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I. Definition:

Herpes simplex is commonly referred to as cold sores or fever blisters. It is a viral infection of the skin that may occur once or return again and again. This is because when the virus is cleared from the skin by the immune system it hides in the nerves and is never completely removed from the body. Cold sore infections are very common. It is estimated that nine out of ten people have been exposed to herpes. Many people are infected and don't even know it. Unfortunately those who carry herpes can spread the disease without even knowing it.

Herpes simplex begins as a group of small red bumps that blister. Sometimes this is preceded by itching and burning of the area. The blisters begin to dry up after a few days and form a yellow crust. The crust then falls off and the redness slowly goes away. The whole process takes about 10-14 days. Scars rarely form. Some people experience just some itching or burning in the area while most people have no symptoms at all.

II. Herpes Causes:

There are two kinds of herpes virus, type 1 and type 2. Type 1 virus causes 60% of the cold sores so common on the lips and face. The other 40% of cases are caused by type 2. On the genitalia these percentages are reversed, that is 40% of genital herpes cases are caused by type 1 and 60% of cases are caused by type 2.

Herpessimplex is transmitted by sexual contact, kissing, or other close contact. Family members should not share towels or linen with someone who has an outbreak of herpes on the genitalia or cold sores. Herpes can spread from person to person even when an infected individual has no outbreak or symptoms.

Once you have herpes simplex type 1, you cannot be reinfected with the type 1 virus. You can however be infected with the type 2 virus.

Fever, sun exposure and menstruation can act as trigger factors, which cause the virus to travel down the nerves to the skin and cause the outbreak known as herpes or cold sores.
Herpes simplex is caused by the herpes hominis virus.

III. Herpes Treatment:

Tend Skin will help herpes sores heal more quickly.

A drug called acyclovir is effective in treating herpes simplex. It must be taken by mouth. There is a cream form, which is basically a waste of money because it only shortens an outbreak from 14 days to 12-13 days and it is expensive.

For the first attack of herpes simplex, acyclovir needs to be taken for 7-10 days. For recurrent attacks, acyclovir works best when taken as soon as you feel burning, or tingling in the area. Acyclovir only shortens the outbreaks - it does not prevent new outbreaks from occurring unless taken continuously. Acyclovir should not be taken if you are pregnant, unless approved by your obstetrician.

The area should be washed twice a day with a mild soap, such as Dove or Dial.

Apply Bacitracin ointment to the area once or twice a day to prevent bacterial infection.

Some authorities recommend using L-Lysine 500 mg (an amino acid) found in the vitamin section at the drugstore. As soon as you feel burning or tingling in the area, take 3-4 tablets a day for the first 2 days and then 2 tablets a day until the blisters dry up. Also apply Herpecin-L to the blister every half hour for the first few days. This treatment can reduce healing time from 14 days to about 7 days. These products are available at most drugstores. Make sure you have food in your stomach when taking this amino acid tablet. Taking one tablet daily of L-Lysine has been known to prevent fever blisters in some people.

Whether you have oral herpes or genital herpes you can spread the disease to others, even when you do not have symptoms. Herpes can spread from the mouth or other infected area to any area of close contact on another individual. If you have a herpes infection you should alert anyone with whom you are going to have close contact. In some states this is the law. Many people are spreading herpes because they do not know they have the disease and there is no law against this form of spread. Chances are you contracted your herpes infection from someone who does not even know they have the disease.

For more information call the herpes hotline at 800-230-6039.

IV. Treatments Received by E-Mail from Patients:

  • When you feel the itching and/or burning, start taking an antacid such as Maalox or Mylanta by mouth regulary. If you don't catch the blistering in time, break all blisters when they form, and apply the antacid directly to the affected area. Keep the affected area dry and apply rubbing alcohol to the area after showers or exposure to moisture. Continue this regimen until the area is cleared up (usually within one week).
  • I have found that using the oil in a Vitamin E softgel cap will dry the sores up within 5-7 days. You will need to insert a clean sharp pin into the softgel cap 3-4 times and squeeze the oil out and apply to the infected area. Thought I would pass it along. Works great on my children when they experience cold sores after running a high fever.
  • I have found if you take a cotton ball saturated with Listerine and hold it on your blisters it will take them away. You may have to hold the cotton ball on the cold sores for awhile. This treatment will sting.
  • Boron 3 mg per day can prevent herpes flare-ups. Boron is available at health food stores.

23 Things To Do While Recovering From Your Surgery


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