Viral infections of the skin are common and include warts, cold sores, chicken pox, shingles, molluscum contagiosum and hand, foot and mouth disease. The three main types of viruses that cause most viral skin infections are the human papilloma virus, the herpes simplex virus and the pox virus. While these viruses cannot be cured, their affects on the skin can be prevented or minimized through proper treatment by a medical professional.
Warts are non-cancerous skin growths caused by the human papilloma virus. They are common around the nails, back of the hand and soles of the feet. Warts can be raised and rough, flat and scaly or long and narrow, depending on their type and location on the skin.
Your Trillium Creek Dermatology & Surgery Center skin expert can offer a wide range of treatments to remove warts, depending on the type, location and severity. Common treatments include salicylic and lactic acid, cryotherapy (freezing), electrodesiccation (using electrical current), immunotherapy and laser surgery. Warts are prone to recurrence, so repeated treatments may be necessary.
COLD SORES & FEVER BLISTERS
Cold sore and fever blisters are small blisters caused by the herpes simplex virus. Outbreaks usually last approximately 2 weeks or less and can be triggered by sun, wind or a cold. Cold sores appear around the mouth and can cause soreness of the lips and mouth, tingling of the lips and itching. Fever blisters can appear anywhere on the skin with similar symptoms. Homeopathy is utilized in stubborn cases.
Antiviral medications, both topical and oral, can be used to alleviate the symptoms of cold sores and fever blisters during an outbreak. Your Trillium Creek Dermatology skin expert will determine the severity of your condition and recommend an effective course of treatment to speed recovery and manage pain and itching.
Chicken pox is a highly contagious viral infection caused by the varicella zoster virus, and is most often seen in children ages 5 to 10. It causes a red, itchy rash on the face, scalp, chest, back or over the entire body. Itching can range from mild to severe. The rash usually appears 2 weeks after exposure to the virus and may be accompanied by fever, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, headache and general malaise.
Most cases of chicken pox heal without complications and with minimal scarring if scratching can be controlled. Do not give anyone with chicken pox (child or adult) any medication containing aspirin as the combination is linked to Rhye’s syndrome.
Seek emergency medical care for breathing difficulties, confusion, disorientation, excessive sleepiness or seizures. Seek medical care for high fever (over 103° F); rash involving an eye; continued dehydration, vomiting, or decreased fluid intake; or secondary skin infections.
Your Trillium Creek Dermatology skin expert may prescribe antiviral medications to shorten the duration of the infection as well as antihistamines to relieve itching.
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is a common viral infection of the nerves that causes very painful blisters on any area of the body. Shingles is caused by a reactivation of the same virus that causes chicken pox (varicella zoster virus).
Once you contract chicken pox, the virus lies dormant in nerves until it is reactivated, often in persons over age 50.
Shingles has to run its course, because there is no cure for the disease. Your Trillium Creek Dermatology skin expert can provide pain relief, antibiotics for secondary infections, and antiviral preparations to minimize symptoms and nerve damage. In addition, you may benefit from bed rest, cool compresses applied to affected skin areas, and antidepressants to treat the emotional effects that can result from the disease.
Molluscum contagiosum is a viral infection of the skin that causes small flesh colored bumps on the skin surface. The number of lesions usually ranged from 2 to 20, and appear in clusters. The infection is most common in children and adolescents, although adults can also be affected. While the condition is not harmful and does not have any other symptoms, the virus inside the lesions is contagious.
Your Trillium Creek Dermatology skin expert will assess the severity of your condition to determine a reasonable course of action. In most cases, the lesions will heal without treatment over a period of 6 to 9 months. Additional treatment options may include removal of the lesions or topical preparations to speed the resolution of the lesions.
HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE
Hand, foot and mouth disease is a mild but highly contagious viral infection caused by the coxsackie virus that results in sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet. It is common in young children and is spread from close contact, usually through unwashed hands or contaminated surfaces.
Hand, foot and mouth disease is not associated with foot and mouth disease (also called hoof and mouth disease) found in farm animals. Hand, foot and mouth disease cannot be contracted from, or transmitted to, pets or other animals.
There is no specific treatment for hand, foot and mouth disease. Your Trillium Creek Dermatology skin expert may recommend pain relievers, because sores in the mouth and throat may make swallowing painful and lead to dehydration. Symptoms generally disappear in 7 to 10 days.
Complications of the coxsackie virus can include viral meningitis and encephalitis but these are very rare. Reduce the risk of infection by practicing good hygiene, especially frequent and thorough hand washing.
Pityriasis rosea is a scaly, itchy, reddish-pink rash that is common in children and young adults and usually occurs in the spring and fall seasons. An outbreak of pityriasis rosea is often accompanied by cold symptoms.
The first lesion (or “herald patch”) appears most often on the back or stomach, followed by a general outbreak on the lower abdomen. Pityriasis rosea is not contagious and lasts approximately 1 to 3 months.
Your Trillium Creek Dermatology & Surgery Center skin experts can provide antihistamines to alleviate itching, as well as steriod creams and other topical preparations to treat the outbreak. Pityriasis rosea generally clears up completely, without scarring and without recurring.