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Erma L. Benitez, M.D.
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Herpes SImplex

If tingling, burning, itching, or tenderness - signs of a recurrence - occur in an area of the body where you had a herpes infection, then that area should be kept away from other people. With mouth lesions, one should avoid kissing and sharing cups or lip balms. For persons with genital herpes, this means avoiding sexual relations, including oral/genital contact during the period of symptoms or active lesions. Condoms may help prevent transmission of genital herpes to your sexual partner.

Other Serious Implications of HSV
Eye Infections - HSV may infect the eye and lead to a condition called herpes keratitis. It feels like there is something in the eye. There is also pain and sensitivity to light and a discharge. Without prompt treatment, scarring of the eye may result. Fortunately, there are drugs available that are quite effective in eliminating infection and preventing severe scarring in the cornea. Any patient with a suspected eye infection from herpes should be seen immediately by an ophthalmologist.

Infection in Babies - A pregnant woman who had genital herpes at the time of delivery may transmit the virus to her baby as it passes through the birth canal. If the birth occurs during the mother's first episode of genital herpes, the baby may suffer severe damage. Women who know that they have had genital herpes or thing they might have it during their pregnancy should tell their physicians so the baby can be protected.

Pregnant women should avoid sexual contact, with a partner who has active genital herpes, (especially late in the pregnancy). The use of condoms is suggested for those who will not abstain.

The newborn can also be infected by exposure to the virus from non-genital lesions. If the mother or a person working in the nursery has active blisters on the lips or hands, the baby can become infected. Family members and friends with active HSV should not handle the newborn child.

No special precautions need to be taken by the woman who has inactive herpes (genital or non-genital) at the time of delivery. Since the mother's infection is not active, the infant is not at risk.

HSV And The Seriously Ill - HSV can be life-threatening to the person who has cancer, ther person who has had an organ transplant or anyone who has some other major illness because their immunity to infections has been reduced.