Herpes Information Made Simple

…..A few times a week a new case of genital herpes presents to my office, and the patient always experiences great psychological and physical pain and stress.  The classic presentatioBeautiful Woman with Pencil and Folder Isolated on White.n of HSV (herpes simplex virus) is a painful group of vesicles and ulcers.

…..The infections are classified as primary, non-primary first episode, or recurrent.  The primary infection is the most painful and may be associated with tender lymph nodes as well as a fever and body aches.  If not treated, these primary lesions can last 2 to 6 weeks.  Recurrences vary in their frequency; however, 50% of patients will have one within 6 months.  These recurrences are generally milder with fewer lesions and a much shorter course.

Herpes, Type 1 and Type 2

…..HSV is a DNA virus classified into two subtypes, 1 and 2, based on various proteins making up the virus.  HSV-1 is primarily the cause of herpes of the mouth and in the past was said to be the cause of infections above the waist.  It can also be responsible for genital infections, and these infections are becoming more common, especially among young women.

…..HSV-2 is almost always a genital infection.  The virus is spread through direct contact with mucosa (moist tissue like the vagina and lips/mouth) or damaged, irritated skin.  Incubation of the virus lasts for about a week, and the virus then reproduces in the superficial layers of the skin, causing inflammation and damage.  During the first infection, the virus enters the nerve cells and becomes dormant.  The virus can reactivate and cause ulcerative disease or shed without any symptoms.

…..Let me leave you with a few facts:

  • In the US, 20% of women have had an HSV-2 infection
  • Most infections are spread by those who are unaware of having HSV
  • Recurrent disease is more common in those with type 2, compared to those with type 1

Methods of Herpes Treatment

 …..For now we will finish our discussion of herpes.

…..During a symptomatic outbreak, the treatment consists of supportive measures such as oral and topical pain medications and special genital hygiene.  An antiviral medication can be added to decrease the viral shedding and the duration of the painful ulcers.  These medications should be started at the onset of the symptoms.

…..Acyclovir and valacyclovir are the two most common antivirals used and have a long history of safety in pregnancy.  There are some patients who experience frequent attacks, and a daily treatment of these medications can greatly suppress the episodes and therefore decrease the chance of spreading to a sexual partner.

…..In the future we will have a discussion of herpes and pregnancy, but for now I am going to get a donut.

-Dr. P

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Could You Have Lichen Sclerosus?

Business DiscussionAt the recent Female Sexuality conference I attended, much attention was spent discussing vaginal pain.  Lichen sclerosus, a long-term skin condition which mainly affects the vulva, was a condition thoroughly discussed.  I knew it was a common problem, affecting 1 in 70 women, and over my career there have been many patients who I cared for with this condition.

In women, the genital and anal areas are mostly affected but it can appear on the upper body and breasts.  Females of any age can develop lichen sclerosus, but it is most common in post-menopausal women with the median age of onset at 51.

Early in the condition, it presents as small shiny smooth white spots or depigmented areas, which can be tender and very itchy.  It is often misdiagnosed as a yeast infection, herpes, or vitiligo.  With time, the spots can progress to bigger patches, and the skin can become thick and crinkled.  The skin can tear easily as the disease progresses.  When severe scarring has developed, the lips of the vagina can shrink, the vaginal opening can become narrowed, and the clitoris may be covered with scar tissue.

Continued in: Treatment for Lichen Sclerosus

-Dr. P

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Methods of Herpes Treatment

…..I hope this finds all of my friends doing well.  For now we will finish our discussion of herpes.

…..DuSciencering a symptomatic outbreak, the treatment consists of supportive measures such as oral and topical pain medications and special genital hygiene.  An antiviral medication can be added to decrease the viral shedding and the duration of the painful ulcers.  These medications should be started at the onset of the symptoms.

…..Acyclovir and valacyclovir are the two most common antivirals used and have a long history of safety in pregnancy.  There are some patients who experience frequent attacks, and a daily treatment of these medications can greatly suppress the episodes and therefore decrease the chance of spreading to a sexual partner.

…..In the future we will have a discussion of herpes and pregnancy, but for now I am going to get a donut.

-Dr. P

http://www.dr-polcino.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DrPolcino

http://twitter.com/DrPolcino

Herpes, Type 1 and Type 2

…..The weather on Long Island continues to be perfect beach weather; I hope everyone is taking the time to enjoy the outdoors, spending wonderful times with family and friends.

…..Let’s get back to our review of the herpes simplex virus (HSV).  HSV is a DNA virus classified into two subtypes, 1 and 2, based on various proteins making up the virus.  HSV-1 is primarily the cause of herpes of the mouth and in the past was said to be the cause of infections above the waist.  It can also be responsible for genital infections, and these infections are becoming more common, especially among young women.

…..HSV-2 is almost always a genital infection.  The virus is spread through direct contact with mucosa (moist tissue like the vagina and lips/mouth) or damaged, irritated skin.  Incubation of the virus lasts for about a week, and the virus then reproduces in the superficial layers of the skin, causing inflammation and damage.  During the first infection, the virus enters the nerve cells and becomes dormant.  The virus can reactivate and cause ulcerative disease or shed without any symptoms.

…..Let me leave you with a few interesting factsH2:

  • In the US, 20% of women have had an HSV-2 infection
  • Most infections are spread by those who are unaware of having HSV
  • Recurrent disease is more common in those with type 2, compared to those with type 1

-Dr. P

http://www.dr-polcino.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DrPolcino

http://twitter.com/DrPolcino

Herpes Information Simplified

…..Welcome to my new blog!  I will try to bring you women’s health news in clear, straightforward language that hopefully will make you better informed.

…..A few times a week a new case of genital herpes presents to my office, and the patient always experiences great psychological and physical pain and stress.  The classic presentation of HSV (herpes simplex virus) is a painful group of vesicles and ulcers.

…..The infections are classified as primary, non-primary first episode, or recurrent.  The primary infection is the most painful and may be associated with tender lymph nodes as well as a fever and body aches.  If not treated, these primary lesions can last 2 to 6 weeks.  Recurrences vary in their frequency; however, 50% of patients will have one within 6 months.  These recurrences are generally milder with fewer lesions and a much shorter course.

…..At our next visit, we will review the different subtypes of HSV and the current treatments.  Until then, remember to wear sunblock daily to protect yourself from the damaging sun.

-Dr. P

http://www.dr-polcino.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DrPolcino

http://twitter.com/DrPolcino