Herpes is the common name for herpes simplex viruses that have two types: oral herpes or HSV-1 and genital herpes or HSV-2. The more common of the two is HSV-1 which causes sores around the lips and mouth that are familiarly called as cold sores or fever blisters. Genital herpes can be caused by HSV-1, but HSV-2 causes more cases of genital herpes. A person infected with HSV-2 will experience sores around the rectum or genitals. There may be other areas in the body that can be infected with HSV-2, but the sores will only be located below the waistline.
The transmission of the HSV-1 infection can be passed through sharing eating utensils, kissing or sharing toothbrushes. As a rule, a person can only get infected with HSV-2 when he or she has sex with someone who has the HSV-2 genital infection. It must be noted that the absence of sores in an infected person will not make him or her less infectious.
Genital herpes in pregnant women may pose serious health conditions to the baby during birth. The pregnant woman should consult her doctor as soon if she already has the infection before getting pregnant or first acquired the infection when she was already pregnant.
Most infected people do not experience severe outbreaks, but there are some that do. After the first outbreak, a dormant state will follow wherein the virus will transfer to the nerve cells and ‘sleep’. However, there are factors that can trigger the virus to become active again and they are:
- Menstrual periods
- Emotional or physical stress
- General illness from mild to serious conditions
- Medications such as steroids or chemotherapy or immunosuppressant meds for AIDS
The herpes simplex virus would start as either a single blister or many blisters that may be on or around the infected areas such as the rectum, mouth, and genitals. The blisters will break after a certain period leading to tender sores.
The symptoms in herpes can be relieved by medications, but it will not cure the infection. There is no cure for herpes as soon as the virus has entered the body. What the treatment can do is to relieve the pain during outbreaks and give faster healing time. The number of outbreaks can also be controlled by the drugs. The pain of genital sores can be alleviated through warm baths.
Some infected people would only experience mild symptoms or none at all. This could make them unaware that they are infected. But there infected people who experience severe symptoms and these can be very painful. This usually happens during the first outbreak which always accounts for the worst experience. A description of the symptoms of a first outbreak would include difficulty or pain or burning when urinating and pains and aches around or in the genital area. Discharges from the penis or vagina have also been noted.
Cold sores are the common name for lesions caused by oral herpes that usually manifest symptoms such as burning and tingling before blisters would eventually break out. The blisters have been noted to be extremely painful experiences for infected people during the first outbreak.