Health & Medical

Everything You Need To Know About Herpes

In the past few years, the spread of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) is thought to have increased. Most experts believe there are several reasons for this, such as more individuals having unprotected sex.

Also, there’s a high number of dating applications that easily connect people. Therefore, sexual partners are easily available today. Many aren’t well informed about STIs and STDs, especially in underdeveloped areas. This is mainly because health sectors in such places are underfunded. And there may not be enough clinics where people can get STI and STD education, diagnosis, and treatment. 

Among STIs and STDs, herpes has become quite common recently. It’s acquired when one is infected with the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Herpes has been around for many years and is familiar to many. However, not all people understand it well enough. For instance, some think that it’s only spread through sex. 

Furthermore, you may be wondering if a person can develop immunity to herpes. To shed light on this matter, here is the full report. There are several other things you may not know about herpes. Read on to find out more. 

What Causes Herpes?

HSV virus types 1 and 2 cause herpes. You may not fully understand the difference and connection between these two. Usually, HSV-1 leads to oral herpes. In this case, an infected person will develop sores around the mouth and face. On the other hand, HSV-2 results in genital herpes. This type affects the buttocks, genitals, vagina, inner thighs, anus, and other areas below the waist. 

However, some cases of oral sores may result from HSV-2. This can happen when HSV-2 is transferred to the mouth during oral sex. Conversely, patients may develop genital sores due to HSV-1. This occurs when HSV-1 spreads to the genitals through oral sex.  

How Is Herpes Transmitted?

One can get oral herpes from an infected person if they come into contact with the HSV-1 virus in sores, saliva, semen, and other bodily secretions. This means an individual can get the virus if they kiss, have oral sex, or have skin-to-skin contact with a patient because there’s direct exposure to the infected area. Besides that, you could get the virus through a cut, rash, or other sores in your body. 

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People can also be exposed to genital herpes if they come into direct contact with a patient’s bodily fluids and sores. This means touching an infected site, kissing, having oral and penetrative sex, and sharing pleasure toys with a person with HSV-2. 

Oral and genital herpes can also spread in the following ways:

  • Sharing Of Personal Items: One may be infected through sharing clothes, towels, and utensils with an infected person. The reason is that the HSV can live outside the body. Therefore, if a patient with a sore uses a spoon and you immediately eat with it, you could contract the virus. 
  • Parent-to-Child Transmission: Parents can spread herpes to their children if they have a sore and kiss their kids on the lips.
  • Vaginal Birth: Pregnant women can transfer HSV to their babies during a vaginal birth if they have an active lesion. This mostly happens if the mother has herpes but doesn’t take antiviral drugs. Therefore, pregnant women should take their medication and notify a healthcare provider of their condition before delivery to reduce the chances of infecting their babies.

Avoiding all of the above can lessen the risk of contracting herpes. Additionally, practicing safer sex can help. This means not having multiple sexual partners and using latex condoms for penetrative intercourse and dental dams during oral sex. 

How Can You Identify Herpes Symptoms?

A person may not notice any symptoms immediately after infection. It can take days or weeks for the signs to appear. However, some of the earliest symptoms for the first episode or a primary infection may include the following:

  • Reduced appetite 
  • Headaches
  • Fever 
  • Unusual fatigue
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Also, before a blister forms, you’ll notice unusual sensations in various body parts. For example, it may be a painful tongue or itchy genitals. You’ll generally experience a tingling, burning, irritating, and itchy sensation around an infected area. After that, you’ll notice a small blister or a cluster of them forming. Often, these can be painful and take longer to heal. At this stage, you can transmit herpes to another person.

It’s best to get tested immediately after identifying any primary infection symptoms. Do this, too, if you suspect your partner has the virus. Furthermore, if you notice a smelly discharge, unusual sores, or irritation when urinating, visit a healthcare provider for testing.

After the first herpes episode, some people may not experience other outbreaks. Even so, others do, but occasionally. Stress, illnesses, fever, and sun exposure can trigger an episode. Nevertheless, the body develops antibodies against HSV, which helps reduce frequent outbreaks. 

In case of a recurrent episode, you’ll easily see signs of an outbreak. You’ll often have a tingling, itchy, burning, or painful sensation before sores appear. However, you’ll notice less irritation of the blisters than in the primary episode. Also, the sores won’t be as visible as they were and might heal faster. After noticing any symptoms of a recurrent herpes outbreak, take antiviral drugs. The medication can help shorten or prevent an episode.  

How Is Herpes Treated?

There isn’t a herpes cure yet. However, there are antiviral drugs a doctor can prescribe to shorten and prevent outbreaks. The healthcare provider may also give you medication for pain relief. 

Final Thoughts 

Though herpes is common today, many people don’t understand much about it. To dispel misconceptions about herpes, refer to this detailed guide for clarification. It also provides the basics about herpes, such as causes, types, how it’s spread, symptoms, and treatment.

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