Skin Herpes

In general, people think of herpes as a sexually infected disease.  Herpes is actually a collective name for a group of viruses that cause a variety of skin infections.  For instance, the varicella zoster virus causes chicken pox and shingles, the HSV-1 is the cold sore virus while the HSV-2 virus causes genital herpes.  HSV stands for Herpes Simplex Virus. The HSV-1 infection usually occurs in the region above the waist and the symptoms of the HSV-2 caused infection, is seen below the waist.


A Brief About Herpes


Herpes is an infection that can be seen on any part of the human skin.  Common areas of occurrence are around the mouth, buttocks, nose and genitals.  The infected region remains itchy, painful, has a certain ruddiness and causes a lot of embarrassment to the affected person.  Another disturbing fact about the infection is that it reappears time and again in spite of the right kind of treatment.   The best way to try and prevent herpes from recurring is by maintaining and clean and hygienic lifestyle that has minimum stress


Prevalence of Herpes


50 to 75% of adults in the US have tested positive for the HSV-1 virus while more than 16% have tested positive for the HSV -2 virus.  However, only one in ten people exposed to the herpes virus show symptoms of the herpes sores and rash.  


How Herpes is Triggered


There are several reasons due to which herpes is triggered.  These include


1. Exposure to the sun


2. During menstruation



3. Irritation and itchiness at a site where herpes has occurred earlier


4. Aftermath of fever


It is seen that recurrent attacks of herpes tend to be milder.  Also infection caused by HSV - 1 virus recurs less often that that caused by HSV - 2.  Yet, there is no cause that can be pinpointed for the recurrence, nor can it be predicted before-hand.  




When the cornea (the membrane that covers the colored section of the eye) develops a swelling, the condition is known as keratitis.  This eye disease affects adults.  It is caused by the herpes simplex virus.  The other symptoms, both mild and severe are scarring, glaucoma, loss of vision and appearance of small blood vessels in the eye.  Keratitis should be treated as an emergency in order to prevent loss of vision.  


Managing Herpes


Here are some precautions and good practices to keep in mind to manage herpes. 


1. Avoid scratching, massaging or even touching the affected region right from the time the rashes appear, until they have been completely cured


2. Touching the sores helps spread the infection



3. If your hands come in contact with the affected region, then wash them with disinfectant soap and water


4. There are some prescribed medications to reduce symptoms and prevent recurrence of the infection like Valtrex and Zovirax.  


5. Maintain dryness in the affected region of the skin


Prevention of Herpes and its Recurrence


1. Do not share footwear, clothing, towels, napkins and handkerchiefs with a person who has been affected by herpes


2. Avoid sharing cups or kissing a person who has mouth lesions caused by the herpes virus



3. If there is a slight burning sensation or tenderness in the region that had been earlier affected by herpes then avoid letting that region come in contact with others


4. Avoid sexual relation with a person who has genital herpes


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