Herpes is a type of viral infection caused by herpes simplex virus or HSV. Although herpes affects the mouth and genitals, it can manifest in other parts of the body. HSV-1 is called oral herpes. It affects the mouth and the face. On the other hand, HSV-2, which is genital herpes, affects the genitals. Both types of herpes infections are extremely contagious. HSV-1 can be transmitted through general interactions such as sharing utensils, kissing, etc. as well as oral sex. HSV-2 can be transmitted through sexual intercourse. This condition is typically diagnosed during a physical examination.
Signs and Symptoms of Herpes
The most common signs and symptoms of this condition are blisters or sores, painful urination, and itching. You will also experience flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, fatigue, and loss of appetite. The virus will gradually spread to the eyes, causing herpes keratitis. The symptoms of herpes keratitis are painful eyes, unusual discharge, and a gritty feeling in the eye.
Treatments for Herpes
Unfortunately, herpes has no known cure. The treatments are meant to eliminate sores, limit the outbreak and contain the virus. Do note that it is possible for the sores to disappear without treatment. But the sores will come back from time to time.
At the moment, there are three major types of herpes medications:
These drugs are meant to shorten the duration of the symptoms and minimize the severity of the flare-ups. Although they do not cure herpes, they make it easier to live with the disease. All herpes medications come in pill form. But in very severe cases of herpes, the drug acyclovir is administered intravenously. Some medications come in topical ointment form. However, these drugs are not as effective as those in pill form and they provide very little benefit to the patient.
Administering Herpes Drugs
If you are suffering from genital herpes or HSV-2 and the disease is manifesting itself as sores, you need to go through a week or more of antiviral therapy to contain the virus and prevent symptoms from getting worse. Your doctor may keep you on antiviral therapy for longer if the sores do not heal within a week. After the initial treatment, you and your doctor will develop the best way to take antiviral therapies.
If you are suffering from flare-ups then you will need intermittent therapy. Your doctor will provide drugs you can keep on hand in case of a flare-up. As soon as you noticed sores or you feel an outbreak coming on, you will take the drugs for two to five days. The drugs will heal the sores and make the symptoms less severe.
If you suffer from flare-ups regularly, you need to take antiviral drugs every day. This treatment is called suppressive treatment. It is meant to suppress a very aggressive infection. Suppressive treatment is best for patients who experience more than 6 outbreaks per year. Through suppressive treatment, flare-ups are reduced by 70% to 80%. In some cases, the drugs inhibit outbreaks so effectively that there is no flare-up at all.