HERPANGINA
HERPES ZOSTER
herpangina
A throat infection caused
by
coxsackievirus.
Herpangina most com-
monly affects young children. The virus is
usually transmitted via infected droplets
coughed or sneezed into the air. Many
people harbour the virus but do not
have symptoms. Symptoms may include
fever, sore throat, headache, abdominal
discomfort, and muscular pains. The
throat becomes red and a few small
blisters appear, which enlarge and burst.
Symptoms usually clear up within a
week, without specific treatment
herpes
Any of a variety of conditions
characterized by an eruption of small,
usually painful, blisters on the skin. The
term usually refers to an infection with
the
herpes simplex
virus. Forms of this
virus are responsible for
cold sores
and
genital herpes (see
herpes, genital),
among other conditions.
A closely related virus, varicella-zoster,
is responsible for
2
other conditions in
which skin blisters are a feature:
chick-
enpox
and
herpes zoster
(shingles).
herpes, genital
A
sexually transmitted
infection
caused by
1
form of the
herpes
simplex
virus, known as HSV2. After an
incubation period of about a week, the
virus produces soreness, burning, itch-
ing, and small blisters in the genital area.
The blisters burst to leave small, painful
ulcers, which heal in 10-21 days. The
lymph nodes in the groin may become
enlarged and painful, and the person
may develop headache and fever.
Genital herpes cannot be cured, but
treatment can reduce the severity of
symptoms.
Antiviral drugs
such as
aci-
clovir
make the ulcers less painful and
also encourage healing. Other meas-
ures include taking
analgesic drugs
and
bathing with a salt solution.
Once the virus enters the body, it stays
there for the rest of the person's life. Re-
current attacks may occur, usually during
periods when the person is feeling run
down, anxious, or depressed, before men-
struation, or after sexual intercourse. The
virus can be spread to others through sex-
ual intercourse even when symptoms are
absent. Recurrent attacks tend to become
less frequent and less severe over time.
Genital herpes may be passed from a
pregnant woman to her baby during
delivery. If the virus can be detected in
vaginal swabs, delivery by
caesarean
section
is usually recommended.
herpes gestationis
A rare skin disor-
der of pregnant women that produces
crops of blisters on the legs and
abdomen. The cause is not known.
Severe herpes gestationis is treated
with
corticosteroid drugs
in tablet form
and may require hospital admission.
The disorder usually clears up com-
pletely after birth of the baby, but tends
to recur in subsequent pregnancies.
herpes simplex
A common viral infec-
tion, characterized by small, fluid-filled
blisters. Herpes simplex infections are
contagious
and usually spread by direct
contact. The virus has 2 forms, HSV1
(herpes simplex virus,
type
1
) and
HSV2 (herpes simplex virus, type 2).
Most people are infected with HSV1 at
some point in their lives, usually during
childhood. The initial infection may be
symptomless, or may cause a flu-like ill-
ness with mouth ulcers. Thereafter, the
virus remains dormant in nerve cells in
the facial area. In many people, the
virus is periodically reactivated, causing
cold sores
. Rarely, the virus infects the
fingers, causing a painful eruption called
a herpetic
whitlow
.
HSV1 may produce
eczema herpeticum (an extensive rash
of skin blisters) in a person with a pre-
existing skin disorder, such as
eczema
.
Eczema herpeticum may require hospi-
tal admission. If the virus gets into an
eye, it may cause
conjunctivitis
or a
cor-
neal ulcer
.
Rarely, HSV1 spreads to the
brain, leading to
encephalitis
. The virus
may cause a potentially fatal generalized
infection in a person with an
immuno-
deficiency disorder
or in someone taking
immunosuppressant drugs
. HSV2 is the
usual cause of sexually transmitted gen-
ital herpes (see
herpes, genital
).
Treatment of herpes simplex depends
on its type, site, and severity.
Antiviral
drugs
,
such as
aciclovir
,
may be helpful,
particularly if used early in an infection.
herpes zoster
An infection of the
nerves
supplying certain skin areas that is char-
acterized by a painful rash. Also called
shingles, herpes zoster is especially com-
mon among older people. It often affects
1
side of the body only. Sometimes the
H
281
previous page 279 BMA Illustrated Medical Dictionary read online next page 281 BMA Illustrated Medical Dictionary read online Home Toggle text on/off