What is Herpes? Herpes is a virus causing contagious sores, most often around reahe mouth or on the genitals. Genital herpes is an extremely threatening sexually transmitted disease that is spread through the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
It is really common and it can be passed through various ways, most commonly it is passed through sexual contact. The problem with herpes is that it is a chronic disease and it doesn’t go away easily. Unfortunately, sexually transmitted diseases are arguably the most stigmatized group of illnesses around.
- 1 About the Herpes Virus
- 2 Herpes Statistics
- 3 HSV-1 and HSV-2
- 4 Herpes Problems
- 5 Signs and Symptoms of Herpes Infection
- 6 Causes of Genital Herpes
- 7 What Causes Herpes Recurrence?
- 8 Herpes Treatment
- 9 STDs and Herpes
About the Herpes Virus
Herpes causes blisters around the genitals and even the surrounding areas. It is usually passed through intimate sexual contact with another person. It can be dangerous if it is left untreated. There have been various breakthroughs in the study against herpes that have basically rendered it into a useless disease. It’s hardly life threatening in most cases and can be treated through medicines.
If you have oral or genital herpes, you are deﬁnitely not alone. Nationwide, 45 million people ages 12 and older, or one out of ﬁve of the total adolescent and adult population, are infected with HSV-1 or 2. As many as 1 in 4 people under 25 in the United States are diagnosed with HSV 1 or 2.
HSV-2 infection is more common in women (approximately one out of four women) than in men (almost one out of ﬁve). This is according to the same genital herpes statistics research. This may be due to male-to-female transmission being more efﬁcient than female-to-male transmission.
HSV-2 infection has also been found to be more common in blacks (45.9%) than in whites (17.6%). This has nothing to do with race per se. Race and ethnicity in the United States correlate with other, more fundamental determinants of health such as poverty, access to good quality health care, behavior for seeking health care, illicit drug use, and living in communities with a high prevalence of STDs.
Ongoing genital herpes statistics research since the late 1970s indicates that the number of Americans with genital herpes infection has increased by 30%. The largest increase is currently occurring in young white teens. HSV-2 infection is now ﬁve times more common in 12- to 19-year-old whites, and it is twice as common in young adults ages 20 to 29 than it was 20 years ago.
By the time people reach their 40s, almost 90% of them have HSV 1 or 2. That means that pretty much everyone catches herpes sooner or later, even if they don’t know they have it. The person sitting across from you in the coffee shop? Your favorite cashier at the supermarket? VVhat about your parents? Yes, they probably all have herpes. All the more reason for you to not feel guilty or sad or shameful about having herpes!
In terms of infection statistics, many people are actually not aware of being infected by the herpes virus. Because of the presence of an inactive stage and the relative inability/unwillingness of infected individuals to declare their condition, statistics about herpes tend to vary.
Curiously, it has been observed that the virus infects more women than men, though the reason for this is still largely unexplained. When the virus becomes active, it is when the characteristic signs and symptoms of the herpes disease manifest.
HSV-1 and HSV-2
Herpes is spread through the herpes simplex virus (HVS).
There are two types of herpes virus, Type 1 and Type 2; both of the types are equally dangerous. They can be passed from one person to another through any sort of sexual contact, making herpes a dangerous sexual disease.
HSV-1 is most commonly called “oral herpes” because it mainly causes infections in the oral area.
Cold sores and blisters appear in the mouth and lips of a patient infected with HSV-1. HSV-2 is called “genital herpes” because it mainly affects the genitals of both the male and female.
During the active stage of HSV-2, sores and blisters may appear on the surface of the person’s genitals. It is important to note, however, that such associated symptoms are not static, as a patient with an HSV-1 infection may manifest symptoms associated with HSV-2, and vice versa.
Herpes alone is not really dangerous for you except that you might get the occasional blister or sore around your genitals but if you come into contact with any other virus such as the common cold or HIV, then herpes make their job easier.
This is why it is suggested to undergo a complete treatment for herpes and to continuously have medical checkups to make sure that you do not have the disease.
If you encounter the herpes virus during sexual contact then you may not see the impact of the virus till after a few months or even years. The virus stays in your body for a long time and generally leads to painful blisters in your genital areas and mouth.
The breakout of blisters is very rare and happens only four or ﬁve time in a year. It dies down slowly; each and every breakout becomes less severe and the virus is slowly passed out of the system. Herpes can really disrupt your sex life. It’s fairly dangerous to have sexual intercourse if you have herpes. It’s also really important to get yourself a checkup for herpes because many people, who have the virus in their body, don’t even know about it.
Herpes may not be very dangerous on its own but it attacks your immune system.
If you have herpes then it becomes really easy for you to be infected with the HIV virus. Herpes can lead to many other harmful diseases. You don’t have to worry though; herpes can be treated easily.
Science has come up with ways to slow down and destroy the herpes virus, to make sure that it doesn’t lead to any serious medical issues and sexual problems.
How serious of a medical condition is herpes? Generally, the main effects of herpes infection are not considered serious.
However, due to its highly infective state, it can prove difﬁcult and risky for a patient to make any sexual contact. In addition to this, the presence and recurrence of the sores can cause a lot of psychological distress to a patient. However, there are two dangerous complications connected to herpes infection. First, there is the possibility of an infected woman to transmit herpes to her child during pregnancy.
Second, herpes can make a person more prone to HIV infection that can lead to AIDS.
Signs and Symptoms of Herpes Infection
A person infected by the Herpes simplex virus may be asymptomatic for the most part. However, things can get risky when the signs and symptoms do show up. Aside from gaining knowledge on how to deal with the condition, learning about the signs and symptoms of herpes infection can lead to prompt diagnosis and proper management. Here are some of the signs and symptoms commonly associated with a herpes infection.
One interesting thing about the Herpes simplex virus is that it has an active and inactive state. During its inactive state, a patient will not show any symptoms and the condition is much less infectious. It is during the active state where symptoms show in the patient. The emergence of such symptoms is termed as an “outbreak”. A person with herpes can have anywhere between 2 to 4 outbreaks per year and can be triggered by numerous factors.
Factors that can trigger herpes outbreaks include sexual contact, stress, diet, hormonal imbalances, and illness.
Skin sores and blisters
This is the most common manifestation of a herpes outbreak. This can be explained by the migration of the herpes virus to skin surfaces. As the virus rapidly multiplies, this would cause what is termed as “shedding”, resulting to the emergence of the characteristic cracking and redness of skin.
The most common areas where sores and blisters develop and concentrate include the lips, mouth, genitals or the rectal area. These blisters can also spread on other parts of the skin. There are rare cases wherein the blisters would develop inside the urinary tract, which can cause a lot of pain for both men and women.
Lymph node swelling
The swelling of lymph nodes is considered as a generalized sign of an infection. During an active infection, lymph nodes from different parts of your body would swell. This is because your lymphatic system is busy combating an ongoing infection, resulting to the nodes becoming larger.
The nodes that would swell depend on where the herpes outbreak is concentrated. Usually, this swelling vanishes as soon as the outbreak subsides.
Just like lymph node swelling, ﬂu is considered as a part of your body’s natural immune response to infection. At the height of an outbreak, the person may have ﬂu and its associated symptoms such as fever.
While this is a natural response to the infection, it is important to keep ﬂu under control as leaving it unchecked can prove damaging to a number of body systems.
Pain is one of the most depressing parts of a herpes infection. There are numerous sources of pain while you are in the midst of a herpes outbreak. First would be the sores that tend to develop at different parts of your body. Regardless if it is located in your genitals, mouth, anus, or wherever, sores and blisters will make its painful presence felt.
Blisters may burst, causing the development of wounds. They also produce a burning and itchy sensation around the affected area. On rare circumstances that herpes infects the urinary tract, it can make urination very difﬁcult.
Those are just some of the most common symptoms associated with a herpes infection. As you can see, all of these symptoms including the development of the characteristic sores are linked to other conditions as well.
Causes of Genital Herpes
You can get genital herpes from another person through sexual contact only. The sexual contact can be of any type; it doesn’t matter if it is vaginal or oral. If the other person has herpes then there is a pretty good chance that you’ll get it too.
If the other person does not show signs of herpes it’s still possible for them to pass on the virus. The actual outbreak from the virus only happens a few times during the course of the disease.
The mode of transmission of herpes is direct contact of a person’s bodily ﬂuids with an infected individual. While there is an outside chance that a person might get infected through skin-to-skin contact and kissing, sexual contact is considered as the most common reason for transmission for both HSV-1 and HSV-2.
If a person has the herpes virus then they should deﬁnitely abstain from any sort of sexual contact.
Many people are not even aware of the fact that they have herpes. This is why most of them continue to have sexual encounters and spread the disease, as the disease takes a lot of time to show itself. It is during this active state where an affected person can transmit the virus to other people.
It can be months before the first outbreak and you might not even realize when you came into contact with the virus.
Herpes spreads through skin-to-skin contact.
If the moist surface of your body, such as the skin around your genitals, anus and mouth comes into contact with the moist surfaces of another person then there is a pretty good chance that the herpes virus would be transmitted to the other person. All forms of oral sex can cause infection, most often leading to oral herpes symptoms.
At the same time, both vaginal and anal penetration can cause the development of genital herpes. The interesting thing about this disease is that a person can unwittingly transmit the virus to others. This is because an infected person can transmit the virus even when they are not showing any
There are other ways to get herpes than sex. It’s possible to get herpes from the eyes as well; this can only happen if you come into direct contact with the eyes or other parts of the body.
If you have oral sex with a person who has blisters around the lining of his mouth, then you might get herpes too.
Outside the Body
Herpes cannot be spread through foreign objects. The virus quickly dies when it comes into contact with a foreign environment. This is why the virus cannot survive on the surface of objects; hence, you cannot get herpes from sharing objects with a person who has herpes.
If you share sex toys with a person that has herpes then there is a pretty good chance that you might get herpes.
Herpes barely shows itself and it can be really hard to know if someone has herpes, which is why you should always use protection when you’re having sexual intercourse. It’s easier to get herpes when the other person has blisters or sores but it’s still possible to get herpes when the other person shows no sign of the disease.
What Causes Herpes Recurrence?
There is no exact scientific explanation for why the herpes virus causes outbreaks after every few years. This recurrence is generally linked to many factors. This is why some triggers have been identiﬁed which lead to recurrence.
The outbreak usually occurs again after some time; this is known as recurrence. If you’re lucky then it might just happen that you don’t face the problem of recurrence but that is pretty rare. There are certain things that can trigger recurrence as well. This is why you have to be really careful when you have herpes, to make sure that you do not spread the disease or deteriorate the situation for yourself. There are several ways you can prevent herpes recurrence such as sleeping more and reducing stress.
One of the major triggers is friction. If you are having sexual intercourse or masturbating without lube then the friction might cause recurrence to happen.
You can control this by always using lube. You can easily get lube from any local pharmaceutical shop. There are many other triggers as well. If you are unwell then it might cause the herpes virus to trigger again. This is because if there is any other sort of virus or bacteria present in your body then it may just trigger the herpes virus as well, which was dormant before.
Stress has also been linked to herpes recurrence. It’s really important to keep yourself calm when you have herpes. This can be really difficult in this day and age but stress generally contributes to many diseases and herpes is one of them.
Stress is a regular part of everyday living. However, it can cause debilitating effects when present at excessive levels. Managing stress does not just play a major role for proper management of herpes, but it also helps in promoting overall health. Mental and physical stress are both linked to triggering viral outbreaks.
Stress not only reduces one’s immunity, but it also affects how our body runs from the inside. Managing stress properly begins with balancing everything in your life.
You should also abstain from drinking alcohol while you have herpes. It also leads to recurrence.
You should stay from ultraviolet lights. They cause your skin to become moister which might just trigger the herpes virus.
Surgery of any sort on your genital area might cause recurrence as well. It’s suggested to leave your genital area alone for a while if you have herpes.
You should also try to stay as healthy as possible. Drink and eat in the correct amount and get a lot of vitamins.
What you eat has a huge say on how healthy you will become. This does not change even when you are in the midst of an infection. Proper nutrition keeps your cells healthy, keeps your immune function up, and helps signiﬁcantly in keeping stress under control.
Aside from getting a balanced diet, it is important to keep the consumption of speciﬁc food products in check. Excess carbohydrates (speciﬁcally sugar), cholesterol, alcohol and arginine can all trigger outbreaks. Aside from eating foods that cover the food pyramid on a daily basis, taking nutritional supplements can also be extremely helpful.
If you become weak then it might impact your immune system. This might further make it easier for the herpes virus to recur and do damage to your body.
There are other ways that you can weaken your immune system. This can be through chemotherapy or even some kinds of medication. You have to make sure that you stay at the pinnacle of your health as long as you have the herpes virus.
When you get herpes it does not go away that easily. The herpes virus stays in your body for a long time and you may witness outbreaks from time to time. It usually takes some time before the first outbreak but even after the blisters and sores go away, it doesn’t mean that the virus is now dormant.
Oftentimes, these diseases (even if it is possible to acquire them through non—sexual means) are associated with negative feelings such as illicit sexual behavior. Because of this, not a lot of people want to talk about it. Only a few who have it will also be courageous enough to step up and ask for treatment.
Once you have herpes, you will be dealing with it for the rest of your life. That does not mean you cannot do anything to have a normal life. As long as you keep outbreaks in check, you will be living life as if you do not have the disease.
STDs and Herpes
There are certain risk factors that you have to consider about herpes. There are some people who are more likely to encounter herpes than others.
Most of the factors are obviously related to your sexual history and preferences. These risk factors make it easier for you to encounter herpes and have major recurrence episodes.
If you have had an STD before then you are definitely going to get herpes more easily than anyone else. STDs mostly work on the same pattern, they are transmitted similarly and they all just have different symptoms.
If you get an STD then you’ll be more open to getting herpes. STDs also weaken your immune system so it will become easier for the herpes virus to attack you. If you have sex at a very young age then you are more likely to get herpes.
This is because minors generally don’t use protection and even if they do; their immune systems aren’t mature enough to counter a virus like herpes. If you have unprotected sex, then you just increase the chance of encountering herpes. If you have sex with multiple partners then you deﬁnitely need to be more careful about your sexual encounters.