Understanding the Stages of Herpes Infection
Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus.
The infection caused by this virus can be oral or genital in nature.
The main difference in the two conditions is in regards to the area where the blisters or cold sores appear.
Stages of Oral Herpes
There are essentially six stages of herpes that you can differentiate:
Stage 1: Prodrome – Almost as soon as the virus comes in contact with the skin, it causes a tingling feeling that leads to immediate redness. Itchiness starts in the area within a couple of days in this stage.
Stage 2: Inflammation – This is the stage in which the condition is noticed in most cases since the itching in stage prodrome is often neglected or ignored. The contaminated area becomes swollen and inflamed but this does not happen to such an extent to be excessively obvious.
Stage 3: Blisters – The swelling and inflammation turns into small red bumps that are then filled with watery fluid. They tend to appear in clusters and are extremely sensitive to touch. This is the stage when the herpes starts to get painful. The blisters also tend to remain as it is without any visible signs of changing for about 2 to 3 days.
Stage 4: Ulcers – In the ulceration stage, the blisters start to ooze leaving wet ulcers. These ulcers look like small cuts. Being the most painful stage of the herpes outbreak, this is the stage when people look for topical creams and home remedies for some temporary relief too. This is also the most infectious stage and care should be taken to avoid further self-contamination or infecting others.
Stage 5: Crust – In this stage the sores or blisters finally begin to heal. A crust starts to form over the blister that allows the skin below it to heal without being attacked by pollution and other pathogens in the air. The scab or crust falls off when the skin heals underneath. This takes about 2 to 3 days.
Stage 6: Complete healing – Once the scab falls off the new skin below is virus free. It is advised not to pull the scab off since that can leave a scar. In case the scab does come off and there is some scarring, different ointments can be used to reduce the discoloration.
Now that you know the different stages, try and identify the herpes before it reaches stage 3. Doing this will help you control the outbreak so that it lasts for a shorter duration the next time.
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