Herpes blisters are the outward sign of an active herpes virus infection. The herpes virus is transmitted by contact with an infected person, just before or during an outbreak. The virus can remain dormant in the nerve ending for several years, and only reappear during a period of high stress, or weakened immunity. When the virus does reappear, it will typically occur in the same location as previous outbreaks.
There are two classes of herpes, type one and type two. Type one is defined as blisters that occur on or near the mouth. These blisters are also known as fever blisters or cold sores. They are quite painful and can last up to three weeks.
Type one herpes blisters are fairly common, affecting between 15% and 35% of the population in the United States. The first infection typically occurs in childhood, with the onset of fever, pain, swollen lymph nodes, and a sore throat. The virus is spread through contact with an infected person, through their saliva, breath droplets or skin-to-skin contact.
These blisters are typically seen on the outer edge of the lips. They often appear as two to three small sores that quickly blend together. The sores become very tender, develop a crust and then a scab. The average number of outbreaks is between two and five. Individuals with compromised immune systems may have more frequent outbreaks.
The second type of herpes occurs as a result of sexual contact with an infected person. The sores appear in the genital region in clusters of three to five blisters. The first occurrence of herpes blisters occurs three to five days after contact with an infected person during a contagious phase. It is important to contact your doctor to confirm herpes infection. Anti-viral medication can be prescribed to encourage healing.
Herpes type two is a sexually transmitted disease. Condoms will not prevent the spread of herpes, as the infected sores may be anywhere in the genital region. If you have herpes, it is important to inform with your sexual partner. To avoid spreading this infection, avoid sex when you have an active infection, or when you are experience an prodrome.
Prodrome is a name for symptoms that appear just before an outbreak. During this period, the herpes infection is active and contagious. The most common prodrome symptoms are pain, tingling, and burning in the area of previous herpes blisters. Some people feel very tired and may have a slight fever.