Definition of herpes labialis
Herpes labialis is also called cold sore. This is the most common form of the herpes. It is caused by a virus (Herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1) and is characterized by lesions of the oral region, preceded burns. Certain circumstances (fever, stress, fatigue ...) trigger recurrence and outbreaks of cold sores because the virus, once in the body, stays there for life.
Risks and consequences of herpes labialis
The forms of cold sores affecting the mouth and face are the most common, with infection typically occurring in childhood or in young adults. Between the ages of 20 and 40 years, 40-60% of the population would infected with HSV1. The HSV1 is responsible for a significant share of herpes especially among women. One of the major risks is the primary infection, that is to say the genital HSV1 infection during pregnancy, with consequences Infectious dramatic in newborns.
Causes and mechanisms of cold sores
The development of herpes labialis requires two phases:
Herpes primary infection phase
The primary herpetic infection phase infects cells of the skin or mucosa after direct contact with lesions (vesicles) shedding of the virus; This excretion is maximum in the first hours of vesicle formation. Excretion occurs at the time of primary infection, extensive
A phase reactivation or recurrence
There are also equally contaminating asymptomatic shedding. The virus multiplies and infects other cells. It can lie dormant for many years and reactivate with more or less significant symptoms (burning, itching, lesions ...).
Two types of virus are involved, but HSV1 is most often responsible for cold sores.
Symptoms of cold sores
Primary infection is rarely spotted, symptoms occurring most often in childhood or in young adults. It occurs a few days after contact with a person carrying the virus excretory lesions. Sometimes this primary infection is symptomatic and is manifested by a lesion in the lips accompanied by fever, swollen glands (pain, diet discomfort) or flu symptoms. Symptoms, including the feeding difficulty, must be taken seriously in children because they expose to dehydration.
Recurrences or cold sore outbreaks occur during many triggers fever, sun exposure, fatigue, rules, stress ...
The cold sore then manifested by the appearance of vesicles in clusters, often preceded by localized burning or itching on the outer edge of a lip. The cold sore can also affect the nose, chin or expand in the region of the mouth.
With what he does not confuse cold sores?
Scratching damage may cause similar superinfection impetigo (contagious infection of the skin). The lesions can then expand and autoentretenir with scabs and pus.
In case of persistent injury beyond a few days (7-10 days), medical consultation (attending physician or dermatologist) is required.
Does it possible to prevent cold sores?
Initial infection with HSV1 is most often during childhood, making it difficult to prevent contamination. It is nevertheless necessary to avoid kissing someone who has a cold sore and avoid using objects in direct contact with saliva or mouth.
Once contaminated, simple measures can limit outbreaks, avoid contamination or autocontamination and reduce symptoms.
Some circumstances favor outbreaks such as fever, stress, fatigue, alcohol, sun exposure (UV) or cold.
In return period, avoid direct contact between the vesicles and others (kisses), including those at risk such as infants, pregnant women and anyone with immune deficiency or atopic dermatitis (risk of serious complication). To avoid autocontamination, do not touch the blisters, do not rub your eyes or moisten the lenses with the saliva; it must instead wash hands regularly.
Applying an ice cube on the cold sore reduces the burning sensation or itching. Furthermore, the antiviral creams available in pharmacies are to be implemented at the first symptoms before the blisters appear.
When to consult?
Herpesvirus infections may be symptom-free or discreet: only a routine screening will put in evidence.
Cold sores are common and only a serious primary infection (infants, pregnant women, immunocompromised ...) is a therapeutic emergency.
What does the doctor?
If lesions (primary infection or recurrence), the doctor can visually establish a presumptive diagnosis. When in doubt or confirm the diagnosis, a blood test and / or a sampling of blisters or lesions with a swab, used to verify the presence of the virus. This diagnosis Direct virological is recommended that in case of damage atypical or before complications.
No treatment cure herpes, but antiviral drugs (local and systemic) can accelerate the cure of a herpes outbreak in some patients. The doctor or pharmacist will judge the appropriateness of prescribing during a flare or even long-term, prevention with frequent recurrences and disabling.
How to prepare my next appointment?
Do not hesitate to prepare a list of questions to avoid forgetting the D-Day Note the number of outbreaks and contributing factors: your doctor may help you and sometimes prescribe antivirals preventively.