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Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2)

Effective Herpes Treatment in the San Diego Area

Dr. Melanie Palm is a nationally recognized board-certified dermatologist and expert in the treatment of the herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2) as well as other medical and cosmetic skin conditions. Dr. Palm has offices in Solana Beach, just north of San Diego, CA.

What is Herpes Simplex Virus?

Herpes simplex is the most common virus in the United States, affecting more than 20 million Americans. Herpes can appear as a blister or cluster of blisters nearly anywhere on the body, though it is most commonly seen around the mouth, nose, genitals, and buttocks.

There are two types of herpes simplex:

Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1)

This strain of the herpes virus appears most often around the mouth or on the lip (or lips) of the infected individual. Cold sores and fever blisters are caused by HSV-1. Sometimes a burning or tingling sensation will precede their appearance. The herpes lesions generally take 7-14 days to resolve and are painful. Occasionally a flu-like illness accompanies the outbreak.

This type of herpes is contracted when the virus enters the body through a break in the skin in or around the mouth. It is spread by contact with the sores or fluids of an infected person, such as through kissing and sharing items like toothbrushes and eating utensils.

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Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2)

This strain of the herpes virus is the cause of most cases of genital herpes. Sexual intercourse with an infected person is the most common way the virus is spread. Symptoms are similar to that of HSV-1 except that the herpes lesions usually appear on or around the genitals or buttocks.

How is Herpes Treated?

Although there are several treatment options, there is currently no cure for the herpes simplex virus. It is a DNA virus, meaning that once a person is infected, HSV is with them for life. The immune system is unable to clear the virus and, once the initial outbreak clears, lies dormant in the nerves and immune cells until another outbreak is triggered. Herpes outbreaks can be triggered by many things, including:
  • Stress
  • Sun exposure
  • Trauma
  • Hormonal factors
People infected with the herpes virus can often go years between outbreaks, however, the virus can still be spread even if no sores are present. Current treatment options for herpes include oral antiviral medications such as valacyclovir (Valtrex), famciclovir (Famvir) or acyclovir. These medications can reduce both duration and frequency of herpes outbreaks as well as help decrease pain and discomfort. Topical anti-inflammatory and anti-viral creams may also be used in conjunction with oral antiviral medications to help decrease the symptoms and severity of an HSV outbreak. If you are in the San Diego area and suffer with herpes simplex (HSV-1 or HSV-2), call Dr. Melanie Palm at 858.792.SKIN (7546) to schedule your appointment and discuss your treatment options.