymph nodes swell. This is extremely painful which may also be accompanied by high fever, sore throat, colds and cough. There is a noticeable greyish coat on the tonsils which are very common in teens and young adults.
- There is an undeniable feeling of weakness and restlessness as you worry about your illness. Seeing your face with oral sores is also very depressing which can also lead to stress and possibly poor compliance to important preventive measures to reduce spread of the virus.
Diagnosis of HSV-1
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is diagnosed by careful assessment of the signs of symptoms presented by the patient. A doctor or dermatologist will also make careful analysis of the appearance of your blisters and rashes to be able to accurately gauge the best treatment available for your condition. Doctors may also get tissue samples from your blisters to accurately make a diagnosis. There may be more procedures to diagnose HSV -1 infection like staining tests and antigen and antibody studies.
Treatment of HSV-1
Treatment for HSV-1 includes taking care of various symptoms that accompany the illness. Mild symptoms are self-limiting but severe symptoms are usually treated with antiviral medications.
- Treatment of HSV-1 starts with a visit to your doctor. He will make a careful assessment of your condition and will conduct tests to determine if you are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1. Skin tests with the use of tissue samples are done to make concrete diagnosis. Your doctor will gauge if you need to use antiviral medications since most HSV-1 infections may just self-limit or go away without any treatment at all.
- Antiviral medications like acyclovir and valacyclovir are the most commonly prescribed medications to treat the symptoms of herpes. Antiviral medications act by interrupting the replication of viral DNA which interferes with the reproduction of new viruses. These will reduce the symptoms like pain, itching and possibly promote better healing of blisters or sores. Antiviral medications are prescription medications and there are several medications that may interfere with their therapeutic use. You must notify your doctor if you have other medical illness as well as taking medications for these and if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Symptoms like fever and pain may be controlled by taking pain relief medications and by practicing home treatment measures like using cold compresses and tepid sponge baths. Itching of the blisters and sores may be relieved by applying cold compress or ice on the site. Never apply anti-itch ointments or creams on open or oozing blisters. Advise patient not to touch or pick his blisters.
- Bed rest and temporary cessation of work or school is recommended for people who are infected with HSV-1, this will help the body recover faster and to allow the immune system to fight the virus as well. Eating well and taking more fluids than usual is advised; taking more water and fluids will reduce fever and will help prevent dehydration which is also possible side effects of taking antiviral medications.
Prevention of HSV-1
The best way to prevent the spread of herpes simplex virus type 1 is to practice cleanliness and personal hygiene. Wash your hands every time you deal with patients who are diagnosed with the virus. Avoid sharing eating utensils, tableware and personal items with an infected person. Avoid close personal contact until all the blisters and lesions have healed. Build up your resistance to infection by eating healthy, taking vitamin supplements and making smart lifestyle choices. Avoid drinking alcohol and smoking which can impair your immune system. Avoid stress and anxiety by staying fit and happy all the time. All these play a great role in the prevention of HSV-1.