Herpes simplex

Herpes simplex is in most cases harmless but an unpleasant disease caused by an infection with the herpes-simplex-virus (HSV)  

Allmost 90 % of a population has had contact with the virus during life.

For requesting an appointment please contact Prof. Okamoto (private praxis) by phone +43 676 967 4013 or +43 1 40114/5701, email at ordination@hautarztokamoto.at or by using the online-contact form.

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Information about herpes by dermatologist Dr. Okamoto in Vienna

Characteristic symptoms of herpes

Fieberblasen Behandlung in Wien bei Hautarzt Dr. Okamoto

The incubation period (the time between infection and the appearance of the first symptoms) takes usually between 3 to 9 days (up to 6 weeks in some cases). However, the initial infection occure unnoticed, so that many people do not know whether they have had contact to the virus or not. Herpes, the symptoms after infection is characteristic: it starts with prodromal phase with tingling symptoms. Within 24 to 48 hours, small grouped blisters appear on that spot. After a few days, these blisters break and leave small ulcers. Sometimes, herpes is accompanied by systemic symptoms such as swelling of the neighboring lymph nodes, fatigue, and even fever. Usually, herpes resolves within  7 to 10 days. While herpes is a transient condition in otherwise healthy individuals, in severely immunocompromised patients, herpes can spread and lead to severe consequences. Herpes can occur everywhere on the body and is not limited to the lips or genital area.

Causes and triggers of herpes

As described above, the cause for herpes is an infection with the herpes-simplex-virus (HSV), which is very common: around 90% of the population is infected.

However, not everybody who had contact with the HSV develops herpes. Why someone develops herpes and others don’t is not entirely understood, but the risk seems to depend on the immune system and the age of the affected. Younger individuals are more prone to develop herpes while elderly people are less affected. Besides, other factors such as general health condition, other diseases (infectious, malignant, etc.), medication and physical factors such as ultraviolett radiation play a role.

There are 2 types of HSV: Type 1 und Type 2. HSV 1 is more frequent than HSV 2 and both types are infected by direct contact.  HSV Type 2 is characteristic for genital herpes, even though neither types are limited to certain anatomic location.

Mechanismus

HSV penetrates the skin and enters neurons in which it reaches the ganglion where it remains latent. Under certain conditions or influence of triggers HSV becomes active.

Here are the most common triggers of herpes:

  • “stress” (emotional as well as physical)
  • illnesses such as cold
  • dental treatment
  • UV-exposure, particularly sun burn
  • immunosuppression due to diseases or medical treatment
  • hormonal causes (menstruation, pregnancy, etc.)

Therapy of herpes

There are both topical (cremes) as well as systemic therapies (oral, i.v. infusions) agains herpes. One should start with the treatment already at the very first sign of herpes (prodromal phase or with the first blister). Herpes are prone to relapses. Unfortunately, HSV cannot be entirely eliminated from the body. Also, be aware of the infectious potential while blistering (e.g. avoid direct contact to the affected area).

More information about herpes by dermatologist Dr. Okamoto

Univ. Prof. Dr. Okamoto, expert for skin diseases in Vienna, explains as a dermatologist 9 myths about herpes.

Contact Prof. Dr. Okamoto

For appointments, please contact us by phone +43 676 967 4013 or +43 1 40114/5701, 5702 or 5703, or via E-Mail at ordination@hautarztokamoto.at or contact form.

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