Herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes a skin condition known as herpes. How does herpes look? This virus causes the development of sores all over the body, most commonly the mouth, genitalia, and the rectum. Finding out how these sores look like may help you to diagnose herpes in time.
Read on and you will find the description of its appearance, but also thorough information about HSV, its symptoms, causes, and treatment.
What Is Herpes?
Herpes is a skin infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. This infection spreads via contact with an infected person. The area of contact can be the eyes, the mouth, or the genitals. The contact can be direct if you touch the lesions of the infected person, or through secretion. In either case, you can get infected, so try to avoid physical contact with someone who has herpes.
Once a person is infected, no matter if the infection is visible on the skin or not, the virus can remain dormant in the local sensory nerves for an indefinite period of time. It stays hidden until a herpes infection appears, but even if you recover in full, the virus will stay in your body.
Herpes can reactivate after several weeks, but also after several years. This happens when HSV shows up like a blister or a rash on the skin, which is supplied by the previously mentioned sensory nerve.
There are two types of herpes simplex virus:
Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is the prevalent form of HSV. Because it is constantly present in all areas of the world, the medical community deemed it as an endemic disease. Endemic diseases are tied to a geographical region and their communities.
HSV 1 most commonly causes oral herpes, with the majority of HSV 1 infections affecting areas around the mouth and the mouth itself. Besides causing oral infections, HSV can infect other body parts, including the genitalia.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 is a condition which carries on for the rest of the life of the infected. The majority of people get it during childhood, and then it stays dormant. It spreads by touch or secretion, mostly through saliva when you kiss a person who has the virus.
Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2
Herpes simplex virus type 2 is less common. It usually causes genital herpes, so the areas affected are most commonly the genitals and the area around the anus. Like HSV 1, it is a condition that lasts a lifetime. When the infection reappears, the symptoms will follow, though some infections can go symptomless, too.
However, the difference between the two types of herpes simplex virus is in its transmission. HSV 2 is a sexually transmitted infection, which means you can only contract it through sexual contact.
How Does Herpes Look and What Are Its Symptoms?
The first time you become infected, you probably won’t even notice it. Sometimes there are no symptoms at all, other times you can notice skin redness, and in worst case scenarios, it can make a person very ill. The latter can cause a fever, as well as blisters on the lips, inside the mouth, or some other part of the skin. The blisters will crust over and heal soon, but in the meantime, they might feel sore and cause a burning sensation.
Below you can find the descriptions of how does herpes look depending on the part of the body that gets affected.
The most commonly affected area of infection in oral herpes is the mouth. It causes blisters to appear anywhere on your face, lips, and inside of the mouth for the most part. Also, this includes the area surrounding the chin and under the nose.
When they first appear, the sores may remind you of pimples, but remember that pimples have a white or black head. The sores caused by herpes can be white, yellow, or red. When they burst, a yellow liquid comes out. After that, there is a yellow crust on the blister which should soon heal.
Genital herpes in males causes them to potentially develop sores on the penis and the area around it. At first, tiny pimples which can be white or red grow into big sores which are filled with fluid. At this stage, they can be yellow as well. In the end, the sores burst and crust over.
Genital herpes in females causes possible development of sores inside the vagina, or outside, on the vulva. The sores developed inside are harder to discover. Genital sores look like fluid-filled blisters, which burst, crust over, and ultimately heal.
This infection is more difficult for females and makes it more likely for them to have problems when urinating because it can cause a burning sensation.
Other Body Parts
Genital herpes can cause sores to appear in the anal area for both females and males who are infected. This can also lead to red, open wounds in this area.
Herpetic whitlow commonly infects thumb-sucking children. Herpes spreads to the fingers, where blisters develop usually next to the fingernails or on the nail bed.
Herpes keratitis is a herpes infection of the eye. One or both eyes can be affected, and the symptoms can include secretion from the eye, light sensitivity, and eye soreness. If you suspect that you are infected by this type of herpes, visit your medical practitioner right away because it can cause serious damage if left untreated.
Final Advice for Treating HSV
Although it is pesky, ugly-looking, and sometimes painful, herpes is not a serious skin condition. You will often experience no symptoms after being infected. Unfortunately, there is no cure for the herpes simplex virus.
Breakouts will occur once in a while if you contracted the virus, but the blisters and the sores will sort themselves out on their own. Some antiviral medicine can speed up the process, for example, valacyclovir, famciclovir, and acyclovir. They come in the form of pills and creams and are available for purchase over-the-counter (OTC).