Herpes Skin Rash

Herpes Skin Rash

There are many skin infections caused by viruses. Herpes skin rash are the viral, disease-causing eruptions on the skin. Read further to know more about the causes, symptoms, and treatment available for this skin condition.
HealthHearty Staff
There are three different types of herpes viruses that cause skin rash in humans. They are:
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Type-1 (HSV-1) causes cold sores or fever blisters.
  • Herpes Simplex Virus Type-2 (HSV-2) causes genital herpes.
  • Herpes Zoster causes shingles.
In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms and the treatments involved. Things can get a lot more embarrassing as the virus affects the most visible part of our body; that is the skin.

Cold Sores or Fever Blisters
This infection is caused by HSV-1 and typically appears on the mouth and the face. There is no cure for cold sores. The virus is contagious, and can be transmitted from one person to another through physical contact. It can also spread through kissing, as this virus is present in the infected person's saliva. Once a person is contracted with this infection, he/she remains contagious for life.

Fever blisters are small fluid-filled sores, which usually appear inside the lips, or in and around the mouth. In the beginning, a tingling sensation is experienced, which later develops into an inflamed, open sore. The rash goes through different phases before it heals off; tingle phase, blister phase, weeping phase, crusting phase, and healing phase. This episode of cold sores lasts for 9-12 days.

Although there is no cure for cold sores, certain numbing agents like phenol, benzocaine, lidocaine, camphor, and benzyl alcohol controls burning, itching, and pain caused by fever blisters. Some of the antiviral compounds, which are known to treat cold sores are zinc, lysine, phenol, and tannic acid. Moisturizing agents, like lip balms and petroleum jelly moisturize the blisters, and prevent them from bleeding. Anti-viral drugs, like, acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir inhibits the reproduction of the virus and thus, relieves pain and controls the severity of the sores. Herbs like sage and tea tree oil works well in relieving pain and soothing the blister. Aloe vera and honey are also effective in treating the blisters.

Genital Herpes
HSV-2 causes genital herpes. This strain of herpes is also contagious, and can spread through sexual contact with the infected person. The virus is present in genital secretions and the saliva.

The symptoms may vary from person to person. In many people, the symptoms could be mild, and can be mistaken for mosquito bites. Some people are devoid of any physical symptoms, but they could be the carrier of the virus, thereby infecting other people. The first signs and symptoms are generally noticed within 2 weeks of being infected. The first outbreak is severely painful. Symptoms are very much similar to that of fever blisters. In women, small painful blisters appear on the thighs, buttocks, outer vaginal lips, vagina, around the anus and cervix. In men, the appearance of the blisters is usually on the penis, scrotum, thighs, around the anus, and buttocks. Other symptoms include fever, malaise, decreased appetite, painful urination.

The second outbreak is mild and less painful than the first one, and usually occurs within weeks or months after the first outbreak. The virus lies in dormant state in the nerve cell for a long time. In immunocompromised individuals the virus is reactivated and causes infection. Some of the factors that can trigger the infection are emotional stress, fatigue, menstruation, and trauma.

Similar to fever blisters, there is no complete cure for genital herpes. Antiviral medications like acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are able to treat genital herpes by relieving pain and discomfort from the rash, and reducing the duration of the outbreak, if applied as soon as itching, tingling, or burning sensation begins. As these medicines inhibit the virus from multiplying, they are known to also decrease the frequency and severity of recurrent outbreaks. Avoid wearing nylon inner wears, instead prefer loose-fitting cotton garments. The rash needs to be kept clean to avoid secondary infection. Sexual abstinence is strongly recommended to combat the spread of disease.

The medical term for shingles is Herpes zoster. Though the virus that causes shingles belongs to the Herpes family, it is not the same as the herpes virus that cause genital herpes or fever blisters. Chickenpox in children is caused by a virus known as Varicella zoster. Once this infection subsides, the virus remains dormant in the nerve cells. This virus can transform itself later in life to cause shingles, which is commonly referred to as a skin rash. Shingles usually occur in people above 60 years of age. It can spread from an infected individual to children and adults, who have not been infected with chickenpox. Once infected, the individual develops the symptoms of chickenpox and not shingles.

Much before the rash appears, the infected area starts to burn, itch, and tingle. The rash starts as small bumps or blisters, which keep on increasing, making a formation, which is very similar to a belt or a band. Once the blister is formed, it oozes, forms a crust and eventually heals off. The outbreak lasts for three to four weeks.

Common antiviral oral medicines, like, acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir are recommended to reduce the length and severity of the rash. Antihistamines and topical ointments like calamine lotion helps in reducing the itching sensation. An aluminum acetate solution can be applied to the rash to dry up the blisters. If the pain is intense, pain medication can also be taken. Cold water compresses can be used to soothe and dry up the weeping blisters. The infected area should always be kept clean. Avoid touching the blisters to prevent it from spreading.

Natural cure is a well-researched topic and people have appreciated the use of herbs and other natural substances in curing herpes. The herpes skin rashes are very painful, and need immediate medical attention. With the help of antiviral medications and maintaining a certain level of personal hygiene, it can be controlled. Though vaccines against herpes are still in the experimental stage, the treatment options available are definitely effective in controlling the symptoms of an outbreak. It is highly recommended to consult your doctor before administering any of the medicines to treat skin infections.