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What is herpes?

Herpes is the name of a family of viruses. Herpes viruses cause many infections and diseases in many people, with or without HIV. These viruses almost always cause rashes on the outer surface of the body: cold sores, blisters (small blisters), pains in the genitals, chicken pox and herpes zoster. Cytomegalovirus (CMV), a very serious internal infection in AIDS patients, is another type of herpes virus.

Gürtelrose (Herpes zoster) - 3d Render
Graphic Representation of Herpes Virus

What are the signs of herpes?

The main types of herpes infections and their signs are described below. If you experience any of these signs, seek medical advice immediately.

HERPES SIMPLE I: People with herpes simplex I are prone to develop herpes and blisters on the lips for a few days or a few weeks. Other symptoms may include fever, tiredness, swollen glands and muscle aches. These signs can be considerably more severe and long lasting in patients with AIDS.

HERPES SIMPLE II: In patients with herpes simplex II, it is common to have sore wounds on the genitals or anus. Before and during a herpes outbreak, patients sometimes experience flu-like symptoms. Also in this case, the symptoms can be considerably more severe and long lasting in people with HIV.

Shingles: People with herpes zoster often have painful rashes that usually develop into blisters with a liquid content. Herpes zoster is caused by the same chicken pox virus. In fact, it is a reactivation of an old chicken pox infection that occurred many years ago. Herpes zoster seizures are a result of decreased immunity in the body, as in HIV patients and in elderly or AIDS patients.

Can herpes infections be treated?

These infections can be treated, but the virus can not be eliminated

- you can only reduce your activity.

Treatment for a herpes simplex crisis I or II should be started up to six days after the first signs appear, so that it can be contained quickly.

Herpes simplex and herpes zoster are usually treated with a medicine called acyclovir, which is usually prescribed in longs or in ointment.

Can Herpes Infections Be Prevented?

Herpes simplex infections usually become less intense each time they come back, and over time they may disappear spontaneously. Consult your doctor to find out if you need preventive treatment.
Both herpes simplex I and II spread easily when there are wounds.

The doctor talking about shingles

Patient receiving the very bad news of herpes zoster

But they occasionally develop in people who do not have symptoms but are carriers of the virus. People contract herpes through intimate physical contacts such as kissing and intercourse. Herpes I and II wounds can spread between the mouth and the genitals of partners during oral sex. Condoms reduce the chances of transmission during sex. To prevent herpes infections from spreading to other parts of your body, do not scratch or irritate the blisters and see your doctor as soon as you notice a rash.

Many people believe that herpes simplex crises are related to emotional stress. Practicing stress reduction techniques such as meditation or yoga as well as learning skills to better deal with problems can help prevent the reactivation of old herpes infections.

If you have never had chicken pox, you should avoid contact with anyone who has herpes zoster. There is a vaccine for chicken pox, but it has not yet been used on a large scale.

Ask your doctor about the following medicines, vitamins and minerals for the treatment or prevention of herpes infections:

  • Aciclovir is available in tablets, ointment and injectable solutions; the side effects are rare and are restricted to nausea and headaches.
  • valacyclovir is an experimental version of acyclovir, which has better oral absorption. There is no in Brazil.
  • famciclovir is a version of acyclovir that has better oral absorption. There is no in Brazil.
Does HIV + PATIENT HAVE A GREATER CHANCE TO PICK UP HERPES? THERE IS HEALING?

There is no cure, as the infection may remain dormant for years and
then reactivated. Patients with HIV, because they have immunodeficiency, are more likely to have severe and widespread recurrent infections. It is not that the HIV positive patient is more likely to catch "herpes"; active genital herpes can increase the risk of sexual transmission and acquisition of HIV infection. Anogenital ulcers reduce the epithelial barrier to HIV.

Dirce Bonfim
Infectologist and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Medical Sciences -
Pedro Ernesto University Hospital

More information: "Guide to Clinical Conduct in STD / AIDS", from the National STD / AIDS Program of the Ministry of Health.

This material was published in Brazil by the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA) from the series "TREATMENT ISSUES, FACT SHEET - GMHC".

Medical Review: Dr. Rosana del Bianco, infectious disease of II Emílio Ribas de São Paulo and Dr. Dráuzio Varella.

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