Herpes is the scientific name used for eight related viruses of humans. Herpes simplex is related to the viruses that cause infectious mononucleosis (Epstein-Barr Virus), chicken pox and shingles (varicella zoster virus).
The herpes simplex virus (HSV) can cause blisters and sores almost anywhere on the skin. These sores usually occur either around the mouth and nose, or on the genitals and buttocks.
HSV infections can be very annoying because they can periodically reappear. The sores may be painful and unsightly. For chronically ill people and newborn babies, the viral infection can be serious, but rarely fatal.
There are two types of HSV: Type 1 and Type 2
The Type 1 virus causes cold sores. Most people get Type 1 infections during infancy or childhood. They usually catch it from close contact with family members or friends who carry the virus. It can be transmitted by kissing, sharing eating utensils, or by sharing towels. The sores most commonly affect the lips, mouth, nose, chin or cheeks and occur shortly after exposure. Patients may barely notice any symptoms or need medical attention for relief of pain.
The Type 2 virus causes genital sores. Most people get Type 2 infections following sexual contact with an infected person. The virus affects anywhere between 5 and 20 million people, or up to 20 percent of all sexually active adults in the United States. With either type of herpes simplex, you can spread lesions by touching an unaffected part of the body after touching a herpes lesion.
Herpes zoster, also known as shingles or zoster, is a viral infection caused by the same virus that causes chicken pox. Anyone who's had chicken pox can develop herpes zoster. The virus remains dormant or inactive in certain nerve root cells of the body and only when it reactivates does zoster occur. About 20 percent of those people who have had chicken pox will get zoster at some time during their lives. Fortunately, most people will get zoster only once.
It is not clear what prompts the virus to reactivate or "awaken" in healthy people.
A temporary weakness in immunity (the body's ability to fight infection) may allow the virus to multiply and move along nerve fibers toward the skin. Although children can get zoster, it is more common in people over the age 50. Illness, trauma and stress may also trigger a zoster attack.
The information above is provided by the American Academy of Dermatology.
For more details, please refer to the links below. There are a variety of treatment options available for these infections. It is highly recommended that you consult with a physician for treatment options for this condition. Abrams Dermatology is highly qualified to diagnose and treat this condition. Call today to schedule an appointment.
If you'd like to learn more about herpes and shingles, browse some of the links below for information provided by some of the top dermatological resources available online.
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