Herpes is most known as a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that attacks the genital area, causing outbreaks of oozing blisters and sores. What many people do not know is that the herpes simplex virus is very common and can also affect the face, including the lips, mouth, tongue and even eyes.
Herpes simplex is a virus that is found on the skin and when activated, can cause painful blistering. With two main types of the disease (herpes simplex I and herpes simplex II), most people do not understand that herpes simplex I is a rather common disorder and is not considered an STD (only herpes simplex II is transmitted sexually). It affects millions of people every year.
Herpes on the face can be extremely painful and very embarrassing for those who suffer with it. Causing debilitating blisters that itch, burn and scab over, herpes on the face usually affects the lips, mouth, tongue and sometimes even the eyes.
Those who have ever had a painful cold sore on the lip before probably suffers with some form of oral herpes. This is the exact strain that can cause blisters and sores on the rest of the face.
The Symptoms of Herpes on Face
Cold sores are just one sign of herpes on the face. In most cases, an outbreak begins with a red rash that appears on the face, and quickly spreads. The rash itself may look rather raw and feel hot or burning. Flu-like symptoms like a fever, chills, aches and pains and a sore neck and/or headache may also be experienced during this pre-outbreak stage. This can last several days before nay blisters appear in and around the affected area.
After a few days of these symptoms, small red bumps may appear at the outer edges of the red rash. Soon, these smaller bumps will begin to fill with a yellowish liquid and get bigger, causing actual sores and blisters. These blisters may begin to ooze liquid, ultimately breaking completely open, and then scabbing over as the skin dries up. This is when the sores become itchy.
It can take anywhere from a week to a month for the entire outbreak to clear up, depending on how the body reacts. During this time, the blisters may spread across the entire face and mouth, or just appear in a few spots. The severity of the outbreak often depends on a person’s immune response rather than the severity of the virus. Those with a healthy immune system can usually fight off the outbreak much quicker and experience a much less severe outbreak; wile those battling other health ailments may suffer with a much more serious outbreak that can last 20-40% longer.
What Herpes on the Face Affects
Herpes on the face can affect the entire head, face and mouth region including the:
Preventing the Spread the Herpes on the Face
All strains of herpes are very contagious and can be spread through skin to skin contact and saliva. While sufferers may be careful about transmission to others, it is just as important to watch out for transmitting it to the parts of your own body. For instance, scratching or picking at a blister on your mouth and then rubbing your eyes a few minutes later could result in the herpes virus getting into your eye. The same is true for other parts of your face, head and neck. Oral herpes can even be transmitted to the genital area if you are not careful.
The best way to prevent the spread of the disease is to wash your hands after touching a herpes inflamed area (even when no blisters are present yet). Actually, most people do not realize that herpes is most contagious during the red rash phase of the outbreak and not after the blisters have appeared.
Avoid touching any herpes rash, cold sore or blister and when you do, wash your hands thoroughly before touching another part of your body. Use washcloths only once before sterilizing them in the washing machine, and replace your toothbrush several times during an attack and as soon as the outbreak is over.
Kissing should also be avoided during an attack to keep the virus from spreading to others.
While herpes on the face is not a major health risk, it can be a painful condition; not to mention embarrassing. During an attack, the blisters are difficult to cover up and can look rather nasty to others. The best way to avoid recurrences is to keep your immune system healthy and avoid stress whenever possible. In most cases, patients experience 2-5 outbreaks per year; although subsequent outbreaks tend to be less severe as time goes by.