Herpes Infections

The word herpes is derived from Greek language- herpein- meaning a creeping plant or reptile. Herpes is a common medical disorder and there is still some mystery surrounding this infection. Some individuals find the disorder as shameful, embarrassing, others find it creepy and yet others think of it in only sexual terms.

Irrespective of what one thinks about herpes, the infection is mostly known for it's painful blisters and recurrence. The herpes virus once acquired, never leaves the body. Herpes is forever.

Besides causing painful blisters, some unlucky individual do develop recurrences. The recurrences may be as often as once a month to once a year. The herpetic sores are not only painful but have an ugly cosmetic appearance.

There are a variety of herpes viruses including the one that causes chicken pox, shingles and mononucleosis. The herpes simplex variety has two different subtypes: Type I and Type II viruses: Type I has traditionally been associated with oral sores (cold sores, fever blisters) while Type II virus has been associated with genital herpes, which is sexually acquired.

Type 1 Herpes simplex is a very common, contagious virus infection. The virus generally causes an infection near the mouth area. It may cause blisters both inside and outside the mouth. The infection may involve the lips, gums and mouth area and sometimes even the eye.

Often the herpes simplex lesions on the mouth are known as fever blisters or cold sores. The lesions are small blister like lesions and contain fluid.

Sometimes, the herpes infection may occur in the presence of a skin wound. These sores are typically painful and prevent the wound from healing

Worldwide herpes is extremely common. Millions are exposed to the herpes virus but less than 10% actually develop the painful sores.


Herpes infections are typically classified as primary or recurrent. The initial infection by the herpes virus is termed primary is usually acquired during childhood.

In some individuals, there may be only episode of infection (primary) and the herpes virus just disappears. For some unlucky individuals, the virus keeps on reactivating itself and causes repeat infections (secondary). After the first infection, the virus never disappears from the body. One of the oddities about herpes virus is that the organism has a great affinity for nervous tissue- and this is where it resides (latent or goes to sleep).

The secondary infections occur when the virus is reactivated from its dormant state and causes the infection. Why and what makes the virus active again is a mystery but some factors are known to trigger its reactivation. These include stress both physical and emotional, excessive exposure to sun, major illness, colds, fevers and a lot of bad luck.

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