Who Has Herpes?
If you have ever suffered from a Fever Blister or Cold Sore then you have Herpes and are far from alone. It is estimated that over 85% of the worlds population has been infected with Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1, which usually manifests itself in a Fever Blister on the upper or lower lip. Every year in the United States some 25 million people have an outbreak of herpes. Over five million will develop genital herpes which is the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2. The sores can also appear inside the mouth, on the tongue or around your nose or even your eyes.
How Did We Get It?
Most of us that have the virus contracted it in our childhood between the ages of six months and three years, from a parent. The first episode of Herpes is called the “Primary”. The virus can then lay dormant in remission, sometimes for years, in our nerve cells. When triggered, it will reappear usually in the same place or very near. The “Primary” episode is usually the most severe because the body has not yet developed any defense (antibodies) against the virus. The “Primary” outbreak can be accompanied by a fever, aches and pains, swollen glands, difficulty swallowing and larger sores which take longer to heal, up to six weeks. Secondary outbreaks are usually not near as severe.
It is very important that you are aware of the virus’s ability to spread on contact or via saliva. This is particularly so during the “Primary” episode as you can spread it to other areas of your own body which have not yet built up antibodies. The most vulnerable areas are those that are moist, such as your nose, eyes or genitals. And yes, you can transfer Type 1 Herpes to your Genitals.
Keep your hands washed with warm water and soap. Avoid touching the fever blister directly. If you are treating your child, keep their hands covered with a pair of socks to prevent them from scratching at it and moving it to some other part of their body during the “Primary” episode.
Even though you have developed antibodies after the “Primary” outbreak and future episodes will not be as severe, you should still take precautions to reduce the chance of transmitting the virus to other parts of your body and to others.
Herpes is in the same viral family as Chickenpox and can leave scares in severe outbreaks. Some people are more susceptible to the virus than others and outbreaks can vary in intensity.
According to reports by the Center for Disease Control, people with the HSV virus are two to three times more likely to develop the HIV virus which causes AIDS.
Having a fever blister on your lip is bad, your nose worse but you can’t imagine what having this virus in or around your eye, called ocular herpes, can be like. Ocular herpes is very difficult to treat and can result in corneal scarring and transplantation to restore vision in severe cases. Not something to take lightly, I assure you.
Although there are some known triggers for herpes for some people, they really don’t understand the virus enough yet to know what actually causes the outbreak.
Certainly for some, direct sunlight will cause an outbreak. The use of sunscreens and blocks, particularly on the lips or face where breakouts have happened in the past helps those so afflicted.
It appears that any strain on the immune system from colds or the flu make many vulnerable to breakouts. Those suffering from AIDS or other immune system problems are more than likely to develop herpes.
For others stress is the trigger. The bottom line is that medical research has yet to pinpoint the exact cause and it depends on the individual in most cases. As more research, in the effort to develop a vaccine is made, they could discover the cause on a genetic or cellular level and finally with a vaccine, deal better with herpes treatment.
Cures and Treatments
Although there is no “known cure” for herpes at present, there are treatments available that are known to reduce flare ups and promote faster healing. Several drug companies are presently working on a vaccination for herpes, but it could be years before they are approved by the FDA and they are preventative in nature, not cures for existing infections. There are several agents that are actually known to kill the virus “in vitro” (in a petri dish or test tube) that are available to the general public. I will discuss those later in this article.
The FDA at present has approved four different prescription medications for the treatment of herpes. They are:
- Zovirax Ointment
- Zovirax Injection
None of the above prescription medications cures herpes. They treat the symptoms, help reduce outbreaks and quicken the healing time in various ways and by different means. You need to check with your Doctor before taking the above medications and be aware that some are not approved for children, pregnant women, those intending to become pregnant or those already breast feeding.
As with all prescription medications there can be side effects. Famvir lists potential side effects of;
- Confused or Disorientated
- And add – Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know the effects of this medication.
Aside from those potential side effects they further list;
- Diarrhea or Loose Stools
- Stomach Pain
- Painful Menstrual Periods
Last but not least they tell you to call your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Tingling in the Hands or Feet
The other prescription medications list similar side effects. My point in bringing this up is that it appears to me that unless your herpes outbreaks are severe, the prescription medications that are available could end up being worse than the disease its self.
Over the Counter
There are many over the counter ointments available which treat fever blisters. Most involve using a combination of drying agents mixed with soothing base to reduce pain.
The only OTC product approved by the FDA to shorten healing time (to my knowledge) is called Abreva. The active ingredient in Abreva is “Docosanol” which is also known as “behenyl alcohol”. Think of it as a saturated fatty alcohol. The presumed action of Docosanol is inhibiting the replication of the herpes virus, but it has neither been observed nor proven to accomplish that. Consumer reviews are mixed on Abreva, some swearing by it and others disappointed in it’s ability to heal quickly. Some find the cost to be high even though effective.
Another popular over the counter remedy is Lip Clear Lysine+. It is for the pain of fever blisters and relieves the itching, soothes and goes on clear. The active ingredient is Zinc Oxide which is used in many different lotions and creams for medical purposes. They include calamine lotion, baby powder, sunscreens and anti-dandruff shampoos. Consumer reviews are mixed on this product but better than those for Abreva which costs two to three times as much.
Specialty Products for Treatment
There are several products designed just for the treatment of fever blisters and genital herpes that are marketed directly from the manufacturers. These companies have combined some of the known ingredients that are effective against the herpes virus into their version of the best treatment.
One of the most effective of these products is Herpaflor. They have combined seventeen ingredients that are known to be beneficial in the treatment of fever blisters as well as genital herpes. Both types HSV -1 and HSV – 2. Several of the ingredients are known to actually kill the Herpes Simplex Virus in vitro and should therefore help prevent the spreading of the virus. They have three products. Outbreak Response Topical to be applied directly at the first signs of an outbreak. Outbreak Response Tablets to be taken at the first sign such as itching or tingling. Their final entrée is Herpaflor Daily to reduce future outbreaks and their severity. The benefits of Herpaflor are that it is designed to threat both HSV-1 and HSV-2. It will sooth the pain, reduce inflammation and speed the healing thus reducing any chance of scarring. More importantly, it will reduce the recurrences of outbreaks.
Consumer reviews for Herpaflor range from very good to excellent. The only negative feedback seems to be the time it takes to get by mail and the cost. Although less than the prescription medications, it is more costly that OTC medications. But if you are like me, you are paying for the results. Something that is half as expensive does me little good if it isn’t effective.
The positive aspects of Herpaflor are that it works, is all natural so you don’t have to be concerned about side effects and it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If your are not tickled pink with the results just return it for a full refund. That’s hard to beat.
Fever blisters and genital herpes, is a virus that should not be taken lightly. Although millions of people from around the world carry the virus contracted innocently, it is still looked down upon as an STD. For health and personal appearance’s reasons it is to your advantage to find a product that works for you. Both to prevent the transmission of the virus and to prevent further complications. I personally have had excellent results with the Herpaflor Topical and Tablet response products and have not only reduced the outbreaks to near non existent but the last time I did have an episode, I caught it early and it never bloomed.