Cold Sores, Herpes, Shingles. Oh My!

The Web MD reports Cold Sores affect 90% of the world. A cold sore is a Cluster of tiny blisters, usually on the lip, that burst, drain, and then crust over, and is caused by Herpes Simplex Virus I. Symptoms include fever, red, swollen, painful blister, and swollen lymph glands. Healing time usually takes place within 2 weeks. Transmission occurs through contact with a sore through kissing (saliva), sharing eating utensils, razors and tooth brushes from an infected person. There is no cure. Exposure to sunlight or wind, stress, immunocompromised, before onset of menstruation, fatigue, colds, flu, can increase the risk of an outbreak. Prevention techniques include avoid touching, sun-sunscreen, wash hands often. Cold sores can be contagious even if you don’t see them. Treatment options are limited as they can heal on their own, but antivirals can speed up their healing, and NSAID’s can be taken for pain. Seek med care if you have a weak immune system, sore that doesn’t heal within 2 weeks, increased frequency of cold sores, and irritation to eyes.

Genital Herpes is a common STD caused by Genital Herpes II. The Mayo clinic reports they appear as small, red bumps or tiny white blisters that are painful, itch, or sore or you may not have any symptoms. After the first infection, the virus becomes dormant, but can reactivate at any time. There is no cure. Antiviral medication can decrease the symptoms and speed recovery. To prevent transmission from your infection use condoms. Risk factors include having multiple partners, or another STD’s. Genital herpes causes increase risk of transmission to newborns, bladder problems, meningitis, and rectal inflammation. There are three ways to diagnose. One is having your doctor perform a viral culture of the sore itself. Second is having a test called a PCR, which tells you the type of herpes you are infected with. Finally, a blood test can tell you if you have had genital herpes in the past. Treatment includes a prescription for an antiviral medication such as Acyclovir, Famciclovir, Valacyclovir. Pregnant women should discuss a C-section to prevent infection to newborn.

Shingles is a viral infection that results in a painful rash, caused by Varicella Zoster or Herpes Zoster Virus. It is the same virus that causes the Chicken Pox. The virus lies inactive in nerve tissue near your spinal cord and brain. When it reactivates it does so in the form of shingles. Shingles can last 2-6 weeks. Symptoms include pain, burning, numbness, and tingling, sensitivity then red rash, fluid filled blisters that open and drain a clear liquid and then crust over. Other complaints noted are fever, headache, sensitivity to light, and fatigue. Shingles can spread if person has never had the chicken pox and had direct contact with the sore. Shingles is dangerous to those with weak immune system, newborns, pregnant, over 50, HIV, cancer, and organ transplant. Complications are post herpetic neuralgia- damaged nerve fibers, well after blisters have cleared. Vision can be affected if shingles develops in the eye. Brain, facial paralysis, hearing, balance can cause neurological imbalance. Bacterial infections can occur when shingles appears on the skin.
Treatment includes antiviral medication, pain medication, such as capsaicin cream, gabapentin, lidocaine gel or cream, or narcotics.

The CDC reports the Shingles Vaccine reduces shingles 51%, and reduces post herpetic neuroglia by 67%. They
Recommend the vaccine if you are over 60 with or without history of chicken pox to prevent future occurrences. The vaccine protects for 5 years. FDA has approved the vaccine for over 50, but insurances may not cover. Avoid the
vaccine if you are allergic to gelatin, neomycin, weak immune system, or are pregnant. This is a live vaccine.

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