Viral Infections - Belfast Skin Clinic
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Even smaller than bacteria, viruses cause a multitude of diseases- ranging from the common cold to AIDS. Viruses are incapable of reproducing on their own. Viruses depend on the organisms they infect (hosts) for their very survival.

When most people hear the word “virus”, they think of the most common disease- causing viruses such as the common cold, influenza, chickenpox and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).

Types of Viral Skin Infections

Viral skin infections can range from mild to severe and often produce a rash.

Example of viral skin infections include:

Molluscum contagiosum causes small, flesh-coloured bumps most often in children up to the age of 10; however, people of any age can acquire the virus. The bumps usually disappear without treatment, usually in 6 to 12 months but certain treatments may help speed up this healing process.

Herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) is the common virus that causes cold sores. It’s transmitted through saliva by kissing or sharing food or drink with an infected individual. Sometimes, HSV-1 causes genital herpes.

Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) causes itchy, oozing blisters, fatigue and high fever characteristic of chickenpox. The chickenpox vaccine is 98% effective at preventing infection. People who have had chickenpox (or in extremely rare instances, people who have received the chickenpox vaccine) are at risk of developing shingles, an illness caused by the same virus.

Shingles can occur at any age, but it occurs most often in people aged 60 or older.

Prevention of Viral Skin Infections

The best way to avoid viral skin infections is to avoid skin-to-skin contact (especially areas that have a rash or sores) with an infected individual. Some viral skin infections are also transmitted by an airborne route.

Communal showers, swimming pools and contaminated towels can also potentially harbour certain viruses.