Herpes simplex virus type 1 usually causes cold sores. Herpes simplex virus type 2 is usually responsible for genital herpes. However, either type of the virus can cause sores in the facial area or on the genitals. You get the first episode of herpes infection from another person who has an active lesion. Shared eating utensils, razors and towels, as well as kissing, may spread herpes simplex virus type 1. In addition, oral-genital contact may cause a genital form of herpes simplex virus type 1 infection. Once you've had an episode, the virus lies dormant in the nerve cells of your skin and may emerge again as an active infection at or near the original site. You may experience an itch or heightened sensitivity at the site preceding each attack. Fever, menstruation, stress, fatigue and exposure to the sun may trigger an occurrence. Cold sores are contagious. They can pass from one person to another through skin-to-skin contact. The greatest risk of infection is from the time the blisters appear until they have completely dried and crusted over. There is a possibility of spreading the virus for some time even after the skin has healed. If you have a cold sore, avoid close contact with infants, anyone who has eczema or people with a suppressed immune system, such as people with cancer, AIDS or an organ transplant. These people are at higher risk of more severe infection. Herpes simplex infection of the eye causes scarring of the cornea and is a leading cause of blindness in the United States.
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309