Nasal herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It may also be called cold sores, fever blisters or herpes simplex virus type 1. There are two types of nasal herpes – primary infections and recurring infections. In a primary infection, the characteristic cold sores appear 2 to 20 days after the person is infected; this kind of nasal herpes may last from a week to 10 days. There are no scars when a person recovers from a primary infection but the herpes simplex virus never leaves the person’s body.
A recurring infection is less severe in intensity as a primary infection but may recur within a couple of weeks or after a month. Recurring infections are often triggered by aggravating factors like stress, fever, trauma or even exposure to the sun.
Nasal herpes is spread by close contact. You can get nasal herpes by sharing a face cloth, bath towel and sharing meals.
Symptoms of nasal herpes
Initial symptoms are flu-like with fever, colds and cough. Some people may develop sore throat and enlarged lymph nodes along the neck area. Blisters appear on the nasal area (in or around the nose), along the mouth, lips and anywhere in the face. The lesions are filled with clear liquid that may burst and crack. When blisters erupt, these can lead to wounds which make a person susceptible to skin infections. Fever and colds subside after the blisters heal and it could take several days for the sores to completely heal.
Nasal herpes may also be found in other areas of the body like the buttocks and the genitalia. These sores are not just unattractive to look at but could also be painful and itchy at the same time. Nasal herpes is not a serious illness and many recover even without treatment but this viral infection however may seriously endanger people with low immunity, babies and very young children as well as adults who have chronic illnesses.
Treatment of nasal herpes
Nasal herpes may be treated with anti-viral medicines which may be brought over-the-counter. Here are some treatments to ease its symptoms:
· Increase fluid intake to reduce dehydration caused by very high fevers. Sponge bath may be given to reduce fever and keep the patient more comfortable.
· Increase diet of fruits and vegetables to strengthen the immune system.
· Fever may be reduced by taking fever medications and wearing loose clothing.
· Blisters must be left alone, never touch or pick at lesions and healing blisters. Cut children’s fingernails short and apply ice on the area to reduce pain or itching.
The most important part of nasal herpes treatment is the prevention of spread of infection. Do not share linens, tableware, personal items and food with anyone. If possible, isolate a person with nasal herpes in a separate room until he recovers. Always consult a doctor for worsening symptoms like very high fevers, pain and discharge from the blisters and any other signs of infection. Children who are infected with nasal herpes must seek consultation right away.