Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the virus HSV, Herpes Simplex Virus. It is an infection that causes sores on your mouth or genitals. Though painful, it usually doesn’t lead to complications. The Herpes virus tends to stay in the body once infected and although there is no cure for the condition it is manageable through medication. Few people carrying the virus may not present any symptoms but could transfer the infection to their partner through sexual contact.
Types of Herpes Virus
The herpes virus causes sores to appear on the mouth or genitals in usual cases but could also appear on other parts of the body. There are 2 types of herpes virus
HSV – 1: This virus causes oral herpes, the symptoms of which are cold sores and blisters around the mouth.
HSV – 2: This virus is responsible for genital herpes and causes sores on the genitals, pain while urinating, ulcers and cold sores
After becoming infected, a person may present the initial symptoms after an average period of 4 days after which the symptoms tend to recur intermittently, commonly referred to as outbreaks. Over time, the symptoms may remain dormant for long periods of time and are also less severe. The symptoms include blisters or sores on the genitals, vagina or cervix, vaginal discharge, pain while urinating, itching and cold sores on the mouth.
The HSV virus is contagious and can spread through contact. Children can also get infected by the virus by early contact with infected adults. HSV- 1 can be spread through contact with the infected person’s saliva that could happen through kissing, sharing utensils or lipstick and so on. This virus is more potent when an infected person has an outbreak. HSV- 2 virus is contracted through any sexual contact with an infected person.
HSV virus can spread to other parts of the body through non-sexual ways too; through a cut or rash on the skin, a casual peck on the lips from an infected parent to the child can spread oral herpes, genital herpes can be spread from a mother to a child during vaginal delivery.
It is important to note that there is no cure for herpes, although the conditions could be managed through medication such as an antiviral. The antiviral helps by reducing the severity of the symptoms and clear up the outbreak faster. This is generally prescribed during the first outbreak of the disease as subsequent outbreaks are less intense.
In order to avoid contracting or spreading the disease it is advisable to always use condoms during intercourse and refrain from any sexual contact especially during an outbreak. Some triggers like stress, friction against skin from wearing tight clothes could be avoided to reduce the frequency of the outbreak.