Herpes infection or Herpes simplex is a disease which is viral caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1 and type 2 or HSV-2. Persons with weak and suppressed immune system like in newborns, AIDS, and transplant patients are more prone to acquiring this infection.
Herpes infection is categorized into different forms depending on the site of infection.
· Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is common in children. The visible symptoms are fever blisters, cold sores which affects the face and mouth.
· Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is the second common type next to oral herpes.
· Other Herpes
These are other types of herpes which are all caused by herpes simplex virus: Herpes gladiatorum, herpes whitlow, ocular herpes or keratitis, encephalitis cerebral herpes infection, neonatal herpes, Mollaret’s meningitis. Bell’s palsy is possible.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 causes face, eye, mouth, throat, and central nervous system infections.
Herpes simplex virus type 2 causes genital infections.
In all herpes infection cases, the virus is never removed by the immune system. It always stays in the body once you have it. After a primary infection, the nerves are entered by the virus at the primary infection site, migrate to the neuron’s cell body and become hidden in the ganglion. As a result, antibodies are produced by the body for the particular herpes simplex virus type to prevent further infection to a different site. In HSV type-1 infected persons, additional infection is infected through seroconversion or development of specific antibodies in the blood serum. If a person is infected with HSV type-2, the symptoms are minimal because of the help of seroconversion. Seroconverstion is like being immunized for HSV type-1.
Through clinical examinations, orofacial herpes are identified to persons who have no history with such lesions or contact with persons having HSV type-1 infection. The distribution and appearance of sores appear as round, multiple, superficial oral ulcers with acute gingivitis. Sometimes, orofacial herpes lesions are mistaken as impetigo, a bacterial infection, if lesions are not seen inside the mouth. Adults with presentations that are non-typical are difficult to diagnose.
Genital herpes in persons infected with HSV type-2 virus are more difficult to diagnose because there are other conditions that resemble genital herpes such as lichen planus, fungal infection, urethritis and atopic dermatitis. Laboratory tests are done to diagnose genital herpes which include virus culture, virus detection through direct fluorescent antibody studies, polymerase chain reaction to identify DNA virus, and skin biopsy. These laboratory tests are specific when it comes to diagnosing but because of high cost, it constrains the infected persons from submitting themselves to test.
Herpes simplex virus can’t be eradicated in the body and there is still no discovered method for it. However, there are antiviral medications that can lessen the outbreak severity, duration and frequency of infection. Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are analgesics to relieve pain and fever.
Antiviral agents include acyclovir, valacyclovir, penciclovir and famciclovir. Acyclovir is the first discovered drug for herpes simplex virus and is now available in generic forms.