Herpes is a disease caused by herpes simplex virus. In fact, many people thought herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. But herpes is not just being sexually transmitted disease, it can be transmitted when sharing an environment with someone who has an infection as well, for example sharing food or utensils. Usually, herpes may not produce obvious symptoms during an infection. Thus, it is easy to miss.
Type of Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes simplex virus is categorized into two types: herpes type 1 (HSV1) and herpes type 2 (HSV2). Most commonly, herpes type 1 causes sores around the mouth and lips which we called cold sores. Thus, herpes type 1 can be called oral herpes. Herpes-type 2 causes sores around genitals or rectums. This is why herpes type 2 can be called genital herpes. However, herpes type 1 can cause genital herpes as well especially when someone who has herpes type 1 infection gives oral sex to his/her partner. This will cause his/her partner to have type 1 herpes infection in the genital region.
Signs and Symptoms of Herpes Infection
- Itching or tingling sensation around mouth/lips or genital areas
- Pain during urination if having genital sores
- Fever or swollen lymph nodes
- Headache or body ache
Usually, someone with herpes infection will feel tingling or itching at the infected area before the blister is formed. The blister may often rupture leaving painful sores/ulcers.
How is Herpes Diagnosed?
The appearance of herpes simplex virus infection is typical. Thus, healthcare personal can diagnose herpes infection based on the clinical examination itself. However, lab tests need to be sent to confirm the diagnosis. Usually, a swab sample or blood can be sent to a lab for DNA or PCR testing.
How is Herpes Simplex Treated?
There is no cure for herpes at the moment but with treatment, it can relieve the symptoms. Antiviral will be used for example, acyclovir in oral or topical form. Medications can help to decrease the pain and shorten the healing time. Even though there is no cure for herpes infection but herpes simplex virus won’t cause life-threatening events. However, someone who has gotten herpes infection will have a few flare-up episodes during his/her lifetime. You can take lysine with vitamin C to prevent or reduce the herpes flare-up episodes.
How can Herpes be Prevented?
Transmission of the virus can be significantly reduced if sexual activity is avoided during a flare where ulcers and lesions are clearly seen. Besides this, those who have a cold sore at the mouth/lip must avoid sharing food or utensils with others. All of these are able to help to reduce the herpes transmission rate. Usually, the transmission rate is lower when a person is in a dormant infection state.
Complications of Herpes Infection
When someone with genital herpes contact with HIV, it will increase the risk of HIV virus entry to the body through genital ulcer or sores. In pregnant women, it is possible that herpes virus is transmitted from the mother to the fetus. This will increase the risk of miscarriage or premature delivery. Besides this, if the virus is directly infecting the fetus, it increases the chances of congenital herpes infection in the newborn.