Herpes is a common infection generally transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. There are several strains of the Herpes Virus, two of these strains commonly cause genital herpes. You can have oral herpes (on the lips, most often ‘cold sores’), genital herpes (on the genitals) or non-genital herpes (herpes on other parts of the body; most often ‘shingles’). Shingles is not sexually transmitted. It is a secondary event long after the initial infection with common ‘chicken pox’. Shinglesis usually a one-off occurrence.
Types of Herpes
There are two types of the Herpes Simplex Virus, HSV-1 and HSV-2.
- HSV-1 is the virus that most commonly causes cold sores on the lips or face. It is often transmitted in childhood through kissing, but can be transmitted at any age. HSV-1 can also be transmitted to the genitals through direct skin-to-skin contact.
- HSV-2 is the virus responsible for most genital herpes and is most commonly transmitted through sexual contact. Genital herpes is an STD (Sexually Transmitted Disease) caused by the herpes simplex viruses type 1 (HSV-1) or type 2 (HSV-2).60 per cent are unaware that they have it, but have symptoms, while another 20 per cent have no symptoms. 20 per cent are aware that they have the virus
Symptoms of Herpes
Most people with genital herpes have no noticeable symptoms and do not realise they have come into contact with the virus. They may only notice symptoms at a later date. For others, the first Symptoms of Genital Herpes may show up 2 to 21 days after coming into contact with the virus. This first episode of herpes is often the most severe. When you first come into contact with the virus your immune system has not had time to develop protective antibodies. This means the virus can multiply rapidly, causing significant symptoms.
Lymph nodes (the glands in your groin, neck and armpit) are swollen, or that you have flu-like symptoms such as sore muscles, tiredness, headaches, fever and chills. You may notice swelling, pain or itching around the genitals, possibly followed by painful red spots that can form small blisters. These blisters may burst to form open sores or ulcers, which crust over and heal. You may also experience pain when urinating due to the tenderness in your genital area.
Herpes of the anus or rectum may also result in rectal and lower back pain, an urgent need to pass faeces, bloody or mucus discharge, constipation and blisters on the skin area around the anus. Symptoms will heal within 2 to 4 weeks and cause no long-term damage.
Re-occurrences of Herpes
The virus stays in the body for life. Some people do not have any further episodes or symptoms of herpes. This is called inactive infection, when the virus is hidden in the body and not infectious.
However, the symptoms of genital herpes do recur in some people. These outbreaks tend to be milder and heal faster than the first outbreak. This is called an active infection. The active period may be obvious, with symptoms, or it may not. It is possible that symptoms are not obvious, or not present at all, but skin cells are shedding the virus during an active phase. This “viral shedding” may be potentially infectious to others if sexual contact occurs.
Diagnosis of Herpes
Diagnostic tests available each having varying degrees of accuracy, these tests range from swabbing a herpes blister or sore, to a blood test.
Treatment of Herpes
There is no treatment for herpes to date. Supporting your immune system should be your first goal. A weakened immune system is more prone to outbreaks. Simple pain relievers such as aspirin may relieve most discomfort caused by genital herpes pain. The FDA approves Famvir as the first one-day treatment for genital herpes and cold sores. Don’t take any medicine without consultation of doctor, medicine do have side effects