Misconceptions About Herpes

With the onset of colds of people with characteristic eruptions on the lips appears more and more. It would seem that this is a common and not at all a mysterious disease, but the average patient does not know anything about herpes - unless "it's such a fever on the lips." The more educated (as well as the victims) will remember that there is still some kind of "genital" herpes, but that's what it has to do with "colds" and whether it has any - not everyone will answer. But for many centuries of "communication" with herpes this disease has acquired a lot of speculation and delusions. Let's try to understand the most common of them.

Misconception 1. Herpes is not contagious

To the contrary. Herpes is transmitted by airborne (with coughing, sneezing, talking), contact (when kissing, using common utensils, lipstick, mouthpiece) and sexually. It is also possible to infect the child from the mother while passing through the birth canal. Typically, this happens if the mother has contracted genital herpes in the third trimester of pregnancy. At the same time, her body does not have time to develop antibodies, which she passes on to the child. And if there are damages of the placenta, the child can get infected in any period of intrauterine development - such herpes is called congenital.

The herpesvirus family is not limited to herpes simplex viruses. For example, the third type of herpes virus, also known as Varicella-Zoster, causes all known varicella, or "chickenpox" in children, and shingles in adults. The fourth type, the Epstein-Barr virus, is the causative agent of infectious mononucleosis, which affects the oropharynx, lymph nodes, liver and blood, and sometimes leads to malignant neoplasms. The fifth type - cytomegalovirus - usually manifests itself in severe immunodeficiency states, affecting a lot of organs at once. The remaining types of herpesviruses play a role in the development of the syndrome of chronic fatigue and some malignant tumors.

Misconception 2. Herpes is a manifestation of a "cold"

In fact, herpes is an independent disease caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Usually, it is activated by hypothermia, but it can also occur with stress, fatigue, exacerbation of chronic diseases or any decrease in overall immunity.

Misconception 3. If there were eruptions on the lips, the cold started to wane

A common point of view, however, has nothing to do with reality. In fact, rashes mean that the transferred respiratory infection has weakened immunity, and this has given the herpes virus an opportunity to actively act.

Misconception 4. If the rash has passed - herpes is cured

It would be very cool, but, unfortunately, it is impossible to remove the virus from the body. He remains with a man for life, and you can only make him stay in a "sleeping" state, not manifesting himself in any way. Therefore, 95% of people have herpes virus, most of them acquire it at the age of 3-4 years, but only about 20% of people feel its "work".

Misconception 5. Infect herpes only if there are rashes

Indeed, in the active phase of the disease, more virus particles are released and the probability of infection is higher. But the transmission of infection can occur at any time through invisible microtrauma of the skin and mucous membranes.

Misconception 6. Herpes on the lips (labial) and on the genitals (genital) are two completely different diseases, with oral sex, infection does not occur.

This statement is only partly true. Indeed, the labial herpes is more often caused by the first type of herpes simplex virus (HSV-1), and the genital herpes is the second (HSV-2). However, both types of the virus can lead to rashes on the lips and on the genitals. Especially often such a change of "place of residence" occurs just with oral sex.

Misconception 7. Condom completely protects from infection with genital herpes

The condom really reduces the risk of infection, but it does not give one hundred percent guarantee. Transmission of the virus can occur through areas of the body that are not covered by a condom, or through certain defects of a "rubber friend" (for example, substandard or excessively porous).

Misconception 8. The best treatment is cauterization of sores with alcohol or iodine.

Cautions do not affect the herpes virus and its activity, but it's very easy to burn damaged skin and mucous membranes in this way. It is better to grease the rashes neatly with an antiseptic that does not contain alcohol, so that a purulent infection does not join. And the exacerbation of herpes is treated with special antiviral drugs, for example, acyclovir, which prevents the reproduction of the virus. With frequent exacerbations, drugs that stimulate immunity are used, and fortifying agents.

Misconception 9. Herpes is a non-dangerous disease, and affects only the skin

In fact, herpes takes the second place in mortality from viral infections, second only to ARI, led by the flu. Herpes simplex virus is built into the genome of nerve cells, so rashes occur in the places of nerve endings and are accompanied by severe pain. Theoretically, herpes can appear everywhere, where there is a nervous tissue, which means - practically in any organ. With a decrease in general and local immunity, herpetic inflammation can develop in the mucous membrane of the mouth and larynx, cornea and eye conjunctiva, lymph nodes, internal genitalia, intestines, liver, kidneys, lungs and central nervous system. With the defeat of the brain, the vast majority of patients die or remain disabled. In addition, with congenital herpes, multiple malformations and death of a newborn are possible, and long-term genital herpes significantly increases the risk of developing cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

"But there is a nuance ..."

It is interesting that such harmful properties of herpesviruses as easy penetration into the body, constant stay in it, and large sizes of viral DNA, give hope to use them "for peaceful purposes". It is this family of microbes that is considered promising for gene therapy. For which they are deprived of pathogenic abilities and inserted into the viral genome useful genes. And the virus perfectly delivers these genes to the DNA of the patient, where they help to synthesize the missing substances and even fight other viruses. How to know, may be around the corner when the herpes will be treated ... herpes virus.

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