Herpes Side Effects

Herpes positive
Herpes blood test positive (Image: jarun011/iStock/Getty Images)

Herpes simplex virus is the causative agent for herpes infections. Oral herpes is caused by the herpes simplex type 1 virus while genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex type 2 virus. The herpes virus is highly infectious and is capable of reproducing in many different types of cells. Sides effects commonly associated with a herpes infection include swollen lymph nodes and oral or genital blisters.

Genital Blisters

Herpes simplex virus type 2 is transmitted sexually and, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, infection with HSV type 2 results in sores around the rectum, penis, vagina or cervix. The first outbreak of blisters around the genital area occurs within two weeks of the initial infection. The blisters break open, leaving behind ulcers or sores that take up to two to four weeks to heal. After the initial outbreak of genital blisters, individuals infected with HSV type 2 are afflicted with several more outbreaks of genital blisters although the severity, duration and frequency decreases significantly with time.

Oral Blisters

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, HSV type 1 infections result in small, clear, fluid-filled blisters that develop on the face. HSV type 1 infections are divided into primary and recurrent infections. Primary infections are characterized by sores that appear two to 20 days after the initial infection. The number of blisters vary amongst individuals and can last for seven to 10 days. These blisters break open resulting in the oozing of the fluid inside and the formation of a crust. The crust eventually fall off, rarely leaving a scar. The blisters or sores that develop as a result of a primary infection only occurs in about 10 percent of individuals infected with HSV type 1. After the initial period of infection, the virus moves to neural cells where it lies dormant. The virus can be reactivated, resulting in a recurrent infection and another outbreak of blisters on the face.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

The lymphatic system is a pivotal part of the immune system, helping to recognize and destroy foreign, pathogenic organisms. The lymph nodes are essential sites in which antibodies interact with infectious agents. The lymph nodes filter fluid from the lymphatic system, trapping viruses, bacteria or any foreign infectious agents so that they can be destroyed by white blood cells produced and stored in the lymph nodes. During an infection, the lymph nodes become swollen as white blood cells increase in number to mount an appropriate attack against foreign antigens. According to Herpes Diagnosis, swollen lymph nodes in the neck are common in primary herpes infections.

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