What Is Herpes?

Feb 22, 2012 No Comments by

Most people know that genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. But, did you also know that there are several versions of herpes and not all of them are considered true STD’s?

There are three main kinds of the herpes virus:

  • Herpes simplex virus type one which is abbreviated as HSV-1.  It is the most common type, infecting millions of people every year and causing cold sores and blisters in and around the mouth.
  • Herpes simplex virus type two which is abbreviated as HSV-2.  This form of the herpes virus is less common and affects the genital area of the body.
  • Shingles – the last type of herpes virus is better known as shingles. It usually invades the body after chicken pox have been introduced to the body, leaving the virus dormant in the body’s cells; although shingles generally do not usually appear until adulthood.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes can be caused by either  HSV-1 and HSV-2; but, it usually comes from Type 2.   Unfortunately for its victim, any strain of the herpes virus stays in the body for the life of its victim, causing periodic outbreaks of open sores and painful blisters.  This can be especially distressing for those suffering from the types that causes genital outbreaks.

How Long After Infection Does Herpes Appear?

In most cases, a victim of  the herpes virus has no idea they have contracted the disease for weeks, or until an outbreak of blisters occurs.  Generally speaking, however, most people experience their first set of symptoms within 2-3 weeks of exposure.

Sometimes the initial outbreak is very mild, which may lead the patient to suspect another type of infection for the symptoms.  It is not until later – more serious – outbreaks occur that they suspect herpes as the cause of their discomfort. But, that is not always the case. In the vast majority of cases, the first herpes outbreak is indeed the worst, with severe pain and multiple symptoms. Later outbreaks may become less and less severe, making them much more manageable.

What a Herpes Outbreak Looks Like

During a herpes outbreak, small red bumps begin to appear throughout the genital area, accompanied by a burning sensation and intense itching.  With a few days, the blisters begin to break open (ulcerate), leaving painfully exposed open sores throughout the genitals and into the rectum. Flu like symptoms such as fever, swollen glands and aches and pains may also be present.  Most flares last about 2-3 weeks.  In an initial outbreak, it is not uncommon for the blisters to heal, only to experience a second bout of them again within a day or two.

Newly infected victims can expect to have 3-5 more outbreaks within the first year of diagnosis. The good news is that subsequent flares are generally less severe and the frequency of these outbreaks tends to lengthen over time.

Diagnosing Genital Herpes

There are two ways that a herpes diagnosis can be made.  First, your doctor will want to see the open sores and blisters during the attack.  Then he/she may order a blood test to  confirm their suspicions. If antibodies to herpes simplex virus type one or herpes simplex virus type 2 are found, a form diagnosis can be made.

Treating Herpes

Herpes is a lifelong condition that must be watched carefully.  Daily suppressive medications are usually prescribed to help keep flare-ups at bay.  Still, the virus remains active in the body and can be transmitted to a partner during intimate contact, even when there are no visible symptoms.

In addition, antiviral medications can be given during an acute attack, to help shorten its duration and make it more bearable.  Homeopathic remedies are also sued during attacks to keep the patient more comfortable. They include:

  •  Tea Tree Oil applied to the affected area
  • Epsom Salts Baths to keep the area clean and reduce itching

Herpes is Contagious!

While genital herpes can be transmitted at any time to a partner during intercourse and oral sex acts, it is most contagious when active sores are present.  It is especially important to practice safe sex during this crucial time to keep from passing it on to someone you care about.  But hr only fool proof method from not transmitting genital herpes to another is to abstain from all sexual activity.  The use of condoms can decrease the risk of transmitting genital herpes, but they are not 100% effective and can still allow this contagious disease to be spread from partner to partner.

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