Herpes is an infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus. The virus basically affects the anal region, the external genitalia, mucosal areas, and skin in other body parts. Herpes happens to be a long-term condition. Nevertheless, many people do not show any symptoms although they have been carrying the virus since long.
Some of the common symptoms include ulcers, blisters, pain while urinating, vaginal discharge, and cold sores. Although there is no cure for herpes, the infection can still be treated using different medications and effective home remedies.
If you have been diagnosed with the herpes simplex virus, it is imperative for you to consult a doctor immediately to ensure you get proper and effective treatment.
Quick Facts About Herpes
Some of the vital herpes facts are:
- There are two different types of herpes simplex viruses – HSV -1 (oral herpes or herpes type 1) and HSV-2 (genital herpes or herpes type 2).
- More than 50 percent of people in the U.S. have HSV-1 virus.
- More than 15 percent of Americans aged 14 to 49 carry HSV-2 virus.
- Receiving oral sex from someone who has cold sores in their mouth considerably increases the risk of becoming infected with herpes.
- It is not possible for anyone to catch herpes from using the same toilet seat that an infected individual has used.
Most people do not experience any symptoms for months or even years after becoming infected. However, there are some who show symptoms during the initial phase and will generally notice them about 4 to 7 days after being exposed (the average period is 2 to 12 days).
Many people suffering from the HSV virus have recurring herpes. When an individual first gets infected, the recurrence of herpes on different body parts happens more frequently. Over a period of time, however, the remission phase gets long, and each occurrence turns out to be less severe.
Primary Infection Symptoms You Must Know About
Prime infection is a terminology used for an outbreak of genital herpes that takes place as an individual gets infected. The symptoms may get severe and may include:
- Vaginal discharge
- Ulceration and blisters in the vagina, on the external genitalia, or even on the cervix
- Itching and pain
- Enlarged, tender lymph nodes
- Hay fever
- Flu-like symptoms
- Pain while urinating
- Cold sores around or in the mouth
- Red blisters and rashes on the skin
In most cases, the ulcers do heal, and the person will not have any lasting scars.
Recurring Infection Symptoms
There are some symptoms that occur in recurrent infection and tend to be less severe and do not last for long when compared to the primary infection phase. Generally, these symptoms do not last for more than 10 days and include:
- Tingling or burning around the genitals before the blisters appear
- Women may have ulceration and blisters on the cervix
- Red blisters
- Cold sores in and around the mouth
Eventually, it is imperative to note that recurrences happen very less often and are less severe.
Types Of Herpes – Learn About HSV-1 and HSV-2 Difference
There are two main types of herpes:
HSV-1 – Herpes simplex virus type 1 is the most common form. It has a constant presence worldwide, and as a result, the medical community refers HSV-1 to be an endemic disease.
This form generally leads to oral herpes, as most of the HSV-1 cases affect the mouth and its surrounding areas. Nevertheless, it is very much possible for it to affect other body parts, such as the genitals. Do check out HSV pictures for better understanding.
This condition generally develops during childhood and is life-long. It can even transmit via non-sexual contact with saliva, such as while kissing.
HSV-2 - Herpes simplex virus type 2 spreads via sexual contact. The HSV-2 transmission female to male is referred to as a type of sexually transmitted infection.
This type generally causes genital herpes, which means that the infection symptoms typically develop around the anal and genital areas. It is a life-long condition, and the symptoms only show up during flare-ups.
What Actually Causes Herpes?
When HSV virus is present on the skin of an infected individual, it can be easily transmitted to anyone around via moist skin that lines the genitals, anus, and mouth. The virus may also be passed on to another person through other areas of the skin, and even the eyes.
An individual cannot be infected by the HSV virus by touching the work surface, object, towel, washbasin that has been touched by an infected person. The infection contracts in the following ways:
- Sharing sex toys
- Having unprotected anal or vaginal sex
- Having oral sex with someone who already has cold sores
- Having genital contact with an infected partner
The virus is very likely to be passed on just before the blisters appear when it becomes visible, and until it gets completely healed. HSV can still be contracted by your sexual partner(s) even when there is no sign of an occurrence, though it is very less likely to happen.
If a mother suffering from genital herpes has sores during delivery, it is very much possible that the virus will be transmitted onto the infant.
Diagnosing Herpes – Possible Techniques Doctors May Use
It is generally possible for the doctors to diagnose the HSV virus by conducting a physical examination of the symptoms that appear during an outbreak. The sores are quite easy to identify as a cause of HSV infection.
Your physician will ask questions about the symptoms you are experiencing. If they suspect it to be HSV-2 type, your doctor will inquire you about your sexual health history.
It is very likely that they take a sample from the sore. Alternatively, if an individual does not show any symptoms at all, a blood test can help detect the infection.
How Do You Treat Herpes? Why Is It Important!
There are several different treatment options available. These include:
There are various effective home remedies that can help cure herpes, including:
- Using painkillers such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
- Bathing is lightly salted water – it helps alleviate the symptoms
- Applying petroleum jelly to the affected body parts
- Soaking in a warm sitz bath
- Avoid wearing tight clothes around the affected body part
- Ensure to thoroughly wash your hands, especially after touching the affected area
- If you feel pain while urinating, ensure to apply some lotion or cream to the urethra, for instance, lidocaine
- Refrain from getting involved in sexual activity until you find the symptoms going away
Some people find that the use of ice packs prove extremely effective. However, it is imperative to note that you should never apply ice directly to the affected part of the skin, always wrap it with a towel or cloth first.
No medication can help you get rid of the virus. However, your physician may prescribe you with an antiviral, like acyclovir, which helps prevent the virus from spreading. Antiviral drugs also prevent the outbreak from clearing up faster and also helps ease the severity of symptoms.
Doctors generally prescribe with antiviral medication the first time an individual shows herpes symptoms. As recurrent outbreaks are not that severe, treatment is not really required.
However, there are creams and lotions also available that help shortens the extent of a herpes outbreak, providing utmost ease to the infected individual.
Suppressive and Episodic Treatment
Doctors usually prescribe suppressive treatment if an individual experiences more than 6 recurrences in a year. In some instances, the doctor may recommend the patient to take daily antiviral medication for indefinite periods. The objective here is to prevent any further recurrences. Though suppressive treatment considerably reduces the risk of transmitting HSV to a partner, there is still a risk!
Episodic treatment is recommended for all those who have less than 6 recurrences in a year. Doctors generally prescribe a 5-day antiviral medication course each time the symptoms show up.
Is It Possible For You To Prevent Herpes?
It is imperative to reduce the risk of catching or passing on genital herpes:
- Use condoms during a sexual activity
- Abstain from any sexual activity while the symptoms are still here (anal, genital, or skin-to-skin)
- Do not kiss the person if they have cold sores in and around the mouth
- It is better to stick to one sexual partner
Some people find being tired, stress, friction against the skin, illness, or sunbathing some of the aspects that may trigger the symptoms to recur. It is vital that you identify and avoid such triggers as it will help bring down the number of recurrences for sure!