Herpes — What You Need To Know About The Virus
Herpes and Genital Herpes

Herpes — What You Need To Know

Herpes And Genital Herpes

Herpes is a viral infection of which there are two common types — oral herpes (cold sores or fever blisters), and genital herpes (genital sores). Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease.

Types Of Herpes

These two types of herpes simplex viruses are referred to as Herpes Simplex Type 1 (HSV-1), and Herpes Simplex Type 2 (HSV-2). The two types of herpes look very similar under a microscope but generally HSV-2 refers to genital herpes and HSV-1 refers to oral herpes.

Both types of herpes are contagious and are spread easily. HSV-1 can be spread by kissing, sharing a drinking glass, sharing Chap Stick or lipstick and similar contact where an infected mouth comes in contact with another mouth.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease and can be spread with or without sores being present. In fact, often it is spread because the infected person does not know they have it.

The two types of herpes can also be spread. For example, cold sores of the mouth can be spread to the genitals through oral sex.

Oral and genital herpes can be spread by:

  • Vaginal or anal intercourse
  • Oral sex
  • Kissing
  • Sharing drinking glasses, lipstick, cigarettes, etc.
  • Mother to baby during pregnancy or at birth
  • Spreading of infection from one body part to another

If you have an outbreak of herpes with open sores, you should be careful not to spread it to other people or to other parts of your own body by washing your hands often. When you experience and outbreak, you are considered contagious from the first sign of an outbreak, until the last sore is completely healed.

Herpes can sometimes be spread by someone who has no symptoms. This is known as asymptomatic transmission. These people show no signs of having the virus but they are still contagious.

There is no scientific evidence that herpes can be spread from toilet seats or sharing towels or similar methods. The herpes virus can not live for very long outside the human body making spreading in this way virtually impossible.

The herpes virus is very successful at invading the human body. It can appear in and around the mouth and lips, around the eyes, in the throat, anywhere on the skin and even in the brain!

Symptoms Of Herpes

The symptoms of herpes are called prodrome. This is typically the only sign of an outbreak. Prodrome is caused by the virus replicating in the skin so sometimes it may lie dormant for a while or take a week to a month to appear. It will then appear as fluid-filled blisters which will scab over and dry up over the next few weeks. It may then lie dormant for an undetermined amount of time or flare up again and do the whole process all over again.

Symptoms usually occur within 2 to 20 days but sometimes may not show up at all or could be so mild they go unnoticed. Usually the first outbreak is the worst, though. Most often an outbreak is painful and may itch or burn.

Some other symptoms may include; swollen lymph glands, fever, lower back pain, burning genitals, vaginal or penile discharge, burning during urination and small red bumps in the genital area.

Herpes Treatments

At this time there is no cure for herpes. The best treatment is prevention. However, if you already have the virus, there are several options such as prescription drugs [Valtrex, Acyclovir, Zovirax, Famciclovir], over-the-counter (OTC) cold sore remedies, herbal treatments and change in nutrition.

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