A prodrome is a tingling sensation preceding an outbreak of herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV has two distinct forms, HSV 1 and HSV 2. Both belong to the Alphaherpesvirinae subfamily of the Herpesviridae family. Both cause painful lesions in the skin, around either the mouth or the genitals of the infected party. In the United States, one in five adolescents is infected with herpes simplex.
After infection with HSV 1 or 2, the virus migrates to the nerve clusters under the skin. Here it lies in a dormant state in the cytoskeletal highway until triggered. Triggers include stress, sickness, fatigue, sunburn and trauma.
When the virus activates it can stimulate the neurons along the cytoskeletal highway, engendering a tingling sensation. Prodromes are more common with HSV 2 infection, the more virulent strain of the virus. Genital herpes is typically of the HSV 2 type, but this is not always the case.
As the nerves are stimulated by the emerging virus–literally duplicating itself from the host’s cellular processes–tingling similar to pins and needles is common. Within a day, an outbreak on the skin will occur.
Prodrome extent and duration
Prodromes can affect the entire length of neurons, so the tingling can be down the leg, around the mouth or genitals, depending on the nerves infected. Prodromes usually occur one to two days before an outbreak.
It is important to note that, when a prodrome is felt, the host is contagious and can spread herpes, even before the pustules and sores erupt on the skin.
A boost of vitamins and nutrition after noticing a prodrome can help lessen the outbreak, as the body’s immune system engages the virus.
Treatment and Cure
At present there is no known cure for herpes infection, although certain anti-viral drugs can help control it. A healthy and nutritional diet can all help boost the body's natural ability to control the disease.
HSV 1 vs HSV 2: HSV 2
Typically HSV-2 is responsible for genital herpes, although this is not always the case. HSV-1 can also appear as genital herpes.
HSV-2 is the more virulent type of the virus, and typically creates more discomfort than HSV-1.
When infected with genital herpes, the virus is transmitted during sexual contact, across the epithelial mucosal cells or through contact with a lesion on the skin. It then migrates to the nerve cells (most commonly the lumbosacral ganglia) and persists in a latent state in the cytoskeletal highway. Outbreaks occur within 20 days. Blisters teeming with the virus rise up on the skin, around the genitalia and anus. They then burst and form a sore or ulcer. Contact with these lesions should be minimized–if you touch one, immediately wash your hands with soap and water. Do not share towels or clothing. Herpes is most transmissible during an outbreak, but transmission is also possible with no visible symptoms.
HSV 1 vs. HSV 2: HSV 1
HSV-1 typically causes orofacial sores, "cold sores" or "fever blisters." These outbreaks are less painful and typically less frequent than the HSV-2 manifestation of the disease. In the case of HSV-1 the virus is transmitted in saliva. While less contagious when in its dormant state, transmission is still possible with no visible symptoms. HSV-1 is the most common form of herpes infection. The majority of infections occur early in life from daily contact with friends and family.
Herpes can be devastating to newborns. Never handle a newborn if you have a herpes outbreak, either orofacial or genital. If you are a pregnant mother who suffers from genital herpes you should tell your doctor so preventative steps can be taken. In extreme cases a Cesarean section may be necessary. Herpes can be fatal to newborns, if contracted congenitally.