Labial herpes (herpes on the lips, herpes simplex) is a disease that is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1. There are 8 types of herpes viruses, but type 1 is most often to blame for what is called a cold sore on the lips.
How does the virus get infected?
The virus can be infected in different ways: airborne, contact (through shared towels, cutlery, through kissing), sexually, self-[removed]when the virus enters healthy mucous membranes from the ulcers and infects them). You can become infected through blood transfusion and the child can get the virus from the mother in utero. The incubation period (from the moment of contact until the first signs appear) is 2-14 days. A person becomes infectious as soon as sores appear on the lip, and is infectious to others until the crusts fall off …
Where is the virus hiding?
If a person becomes infected once, then herpes will remain with him for life. The virus enters the body through cracks in the skin of the lips. Then it passes into the cells of our body and multiplies, releasing more and more viruses that destroy cells. This is how the exacerbation proceeds with bubbles. And then the virus does not disappear anywhere. It enters the nerve endings and is stored there until the next exacerbation.
Why does a cold appear on the lips?
Those who have herpes have noticed that exacerbations begin with ARVI. Herpes occurs with a decrease in immunity, the defenses of which are used to suppress ARVI. Another cold on the lips appears when the body’s defenses have weakened: with chronic fatigue, lack of sleep, frequent stress, malnutrition, alcohol abuse and active smoking, in women at the beginning of pregnancy and in the first 5-7 days after childbirth.
How does herpes manifest?
In medicine, it is customary to distinguish 5 articles of the development of herpes simplex:
- The first stage occurs when bubbles appear. It is manifested by burning and itching in the lip area, its swelling.
- The second stage begins with the appearance of bubbles. At first they are small, they grow, they are filled with a transparent liquid. After a couple of days, the liquid becomes cloudy.
- The third stage of the disease is characterized by rupture of bubbles. In place of the bursting vesicles, ulcers with edema are formed. This stage is dangerous for the development of complications. The person at this moment is very contagious.
- In the fourth stage, the ulcers are covered with a dense crust.
- At the fifth stage, the crusts dry up and fall off. Symptoms go away. The person becomes not contagious.
How often can there be exacerbations?
There are three forms of the course of the disease:
• severe: 6-8 relapses per year, often accompanied by high fever, headache, weakness, vomiting, inflammation of the lymph nodes;
• moderate severity with exacerbations 3-4 times a year;
• mild form: 1-2 relapses per year.
How can herpes be dangerous?
Herpes can cause many complications. Some of them are life-threatening.
Bacterial complications. Most often, bacteria simply attach to the virus and the bubbles fill with pus. If the bubbles have already burst, then the sores become covered with pus, the pain in the lip becomes unbearable and the crust does not form.
Herpetic stomatitis is a lesion of the oral mucosa. The disease begins with a sharp rise in temperature, salivation and sharp pain when chewing food. There are many blisters in the mouth, similar to herpes on the lips.
Herpetic lesion of the eyes begins with cramps in the eyes, lacrimation. A person cannot open his eyes due to severe pain. A dangerous condition that can result in blindness.
Herpes of the esophagus. It occurs when the herpes spreads from the lips. Difficulty swallowing, severe pain, refusal to eat and weight loss.
Herpetic pneumonia and herpetic hepatitis occur in people with immunodeficiency and occur together with bacterial and fungal processes.
Herpetic damage to the nervous system occurs in the form of meningoencephalitis and is the most severe form of herpes. It begins with a sharp headache, nausea and vomiting, high fever, movement disorders and seizures. The disease is unfavorable.
How is herpes treated?
Cold sores cannot be completely and permanently cured, but relapse rates and symptoms can be reduced.
There are three groups of drugs for the treatment of herpes:
• antiviral drugs;
• inactivated vaccines.
For local forms of herpes with infrequent exacerbations, drugs with a disinfectant effect and drugs to accelerate healing are used. These include chlorhexidine lotions, allomedin gel, dexpanthenol ointment. In case of exacerbations less than once every 6 months, treatment aimed at reducing the number of viruses in the body (viral load) is not required. You just need to play sports, get enough sleep and eat well so that the immune system is strong.
If herpes appears 1 time in 3 months or more, then antiviral drugs are prescribed, the choice is given to acyclovir and valacyclovir. The drugs are used in tablets inside (5 times a day, 1 tablet for at least 5 days) and in the form of an ointment on the bubbles themselves (in a thin layer 5 times a day for 5 days, even when the manifestations of the disease disappear). There are herbal antiviral drugs such as alpizarin. Available in two forms: in the form of tablets and suppositories (for genital herpes).
Another area of herpes treatment is immunomodulators and interferon inducers.
Immunomodulators are drugs that affect and strengthen the immune system. There are herbal and synthetic preparations. Vegetable (ginseng, eleutherococcus, echinacea, lemongrass, elecampane, gave birth to pink), which have a general tonic effect. They contain a small amount of stimulating substances and therefore their only contraindication is the presence of allergies. Can be applied in courses throughout life. Synthetic in tablets and capsules (interferon, lycopid, arbidol) and injections (thymolin, thymogen, altevir, neovir) increase the body’s defenses, reduce the number and severity of exacerbations. They are used only after consulting a doctor.
Interferon inducers (cycloferon) are also used. The drug stimulates the formation of its interferon, which prevents the virus from entering the cell and reduces the risk of infecting healthy neighboring cells.
In recent years, a vaccine against herpes has been actively developed and passed preclinical trials. It contains fragments of the virus’ DNA. The vaccine will increase the interval between flare-ups of a cold sore on the lips, and in some cases, completely cure the patient of the herpes virus.
There are many effective methods of treating herpes symptoms, reducing and severity of the frequency of exacerbations, but only a doctor can choose the correct and effective treatment.