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Facial herpes is a commonly experienced condition and the herpes simplex virus is responsible for this condition. This condition usually affects areas around the nose and the mouth in particular. Facial herpes results in cold sores or fever blisters in the regions around the lips and mouth and is also called orofacial herpes or herpes labialis.

Facial herpes is quite common and affects millions of individuals all over the world. The HSV-1 virus is primarily responsible for this condition and as many as 90% of individuals above the age of 50 suffer from this condition. Around 20 to 40% of individuals also experience recurrence in this condition. In this condition the virus invades into the cells through a crack or opening in the skin surface.

When the initial infection occurs in most cases no obvious symptoms of facial herpes are observed. The symptoms that occur in some cases include fever along with flu like signs, sore throat and mouth. These symptoms may make swallowing problematic. Patients may experience painful blisters on the gums and tongue and also around the lips.

In facial herpes after the virus gains entry in the body it travels by way of the nerve paths and rests in the trigeminal ganglion which is a bunch of nerves that are located near the inner ear. In some cases no further facial herpes episodes may be experienced while in other cases the virus may be reactivated and this may result in recurrences. Recurrences tend to be of shorter duration than the primary outbreak and these may also be less severe.

At the beginning of a facial herpes outbreak patients may experience a burning, tingling or an itchy feeling and this may be followed by swelling in the affected region. After this a number of blisters may develop in this region and these blisters may be filled with fluid. These blisters may burst and dry out and heal without any scarring.

Facial herpes may be transmitted by physical contact with a person who is infected. It may be transmitted by hugging or kissing someone who is infected. It is transmitted particularly in the phase when the virus is active. Sharing of face towels, lipsticks and glasses can also result in transmission of this virus. Transmission of the virus can also occur even when no obvious symptoms are present.

Recurrence of facial herpes may be triggered by some factors like exposure to sunlight, trauma to the mouth area and cosmetic procedures. Stress, illness and fatigue may also result in recurrence in this condition. It is advisable for those suffering from this condition to start treatment immediately. If the episodes are extremely severe or the recurrences are frequent then it is advisable to take antiviral medication on a regular basis.

Diagnosis of this condition can be done on the basis of physical examination along with swab of the blisters to determine the presence of the virus. Blood test is also done to detect presence of antibodies. Patients suffering from facial herpes should avoid sharing items such as face towels, glasses, toothbrushes and mugs with other individuals. Treatment for this condition includes antiviral medication like famciclovir, valaciclovir and acyclovir.


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