Herpes is a viral infection caused due to Herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes disease caused due to two different viruses Read about Herpes is a permanent guest
Herpes simplex virus-1(HSV-1) – also called as oral herpes can form blisters around the mouth
Herpes simplex virus-2(HSV-2) – appears on genitals
The herpes simplex virus is a contagious virus that can be passed from person to person through direct contact. Children will often contract HSV-1 from early contact with an infected adult. They then carry the virus with them for the rest of their life.
Infection with HSV-1 can happen from general interactions such as eating from the same utensils, sharing lip balm, or kissing. The virus spreads more quickly when an infected person is experiencing an outbreak. Additionally, it is possible to get genital herpes from HSV-1 if the individual has had cold sores and performed sexual activities during that time.
HSV-2 is contracted through forms of sexual contact with a person who has HSV-2.
Anyone can be infected with HSV, regardless of age. In cases of sexually transmitted HSV, people are more at risk when they participate in risky sexual behavior without the use of protection, such as condoms.
Other risk factors for HSV-2 include:
- Multiple sex partners
- Female individuals are more prone to infection
- Having another sexually transmitted infection (STI)
- A weakened immune system
- If a mother is having an outbreak of genital herpes at the time of childbirth, it can expose the baby to both types of HSV, and may put them at risk for serious complications.
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It is important to understand that although someone may not have visible sores or symptoms, they may still be infected by the virus and may transmit the virus to others. Some of the symptoms associated with this virus include:
- Blistering sores (in the mouth or on the genitals)
- Pain during urination (genital herpes)
- Additionally, you may experience many symptoms that are similar to the flu. These symptoms can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, headaches, tiredness, and lack of appetite.
- HSV can also spread to the eyes, causing a condition called herpes keratitis. This can cause symptoms such as eye pain, discharge, and a gritty feeling in the eye.
Herpes infection can be easily identified by a physical examination and further diagnosis is done by culturing the fluids from the blisters.
Blood tests looking for antibodies to HSV-1 and HSV-2
Treatment for Herpes
There is currently no cure for this virus. Treatment focuses on getting rid of sores and limiting outbreaks.
Outlook of Herpes
People who become infected with HSV will have the virus for the rest of their lives. Even if it does not manifest symptoms, the virus will continue to live in an infected person’s nerve cells. Some people may experience regular outbreaks. Others will only experience one outbreak after they have been infected, after which the virus may become dormant. Even if a virus is dormant, an outbreak can be triggered by certain stimuli, such as:
- menstrual periods
- fever or illness
- sun exposure or sunburn
It is believed that the outbreaks may become less intense over time because the body starts creating antibodies. If a generally healthy individual has been infected with the virus, there are usually no complications.
Although there is no cure for herpes, you can take precautionary measures to avoid becoming infected, or to prevent spreading HSV to another person.
If you are experiencing an outbreak of HSV-1, try to avoid direct physical contact with other people. Do not share any items that can pass the virus around.
It is recommended that infected individuals should not participate in oral sex, kissing, or any other type of sexual activity, during an outbreak. Additionally, if your hands have come into contact with your sores, you should wash them thoroughly and apply medication with cotton swabs to reduce contact.
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