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Herpes is a disease caused by the human herpes virus, belonging to the herpesvirus family (Herpesviridae). Herpes is a virus that can stay in the human body for a lifetime, causing disease against the background of a decrease in the body’s immune forces.

Herpes is a very common disease on our planet,it is found in 50-80% of Europeans, and in Asian countries, infection with this virus reaches 100%.

There are 8 types of herpes virus and related diseases:

  1. herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) – most often causes “fever” on the lips;
  2. herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) – predominantly causes damage to the genital organs;
  3. herpes virus type 3 (VVZ) – chickenpox virus, Zoster virus;
  4. herpes simplex virus type 4 (EBV) – Epstein-Barr virus, causes infectious mononucleosis, Burkitt’s lymphoma;
  5. herpes virus type 5 – human cytomegalovirus (CMV);
  6. herpes virus type 6 – is the cause of the development of systemic diseases during organ transplantation;
  7. herpes virus type 7 – presumably causes chronic fatigue syndrome;
  8. herpes simplex virus type 8 – Responsible for the development of Kaposi’s Sarcoma.

The most common are herpes simplex viruses types 1 and 2.

Most people come into contact with type 1 virus in childhood, while “acquaintance” with type 2 virus usually occurs with the onset of sexual activity.

Liberalization of relations between the sexes, an increase in the frequency of orogenital contacts have led to the fact that in more than a quarter of cases of manifestations of genital herpes, its cause is HSV-1, and often both types of the virus.

Infection mechanisms:

The herpes virus enters the body through the mucous membranes or through microscopic injuries on the skin (cuts, injections, scratches), and then spreads through the blood and lymph to all human systems. Herpes “settles” on the processes of nerve cells and moves smoothly towards the central nervous system, where it “settles” for life. At the same time, the presence of one type of herpes virus in the body does not exclude the possibility of infection with another type.

The source of infection can be:

  • sick man;
  • carrier of the virus (having no noticeable symptoms of the disease).

Transmission routes:

  • during pregnancy from mother to fetus, as well as during childbirth – the so-called downward path;
  • through a kiss, touch, kitchen utensils, a common towel, that is, by contact-household;
  • sexually.

Incubation period – the period from the moment of infection to the appearance of the first signs of the disease is from 2 to 10 days, sometimes reaching a month.

Herpes symptoms:

The appearance of redness, swelling on the skin or mucous membranes, accompanied by itching and soreness.

Then, at the site of the swelling, small bubbles with transparent contents appear. In the case of a massive lesion, the general condition may suffer: body aches, weakness, loss of appetite, fever.

After some time, the vesicles open with the formation of painful sores, which heal within 7-10 days, sometimes leaving behind hyperpigmentation, which eventually disappears without a trace.

However, the virus does not leave the body, but only “falls asleep”. Its “awakening” and the appearance of symptoms again (relapse of the disease) is facilitated by a number of factors that weaken the main enemy of herpes – the immune system. These include:

  • hypothermia
  • infections
  • Stress
  • Physical and mental strain
  • Menstruation
  • Pregnancy
  • ultraviolet irradiation
  • Alcohol
  • Some medicines

On average, about five relapses of the disease occur per year, while herpes, as a rule, affects the same areas. With a weakened immune system, rashes can occur on several areas of the skin and mucous membranes at once.

The most common localization of herpes are:

  • the area of ​​​​the nasolabial triangle with the defeat of the herpes simplex virus;
  • along the nerve trunks, for example, in the intercostal space, with lesions of herpes zoster;
  • genital area with genital herpes.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes appears 2-14 days after infection. Rashes can be located on the external genitalia, pubis, cervix, in the urethra, in the anus and buttocks, on the inner thighs.

The incidence of genital herpes is uneven and depends on age, gender, social level, marital status and even race. For example, for some reason, the dark-skinned population of our planet is more susceptible to genital herpes – almost five times more than the Caucasian race. Rarely do children suffer from it. But at 14-15 years old, and even earlier – in a word, with the onset of sexual activity – almost seven percent of adolescents are already “familiar” with genital herpes. And by the age of 30-40, the number of virus carriers reaches 30 percent.

A pregnant woman infected with the genital herpes virus runs the risk of infecting her child in 40% of cases. 85% of children become infected during childbirth, which is fraught with the development of cerebral palsy, epilepsy, blindness, deafness, etc. in the future. And only 5% of children become infected while still inside the uterus.

The mortality rate of newborns infected with herpes reaches 50-70%, and only 15% of the survivors remain healthy.

Who should be tested for herpes viruses without fail?

  • Women planning pregnancy.
  • Pregnant women, if they have separate rashes and complaints similar to those of herpes.
  • Men and women who have signs of genital herpes in themselves or their sexual partners.
  • Women and men with diseases of the genitourinary system that cannot be treated with antibiotics (cystitis, urethritis, proctitis, in women also cervicitis).
  • Newborns with signs of herpes.

Diagnosis and treatment:

Currently, the main method for detecting the virus is polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and other molecular biological methodswhich are based on the detection of virus DNA.

The material for the study is a scraping from the genitals. The body’s response to the introduction of the virus is assessed by the level of antibodies produced.

The detection of IgG indicates ever contact with the herpes virus (IgG to HSV is present in the vast majority of the adult population), and IgM is an indicator of a fresh infection or an exacerbation of a chronic infection (with the first, antiherpetic IgG are absent, and with the second, they are detected). For this analysis, you need to donate blood from a vein.

When the first symptoms of the disease appear, you should immediately consult a doctor and start drug therapy. Self-medication is unacceptable, since it is possible to attach a secondary infection and develop severe complications.

The method of protection against infection with genital herpes is a condom, although it does not guarantee 100% protection against infection. In a couple where one of the partners is a carrier of genital herpes, a course of drug therapy may be prescribed to a healthy partner to protect against infection.

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