What is Herpes and How Can I Prevent Them from Occurring?
|What is Herpes and How Can I Prevent Them from Occurring?||Darrell Miller||05/31/11|
May 31, 2011 04:07 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (email@example.com)
Subject: What is Herpes and How Can I Prevent Them from Occurring?
Herpes is a contagious infection caused by a group of viruses of the same name. It is characterized by painful sores or ulcers in the area of infections that last up to 21 days. The skin lesions heal often with a scab, though the virus remains in the human body throughout a lifetime. Severity of outbreaks is often reduced several years after the initial infection to the extent of becoming asymptomatic, albeit still infectious. To this day, there remains no cure for herpes. That being said, antiviral medications and herbal remedies that are purported to lessen the frequency of outbreaks are well received.
Types of Herpes
There are two viruses classified as herpes, and they are quite ubiquitous in human populations. Herpes simplex virus type 1 is almost always associated with what we refer to as cold sores, which are oral infections of herpes. Herpes infections are easily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact, and thus it can spread from the first area of infection to other body parts by direct contact of the lesion. The virus may infect the eyes, fingers, and even internal body surfaces such as the esophagus. Herpes simplex virus type 2 has been tied to genital herpes, but both types may infect just any body part.
Outbreaks and Latency
Viral shedding is the phase in which herpes virus successfully multiplies, exhausts the host cells of resources, and brings on painful skin lesions in the process. Cold sores, herpetic whitlow, and other forms of herpes infections take place at this phase. While the human body is incapable of removing the virus entirely, immune responses deal with herpes outbreaks like any other infections. Skin lesions heal as viral shedding stops. Herpes virus is neurotropic, hiding in nerve cells at its latent phase. It evades the immune system during latency as immune responses are limited to the blood system.
Antiviral therapy is the mainstay of treatment for herpes. Selective antiviral medications such as acyclovir have been proven safe and effective in the amelioration of outbreaks. They have even been observed to delay progression of initial infections. The use of topical applications that contain acyclovir is the most widespread treatment for labial herpes. Antiviral medications come in tablets, topical creams, intravenous injections, and ophthalmic ointments. Intravenous administrations are considered the most effective of all methods since they have poor bioavailability and exit the system readily.
Herbal remedies and nutritional supplements have grown in popularity in the past few years. Several remedies have been reported to lessen the severity of symptomatic viral shedding. Several medical practitioners believe that some components of the human diet, such as the amino acid arginine, aggravate herpes and cause outbreaks. Hence, regular intake of supplements with antiviral properties is a viable preventative measure. Supplements that purportedly prevent cold sores are red marine algae, eleuthero, echinacea, bee products, aloe vera, zinc, and the amino acid L-lysine.