Oral Herpes – Symptoms and Prognosis
Oral herpes is the more common form of the herpes simplex infection.
A large number of people, however, are unaware of the condition since it is asymptomatic in many cases.
In other cases, the symptoms are so mild that they are often ignored or treated casually.
There are two types of the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) – HSV-1 and HSV-2. Oral herpes is primarily caused by HSV-1. It affects the lips and face and in some cases, the eyes.
When it is symptomatic, the symptoms of oral herpes change as the condition progresses.
Symptoms of Oral Herpes
– Initial signs
o Pain, itching and burning sensation in the affected area. This usually lasts between 2 to 10 days after exposure to the virus.
o In certain cases, other symptoms like sore throat, fever, painful swallowing and swollen lymph nodes may also be observed.
– Fluid filled blister
o Small whiter blisters with clear yellowish fluid or red bumps may appear after a few days of the initial signs.
o Small blisters grow and group together to form large blisters.
o Blisters may rupture, ooze or bleed to form ulcers.
o Scabs may form as the ulcer heals.
The herpes virus cannot survive outside the body. This is why it is unlikely for the infection to spread due to contact with towels, toilet surfaces or other stuff used by an infected individual.
Oral Herpes – Prognosis
Once inside, the herpes virus never really leaves the body. At the same time, it is not active all the time and remains in a latent state. Symptoms of an initial oral herpes infection subside after a week or two but may recur any time. Recurrences and the duration of each symptomatic phase can be reduced with medication.
While the exact causes of recurrences are not fully known, the use of immuno-suppressant drugs has been identified as a possible trigger. It is also believed that symptoms of oral herpes may be triggered by menstruation in women. Other possible triggers include stress, fever and being out in the sun for long periods.
Oral herpes can be extremely dangerous when it affects the eye or the area around it. Herpes of the eye or herpetic simplex keratitis is one of the leading causes of blindness in the United States.
Oral herpes can also be dangerous if the infected person has a weak immune system. In such cases, herpes can spread to other parts of the body and pose a threat to life since it can lead to higher susceptibility towards HIV infection, atopic dermatitis or cancer.
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Herpes infections can be bothersome and rather distressing at times. Safe and effective treatments are available that can make living with Herpes a lot easier.
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