Herpes Rx

Herpes Physiology


   Now remember that herpes is a virus.  This is different than a bacteria.  Think of a virus like a tiny organism that has armor, like a old time Knight.  This armor is what has made it difficult for the researchers to develop drugs to kill herpes.  With this armor for protection, the herpes virus then travels up the root system to the central nervous system, represented by the tree's trunk.  Here the herpes virus hibernates until it is reactivated.  Then it travels down the same root to the same area that the original infection was located.  When this occurs, a repeat infection occurs, but usually are not as bad as the first.  Sometimes a person notices when this occurs because they have early itching and burning in the area,  but no blisters.  Many repeat cases don't get any worse than that, lasting only 3-5 days.  However, some do progress to painful blisters that last a slight bit longer.   What causes the reactivation of the herpes virus ( HSV ) that lives in the spinal cord?   We are not exactly sure, however some believe that certain circumstances activate the virus to repeat the infection.  Recognized causes include stress, illness, and getting sun burned.

   It is thought that herpes became so wide spread because of unrecognized modes of transmission.  This means that  infected persons were contagious and didn't know it.  How does this occur?  Again, we are not exactly sure. It is believed that the virus sheds in small but contagious amounts from the nerve root that it originally infected, without showing any outward signs that that nerve root is re-infected.  The area of skin in which the nerve root exists is referred to as a dermatome.  A dermatome the term that doctors use to refer to areas of skin that a certain nerve supplies.  It is possible to infect additional nerve roots, in other areas of the skin, if exposed to an active viral infection.  This is how people get infections in other areas that the weren't originally infected in.  Each separately now represents a specific nerve ending that can become re-infected at any time when the conditions are right. 

Facts About Herpes

  • Percentage of adults that have herpes: 1 in 4
  • Estimated number of new cases of herpes a year: 1 million
  • Percentage of infected persons who don't know they have herpes:  Over 50% of those infected don't realize it because they don't have the classic outbreak pattern, and often dismiss it as an annoying itch or rash.
  • More woman have herpes than men.  
  • Genital Herpes that infects the tissue of the cervix is suspected to have a role in cervical cancer.  This is an important reason to have yearly pap smears.
  • Women that have genital herpes on their cervix may not feel it when they have an outbreak.  This is another reason for today's high rate of transmission.
  • Herpes Simplex I, also known as oral herpes, is the herpes that you typically get on your mouth/lips.  
  • Herpes Simplex II is the herpes that is typically know as genital herpes. 
  • You can get Herpes Simplex I ( HSV 1 ) on genitals, or you can get Herpes Simplex II ( HSV 2 ) in your mouth and throat.  This occurs through oral sex primarily.
  • Incidence of herpes infection by age group: 5-10% or teenagers, 15-20 % of those in their 20's, and 25-30% of those 30 years of age or older.
  • Incidence of herpes has risen 30 percent since 1970's
  • Viral shedding can transmit herpes to a baby during birth.  This can cause blindness and other serious health problems for the newborn baby.  It is very important to tell you physician if you know or think you may have  genital herpes. 
  • Viral shedding means that virus is being transmitted despite no obvious signs of infection.
  • You never get rid of herpes from your body once you catch it. You only control infection once they reactivate.
The Herpes virus infection varies depending on the site of infection; 1-oral herpes, or  on the lips, 2-genital herpes, 3-other body surfaces such as Herpes Zoster, or Shingles.   Typically oral infections are from Herpes Simplex I virus types, genital infections are from Herpes Simplex II virus types, or genital herpes.  Other body surfaces may be infected by type I or II strains, or by another one of the Herpes virus strains.  A common infection of another body surface often results in a condition called Shingles, also known as  Herpes Zoster.  It should be noted that treatment does not get rid of the virus from your body, but simply diminishes the symptoms of an active outbreak.  Some researchers believe that a persons that are infected, are contagious through viral shedding.  This is a situation where the viral particles escape the infected person's skin, even though they don't have obvious visible symptoms. Therefore, it is important to remember that treatment may not keep you from spreading the disease to someone else; including a baby during the birthing process. 

   The treatments for herpes infections include oral medication and topical cream. The location, length of time infected, and age of the patient often play a role in determining the exact dosage and combination of traditional medication.  Alternative Herpes treatments often involve natural herbal and nutritional substances.  The alternative treatments are often more successful in preventing outbreaks, than diminishing active infections.  It should be noted that little research exists to support alternative therapies, whether for preventative or active conditions.  Both traditional and alternative treatments are aimed at helping to  to cut down on the length of time symptoms are present, but do not automatically make the infection go away.  

Please check back soon for your one stop source for information pertaining to the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the Herpes Virus.  

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