Herpes Virus (HSV-1 & HSV-2) Treatments
Herpes simplex viruses (HSVs) - more commonly known as "herpes" - are common viral infections that are present in millions of people worldwide. Cold sores (HSV-1) are one common manifestation; genital herpes (HSV-2) is another. There is no cure for herpes, but a dermatologist can help you keep symptoms and flare-ups under control and can also provide you with guidance so you don't spread the disease to someone else. In Clark, Kearny, Teaneck, or Staten Island call Metropolitan Dermatology for a consultation with our dermatologists.
HSV is divided into two groups: HSV-1, which usually affects the lips and areas around the mouth or nose, and HSV-2, which causes sores to form around the genitals or rectal area. HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes, although it's much less common.
HSV-1 is transmitted via saliva, and can be spread through kissing or oral sex or by sharing eating utensils, drinking glasses or toothbrushes. Generally, HSV-2 can only be contracted through sexual contact with an infected person. Both types can be spread even when there are no visible sores.
The virus typically goes through active and dormant periods. When a dormant infection becomes active, it's usually because the virus is "awakened" by illness, stress, extreme fatigue or injury to the area that's affected. Immunosuppression due to chronic illness or certain medications can also cause flare-ups.
Signs and Symptoms
Herpes typically appears as a blister or cluster of painful blisters which break open and ooze, often leaving painful sores or scabs. Most people do not have any symptoms until the disease suddenly becomes active and causes pain and discomfort.
Initial outbreaks often cause more pain than subsequent outbreaks. Oral breakouts are often preceded by tingling or burning in the affected area (usually the lips) prior to the emergence of blisters. Genital outbreaks may cause pain or burning on urination, or may make urinating difficult. In addition, there may be a discharge from the vagina or penis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
In most cases, a dermatologist can diagnose herpes based on its appearance. However, when testing is needed, a virus culture can be performed to confirm diagnosis. A type of DNA test called a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test can also be used for confirmation.
Without a cure, treatment of both types of herpes is aimed at lessening symptoms, including relieving pain and speeding healing time. In addition to oral and topical medications, our doctor may recommend the use of warm baths to relieve the pain associated with HSV-2 or warm compresses for discomfort that may occur with HSV-1.
Outcomes and Follow-up
Because there is no cure for herpes, it's critical to take proactive steps to ensure you do not affect others. Our dermatologists can help you learn how to do this. It's also important for pregnant women to take special precautions to ensure the virus is not spread to their child, especially during the birth process. Our physicians can also help you learn how to identify what triggers your flare-ups so you can take steps to avoid those triggers whenever possible.