Herpes simplex is a contagious disease caused by several forms of related vira. It causes swelling, blisters and then sores in the ski or mucosal areas, usually at small spots, but the attack can grow to greater lesions. The lesions usually only affect the outer skin layer, epidermis, and at shallow depth in the underlying layer of the skin, the dermis..
Herpes is most frequent on the lips, around the mouth and just inside the mouth. The genital and rectal region is also often affected. Herpes can however attack any other skin area or mucosal area. Herpes infection in the eye is rare but can cause blindness, and herpes can sometimes cause a dangerous infection in the brain.
The herpes lesions will often cause tickling sensations during outbreak and burning, itching or sticking pain later. The pain from herpes attacking the genital area and other sensitive areas can be very intense.
There are many versions of herpes vira and the different versions tend to attack different body areas. The type HSV-1 mostly attack the mouth region and HSV-2 mostly the genital region.
An attack do not leave scars, unless the attack is severe and affect deeper layers in the skin.Herpes tend to reoccur around in the same area throughout life, but the frequency and severity of attacks often diminish as the years pass.
THE MECHANISM OF THE HERPES DISEASE
Herpes is usually transmitted with direct skin contact or with sexual intercourse. When a virus attacks a skin spot, it introduces itself in the epidermal cells. There it proliferates and destroys the cells, so that the epidermis at that place dissolves. Some of the vira also introduce themselves into the ending of nerve cells. From there they are carried upwards in the nerve cell to the cell body where the cell kernel is situated.
Now the virus particle dissolves, but special released substances from the virus take control and command the nerve cell to make a replica of the viral genome and introduce that replica in its own DNA.
At later times, when something trigger it, the nerve cell starts to copy the viral genome it has in itself, it makes new virus proteins and assembles new virus particles. The newly produced vira are then carried downwards to the skin where they are released and infect new skin cells, and then also new nerve cells.
Such new attacks from within tend to occur when a person is stressed by some impact, for example physical damage in the skin, another infectious disease, mental stress or physical and mental exhaustion. A common cold will often trigger a herpes outbreak. In some countries herpes is therefore called "cold sores".
The body will acquire immunity towards the virus, but the immune system do not manage to tidy the internal parts of the nerve cells for the viral material, so new attacks from vira produced inside the nerve cells cannot be totally hindered. If the immune system is effective enough, it can however stop new attacks before a visible lesion occurs..
HOW TO PREVENT AND TREAT HERPES
Infection by herpes can to some extend be hindered by avoiding contact with skin areas of other persons that have a herpes outbreak. A person that have a herpes lesion can also hinder transmission to new skin areas and to other persons by avoid touching the lesions with the hands and then transmitting the vira with hand contact It is especially important to hinder injured or sore skin or mucosa to come in contact with the virus.
The chance of acquiring herpes in the first place and steadily new versions of herpes infection can be diminished by having only one sexual partner at the time. Use of condom can also help to hinder genital herpes.
Keeping an attacked area clean and try will also help to hinder spread of the virus and to speed up healing.
New outbreaks can often be hindered with a healthy lifestyle involving good diet, the right amount of exercise, enough rest and sleep and by avoiding excessive mental and physical stress. Avoiding to acquire colds and other infections will often also hinder new outbreaks of herpes.
By severe pain from herpes lesions, topical analgesic drugs or numbing remedies that contain aromatic substances can be helpful. Aromatic ointments are also believed to speed up recovery by increasing blood flow in the area and certain tissue reactions. Strong aromatic remedies may however irritate special sensitive areas, like the genitals, and should be used with caution.
The oral anti-viral drugs Acyclovir, Famciclovir and Valaciclovir can help to prevent new outbreaks, speed up recovery from lesions and decrease the chance of spreading the virus. They are however not always effective and can cause side effects like headache, general uncomfortable feelings in the body, joints ache, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, decreased appetite, sometimes loose stool or constipation and with larger doses disturbances of kidney function.
The anti-viral agent Docosanol (Abreva) is used in creams to smear onto the skin. It prevents the virus from sticking to the cell membrane and thus hinder it from infecting the cell.
One is trying to develop a herpes vaccine, but it will probably not be available in some years.The development of such vaccines are also complicated by the many strains of the virus.
There are many alternative ointments, salves and oral drugs on the market formulated to prevent new herpes lesions from reappearing and to heal manifest lesions. These contain nutrients and stimulators that experience and research have shown to alleviate pain, stimulate the immune defense, to block the viral attack and to enhance healing of lesions.
Some of the ingredients used in these products are spirulina, red marine algae, Aloe vera sage, Saint John's Wart, Prunella vulgaris, Melissa oficinalis (Lemon balm), reishi mushroom, L-lycine, bee pollen, propolis, essential oils, licorize, reishi mushruum, Zinc, copper and sulphur,