Herpes is a common viral infection that often causes sores, blisters, lesions or blemishes on the skin, especially on the face (lips or mouth) and or around the genital area.
What does herpes normally looks like?
The most obvious signs of genital herpes are blisters, sores, lesions much like the classic cold sores that eventually crust over in a scab before healing.
These can appear in various locations:
- Thighs (upper)
Who is more likely to get herpes?
Herpes is equally common in both males and females.
There are two types of Herpes
Both types can cause genital herpes and oral herpes.
- HSV type 1- affects the lips (fever blisters or cold sores are present)
- HSV type 2- this type of herpes infects the genital part, but can also infect the mouth during oral sex.
How does one get herpes?
- Sexual intercourse
- Skin to skin contact
- Oral sex
- Usage of non-sanitized utensils and towels/face cloths
People usually get herpes by having sexual contact with others who don’t know they are infected or who are having outbreaks of herpes without any visible sores or lesions. The herpes virus is however not usually spread by touching objects such as a toilet seat, swimming in swimming pools or bath that has been used by a herpes sufferer before.
Most people, who have herpes, are unaware of this condition as they never have any symptoms or don’t recognize the following symptoms:
- Pain in the legs, genital area
- Pain experienced when urinating
- Irregular discharge from the vagina or penis
- Swollen glands in the groin area
Usually when a person becomes infected with herpes for the first time, the symptoms will appear within two to 10 days and common cold symptom such as a fever, headache and swollen glands may be experienced.
The first time that a person experiences herpes, it can last for up to 2 to 3 weeks.
Will outbreaks occur again?
If you had HSV1 or HSV2 you will probably have outbreaks on a regular basis. The herpes virus never dies, it merely falls asleep within our bodies, waiting for the right time to wake. When the virus is no longer active, it travels to the nerves at the end of the spine and stays there for a while. In some cases, the virus can become active several times a year.
- If you experience an outbreak of herpes, avoid touching the sores
- Avoids kissing people that has sores or blisters
- Sharing utensils that have not been properly sterilized
- Avoid precipitating causes like sun exposure
- Reduce stress level
- Avoid performing oral sex, vaginal intercourse or even anal sex without using a condom.
- Use latex condoms even when herpes lesions or blisters are not present for oral, vaginal as well as anal intercourse.
- Avoid intercourse when herpes is active
If you do not have herpes:
- Avoid direct contact with cold sores or genital blisters
- Use latex condoms to ensure you remain herpes free
- Wash any items that you believe have saliva or other bodily fluid from a person who has HSV1 or HSV2 in a sterile solution and boiling water before use (others razor blades and even toothbrushes should not be shared however drinking cups or glasses may be shared safely provided these are washed and sanitized thoroughly).
How is herpes diagnosed?
A doctor will be able to diagnose if you have herpes by:
- Visual inspection
- Blood test
There are no cures for herpes at this present moment, but your doctor will prescribe you with certain medication such as:
- Antiviral therapy such as Foscarnet is recommended, especially for first time outbreaks.
- Natural products
- Homeopathic products
Some of the main means to protect yourself from getting herpes
You should use a condom when having sexual intercourse with your partner especially when he or she has an outbreak. (It is recommended that a condom be used all the time, as in some instances when the virus is not shedding, a herpes free person may still contract this virus). This ensures maximum safety for both your partner and yourself.
Being faithful to one partner is also another way to ensure safety for both yourself and your partner.
Case studies show
It has been estimated that around 37,000,000 people in the United States, aged from 16 to 80 may have been infected with the HSV1 and HSV2 herpes virus with around 500,000 new cases of herpes being reported each year. This large number may be due to poor education on this condition or unprotected sex.