Herpes is an infection caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus and is characterised by mouth, anal, and genital sores. It is a long-term disease and common in a lot of people, approximately 3.7 billion people below the age of 50. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) is very contagious, spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids and during sexual activities.
HSV is detrimental to people with a weak immune system, especially infants. Most people living with the virus show no symptom while some other people show mild symptoms.
This write up provides information about the types, symptoms, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of HSV
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There are two types of herpes simplex virus- herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2
It is the most common type of the virus and referred to as an endemic disease by the medical community. It is also known as oral herpes. It causes fever blister (cold sores) on the mouth, lips, and genitals in rare cases. It usually develops during childhood and transmitted through non-sexual means such as kissing, sharing eating utensils and toothbrushes.
HSV-2 is an STI transmitted only through sexual contact with an infected person. It is a long-term condition characterised by anal and genital sores. Sometimes, the sores are found in other areas of the body below the waist.
A person infected with herpes simplex virus may not show any noticeable symptom, but these persons can transmit the virus to another person. When HSV symptom occurs, they do so in outbreaks that last from 2 – 6 weeks depending on the type of virus. Symptoms common to the infection include
HSV-1 and HSV-2 are both transmitted through direct contact with the virus. It is also transmitted when sores are not visible.
HSV-1 can be contracted through mouth contact or sharing toothbrushes, eating utensils and any other thing that comes in contact with the saliva or sores of an infected person. People with an active outbreak of the symptoms have a higher chance of transmitting the virus.
HSV-2 is transmitted mostly through oral, anal and vaginal sex. Contact with saliva, bodily fluids and sores can transmit the HSV-1.
Genital herpes can be transferred from a pregnant mother to her child during childbirth.
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A doctor can carry out the diagnosis by simply examining the physical symptoms during an outbreak. A confirmation can be carried out with laboratory tests such as DNA or polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, and virus culture of samples taken from the areas affected by the sores.
If a doctor suspects genital herpes, they will ask questions about the person’s sexual health.
There is no cure for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. If a person contracts the virus, it remains inactive in the nerve cells. The virus can be triggered by some conditions; at this point, a person experiences an outbreak of the symptoms. Conditions that can trigger an outbreak include
The symptoms may clear up on their own without any medication, but some treatments can be administered to reduce the frequent occurrence of outbreaks, control the symptoms and reduce the chances of transferring the virus to other people.
Antiviral creams and ointments such as famciclovir, valacyclovir, and acyclovir are available to help reduce discomfort, itching, and stinging of the sores. They are available as pills and injection.
HSV is a very common long-term viral infection. It is transmitted rapidly through direct contact. An infected person may not show any symptom and symptoms come in outbreaks. The virus can only be managed as there is no available cure for it. Click here to book an appointment so that our doctors can help with your STD tests and treatments