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k3ttl3Chip

Oral/Facial Herpes Severity & Other Questions

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k3ttl3Chip

I have some questions regarding my outbreaks. This is a bit long, so I totally understand if you only want to reply to one or two points. I numbered them to make the reply process easier.

1. Severity

I am very curious to know if anyone else has had severe outbreaks that have shown on all areas of the face (including ears) instead of just on the lips or around the mouth. I have suffered from oral (facial) herpes since I had my first outbreak in 2006 (when I was 27). I assume I contracted them from my wife (who I have been with exclusively since 2003). The reason I assume this is because I never had an outbreak until three years into our relationship (when we got back from our honeymoon), but my doctor said it is possible that I got it from a past lover, and it was dormant until it was "unleashed" by all the sex and sun in Hawaii. The interesting thing is my wife rarely has cold sores as the last time she had one was two years ago.

Since 2006 I have averaged about 3 or 4 OBs a year. The first one (in 2006) was all over both of my lips. From there it got increasingly and quickly worse until it culminated in the summer of 2008 when I had one that affected both lips, my entire chin, nose, cheeks, the inner upper roof of my mouth, both ears including the area of skin under and around my sideburns, and the outside skin at corner of my eyes (which then caused my under eye area to puff up so much it looked like I was punched and blocked my downward peripheral vision). When I had that out break it was horrific. I missed a week of work as it seriously looked like I had been burned. In addition, it was the first time that I had an outbreak on my genitals. I have only ever had two minor outbreaks on my genitals, both were in the summer of 2008. Up until this OB I had only taken Valtrex at the first sign of tingle. After that, I have taken it every day and have added B-complex and L-Lysine to my daily pill list. As a result, I have only had a few minor outbreaks that have affected only my lips and only very small parts of my cheek/chin/nose areas. I have not had another genital outbreak since being on Valtrex every day.

After surfing these forums for along time, I noticed theme with people mentioning spreading the areas by shaving. While I suspect this may part of my issue, how would it explain how it spread to the roof of my mouth, my ears, or my nose? In addition, I am still curious as to how it got to my penis, as I always refrained from any sex during facial outbreaks. Can the virus travel down there just through my nerves?

2. Valtrex

My second question involves the safety of long term use of Valtrex. My doctor assures me I am fine and that it will not hurt me, but I’m always hesitant as I don’t like drugs. Has anyone here taken Valtrex for 1+ years every day, stopped, and found they did NOT have an increase in the duration, interval or severity of their outbreaks?

3. Carrier vs. Symptomatic

My next question involves my wife. First I have to give her props as she told me about her issue before we were intimate. I just loved her too much to care. Anyway, is it possible that she is just a “carrier” of this virus? That I am just unlucky to have an immune system that can’t cope with it, and hers is able to naturally keep it at bay? I ask as we have had regular protected sex since we met, unprotected sex since we were engaged, and then a lot of unprotected when we were trying to get pregnant (obviously), and to this day she has never had a genital outbreak, and like I said before only gets minor (like a small sore in just the corner of her mouth) every few years. I always tell her I don’t blame her, I just want to know so that I did not in fact have it from before and then give it to her.

4. Infant Care

Does anyone here have an infant, or have past experience with an infant while having an outbreak? I am currently having a very minor one now to both of my lips which prompted me to find this forum community. I took my doctors advice to not kiss her when I suspect an outbreak or have one, but how long do I need to wait until all symptoms have subsided until I can safely put her on my shoulder near my face or kiss her cheek again? Also, is it safe for me to change her diaper or bottle feed her if I wash my hands well with soap, or even wear gloves? To this point all I have done is change her diaper but avoid bottle feeding as it involves her mouth.

I would just be devastated if I gave it to her this young (she is 3 months), so I am being very cautious, but it kills me to not hold her and kiss her. It also worries me when she gets older as I don’t want to avoid showing my child affection the rest of my life all because I’m afraid of giving it to her. I have suffered greatly with this virus, and I don’t want that for her. Any advice here would help greatly.

I know this is a novel, but I appreciate any feedback. Thank you for your time and for this awesome community.

;)

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Herpes Awareness

Sounds like a pretty severe problem re your immunity. Unfortunately, you seem to be one of the bottom few percentile who have a real problem with it.

Do you know if it's HSV-1 or 2 at this stage? Both you and your wife should get the type-specific tests to make sure you have the same type of HSV (substrains notwithstanding). If they were different, it might tell you that you didn't get it from her.

if it's HSV-1 (more potent on the face) then that's the strain that apparently 70% or more of the population has antibodies for, which implies that many people are infected in the community.

To attempt answers to the Qs:

1) the virus lives in nerves (neurophilic) and hence travels from the site of infection to the spine then back out through other nerves also attached at the same point of the spine -- hence the way it travels to other parts of your face -- it's coming from your spine and tracking up all the nerves in its neurophilic way.

re shaving and self-inoculation, the immune system takes about 6 weeks to produce antibodies from time of first infection, you are then much less likely to self-inoculate after that, but should still be careful of blisters etc. however the outbreak all over the face is the nerve thing mentioned above.

the genital infection may also have come from your wife with even a minor cold sore on her part. probably enough said there.

2) I don't know, it's meant to be generally OK and low side effect profile. check the drug guides on it. some alopecia can occur with long term continuous use.

3) lots of people are 'carriers', but their immune systems are better at suppressing it, so very few nooticeable outbreaks. having said that, i believe some 100% of hsv2 carriers have some sort of signs, it's never compltely invisible. the breakdown is generally 20% severe symptoms, 60% moderate symptoms, and 20% mild symptoms -- i don't think they are 'asymptomatic' under scrutiny tho

4) yes, be careful with outbreaks, but some 70%+ of the popn has antibodies to hsv1 as it is so easily spread from any kissing activity. unfortunately your outbreaks seem much more noticeable, i'm assuming an ob causes the virus to express itself on the skin, so be careful. maybe use a lot of alcohol wipes or purell type solution to kill it on the skin surface around those times also.

these are just some quick and not very politic answers, others might like to add more...

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ntdc

I have outbreaks like yours , maybe not as severe but the area is over most of my face. Glad to hear valtrex is working for you

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k3ttl3Chip

Thank you for your great answers, I appreciate it.

In the type-specific test you mentioned, do I have to be having an outbreak in order to have the test done, or can it be done at any time? Also, would it be a test that I would have done at my regular family doctor, or is it through a specialist?

As far as immunities, I know that the doctors told us like crazy that my wife passed on her immunities through the womb and through the first weeks of breast feeding. Would it be possible she gave our daughter her immunities (if it is in fact the same type we have)? One could hope.

The only thing I still really want to know is for those who have had herpes for a while now. Is it true that the duration and severity of outbreaks decreases with time? I can take living with this so much better if I know it won't attack me as bad as it did again.

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ntdc

The type-specific test is a blood test it can be done any time by your family doctor or through a private clinic (google STD testing). It does not matter if symptoms are present.

Your daughter is not immune to herpes, the antibodies passed from mother to child fade quickly. She can contract it from you or your wife.

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Katiehope

I have OB's like that as well and am currently in month 3 of continuous OB. I get them on my moutn, in my mouth, gums, roof of mouth, in my ears and on my scalp around my ears and at the back of my neck. I think I've had it twice in my eyes as well and have been on Valtrex for over 2 years. I am currently taking both Valtrex and Zovirex at the same time and it still doesn't help. I take all the immune support like lysine, B12, aloe, olive leaf, etc and nothing - it just continues to get worse. I hope you find something that works, if you do, please pass it on as I've tried everything and it doesn't seem to be getting any better.

Kirsten

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k3ttl3Chip

ntdc,

thank you for the test clarification, and on possible infection of our daughter. my hope is that she is at least out of infancy if and when she may get it, as when they are this little they really are at risk of severe reactions. We do our best to prevent it.

Do you think though that I'm good to bottle feed and diaper her if I wear long sleeves and wash my hands well with hot water and soap?

Katiehope

I have been on Valtrex for a little over a year and just started taking the B-Complex and L-Lysine in April. So far my outbreaks are a bit better compared to what they were, but I fear what would happen if I come off the drug.

Work through it though, I had several very bad outbreaks before I noticed a difference.

Also, figure out your triggers. So far mine are stress, video gaming late into the night (too little sleep), sun exposure, and excessive alcohol. My current outbreak happened after two nights up until two am and a few too many drinks at my friends wedding reception last Saturday. Now that I know them, I monitor my alcohol much better, force myself to go to bed by 10 pm when I can, work out to lessen stress, etc.

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ntdc

I cant speak to your specific questions if it makes you feel better my mom has OHSV-1 with frequent outbreaks and I never contracted it from her. I contracted herpes years later after moving away from home.

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lala

I've experienced severe to moderate outbreaks of Type 1 on my lips and inside my mouth (roof, inside of cheeks, tongue, and gums) for the past 3 years.

1. I've found that daily Valtrex doesn't do much for my oral symptoms, but I know of people on this forum who have both genital and oral, and they all say that Valtrex DEFINITELY helps their genital outbreaks. This is prob. why you haven't had another genital outbreak since starting antivirals.

2. I took daily valtrex for about 9 months before stopping. I had one severe outbreak immediately upon stopping. I held out and it turned out to be a good decision for me. I take Lysine and changed my diet and after that and I'd say that now my rate of outbreak is the same as it was when I took Valtrex every day. Keep in mind, that I don't to my knowledge have genital herpes, and I've never had severe outbreaks on my face so I don't know if you would have the same experience.

3. Was your wife exposed to HSV as a child? For some people, the longer they have HSV, the less severe the outbreaks become. Maybe she's just had it much longer than you.

4. I don't know much about infant care...I would just follow your doctor's advice: no contact when you feel prodromal symptoms, or when you have a visible sore - I would wait a day after the sores go away, maybe just to be sure. I have to say it's cool that you are equally concerned for your daughter's physical and emotional well-being.

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k3ttl3Chip

Lala,

Thank you for the super reply!

In response to a few of your questions, yes my wife has had the virus since she was a child - she recalls having cold sores in the winter as early as 8-10 years old (she is 28 now)

As far as waiting a day after the sores leave, when exactly is the "safe stage." For example, for the past few days I have not had any discharge or visible bumps, but rather my lips are just very smooth feeling/looking and they are "tightening." This usually goes on for 2-5 days following the 3-5 days if tingling, crusting, etc. Am I still shedding right now?

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