Herpes is a disease, which is easily transmitted by direct contact with the body fluid or the cut of an infected individual.
Transmission of herpes may also occur through skin-to-skin contact during the no symptoms period. Essentially, there are two types of herpes: Herpes type 1 (HSV -1 or oral herpes) and herpes type 2 (HSV -2 or genital herpes). A herpes cycle lasts from the active period – wherein blisters appear, containing infectious virus till the last period – to the remission period.
Causes of Herpes
Oral and genital herpes are caused by an infection of the herpes simplex virus. Oral herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 and genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2.
Herpes viruses are passed from one person to another during sexual contact that involves touching of the mouth or genitals, or vaginal or anal sex. Oral sex can spread genital herpes to the mouth or transmit oral herpes to the genitals. Oral herpes can also multiply by kissing and other activities in which you are exposed to the mucous membranes or saliva of a person with oral herpes
Any person who takes in sexual activity can obtain and pass on a herpes infection. This includes heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual men and women. The more one night stands you have or had in the past, the greater are the risk of catching a herpes infection. It’s important to know that herpes can be spread between people even when no blisters or symptoms are present.
The herpes virus can also be passed from an infected mother to her newborn during vaginal delivery. Hence, the pregnant women with genital herpes should consult her doctor to prevent transmission of the herpes.
Risk factors for Herpes
Besides acquiring herpes through skin-to-skin contact and direct contact with the bodily fluids of the infected person, there are certain factors which increases the risk of transmitting the herpes infection. They are as follows…
Born to a mother with active genital herpes during pregnancy or delivery
Low immune system because of some medications or treatment or due to some diseases like HIV/AIDS or lupus.
Direct exposure to the saliva or any other bodily fluids of a person with oral herpes
Past history of any sexually transmitted disease (STD)
Unprotected sex, including vaginal, oral or anal sex
Symptoms of Herpes
Symptoms of herpes vary from person to person. Both men and women with herpes may have vague or mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Quite a few people with herpes may have recurring outbreaks of symptoms. This recurrence can go on for days, months or even years. Recurrences are generally milder in nature and do not last as long as the initial outbreak.
Symptoms of oral herpes include:
Itching, discomfort or pain in the areas of the blisters and sores
Small blisters filled with clear yellowish fluid.
Swollen neck lymph nodes
After a period of time, blisters, sores or cuts can reappear due to reactivation of the herpes virus due to some illness or stress.
Symptoms of genital herpes
Early symptoms of genital herpes occur two to six days after exposure and can include:
General feeling of malaise or not feeling well
Pain, sensitivity or itching near or on the penis, vulva or rectum.
Appearance of groups of blisters on areas, such as the genitals, vagina, cervix, thighs, buttocks or anus
Blisters that break open and develop into painful lesions or sores that last about two weeks
Swollen lymph glands
Unusual vaginal discharge
Treatment for Herpes
Although there is no complete cure for herpes available in the market, there are numerous medicines available to reduce the pain and symptoms of herpes. These medicines delay the onset of serious herpes related health complications and lowers the possibility of spreading herpes to others.
Besides the normal medicines and ointments, apply sun block or lip balm to lips when outdoors, apply cold packs to the affected areas, avoid touching affected areas, prefer cesarean delivery if you have genital herpes, keep the area clean and dry, don’t share your personal items like toothbrush etc and lastly wash the affected area thoroughly after using the bathroom.
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