Herpes

When someone says "Herpes" they are usually referring to genital herpes. Those cold sores normally occurring near and inside your mouth are generally referred to as oral herpes, while those Herpes sores occurring on and around your genitals are referred to as genital herpes.

The following are two forms of Herpes:

  • Herpes simplex-1 (HSV-1)
  • Herpes simplex-2 (HSV-2)

It was previously believed that herpes simplex-1 was causing only 30% of genital herpes cases and was primarily a herpes found around the mouth area, while herpes simplex-2 was the main culprit for genital herpes. This gave a false sense of security that herpes simplex-1was less likely to transfer to the genitals. However, a recent study of Univ. of Wisconsin Madison college students over a decade found that herpes simplex-1 was in fact the cause of 78% of all genital herpes cases. This means...

cold sores from the mouth commonly cause genital herpes through unprotected oral sex.

They also found that HSV-1 was more common in ages 16 to 21 than older ages, which puts teens at higher risk. The most scary thing is that...

the herpes simplex-1 virus is infective a couple days before a cold sore appears

so people can be shedding the virus in their saliva and have no idea that they are infectious. The reason, simplex-1 has become the main cause of genital herpes on this particular campus, may quite possibly be because people tend to use protection during intercourse but not during oral sex. Remember, any form of herpes is not curable. You may be able to decrease the frequency of flare ups (when the sores appear) with medication, but you will never be rid of the disease.

Oral Herpes

Methods of contraction
Passed through kissing and oral sex. The infection is contagious just before and during outbreaks. So, we highly recomend avoiding kissing someone with an open sore on their mouth and always using protection during oral sex.

Symptoms

  • Tingly sensations on and around the lips, followed by pimple like lesions, fever blisters or cold sores in this area.
  • Painful canker sores inside the mouth, usually in some deep recess like where the gums meet the cheek or on and around the tongue.

Oral herpes may show up at certain times in a person's life especially during emotional or physical stress. Usually symptoms such as fever blisters and cold sores become less frequent as time goes by, and may discontinue all together. Symptoms can be frequent at one time in a person's life and non-existent later in life. Stress, and failure to live a healthy life, with plenty of sleep, relaxation, exercise and a well balanced diet, could cause outbreaks to occur more frequently and more severely. Frequency and severity of outbreaks also depends on the individual. Don't freak out if you have oral herpes. It is very common, easily contracted and most often does not seriously or adversely effect one's life. But do know, that you can transmit oral herpes to the genitals of your partner.

Treatment Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy balanced meal. Exercise. Get 8 hours of sleep every night. This alone will boost your immune system and reduce the frequency of breakouts.

A cream or pill with acyclovir can be prescribed. This is used during the early phases of a breakout, as when a tingly sensation develops on or around the lips, to shorten the time in which symptoms occur.

There is no cure, but oral herpes is generally fairly harmless. Problems will develop if the virus gets in the eye. If left untreated, viral infections of the eye could travel up the optic nerve to enter the brain, so avoid touching your eyes after touching your blisters during an outbreak. If your herpes blisters show up near your eyes, see a physician immediately. They will probably prescribe medication.

Genital Herpes

An infection of the herpes simplex type 2 virus existing in every 1 in 5 Americans over 12 years of age.

Methods of contraction
Sexual contact, intercourse and commonly through oral sex. Also, newborns of mothers with genital herpes can contract a severe and often fatal brain infection during birth if the herpes is in its active form and the baby is delivered through the vagina. If the disease is in it's active form during labor, the newborn can be protected by delivery via Caesarian section.

Symptoms
usually occurring 2 to 7 days and
possibly up to 20 days after exposure

  • Itching or burning in the genital area
  • Tiny clusters of painful, fluid-filled blisters or open sores spreading around the inside and outside of the genital area, the anus, buttocks and thighs.
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Aching muscles
  • Fever
  • Recurrent outbreaks

Diagnosis
During an outbreak a cotton swab of puss is taken from the sores and cultured.

Treatment
There is no cure or vaccine. Whenever sores are present, the infection is highly contagious. It also can be contagious just prior to an outbreak. The severity and frequency of outbreaks can be reduced with the following treatments.

  • Acyclovir can be taken in pill form or applied as a cream to shorten flare-ups and to reduce symptoms.
  • ImmuVir is an over-the-counter ointment used to relieve symptoms of pain and shorten the duration of a herpes outbreak.
  • BHT found in health-food stores is not recommended because it hasn't been proven to be effective at preventing herpes outbreaks. It also has many negative side effects, including severe stomach cramps, vomiting, dizziness, and loss of consciousness.
  • Your doctor can prescribe oral medication

Reduce herpes outbreaks by avoiding...

  • Hot baths
  • Tight clothing
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Stress
  • By living a healthy life including...
  • 8 hours of sleep
  • A healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Rest & relaxation

When outbreaks occur, keep the sores clean and dry.

Women with genital herpes might be at higher risk for cervical cancer, so they must get a Pap smear at least once but preferably twice a year. Cervical cancer is easily detected at an early stage and is easily treated at this time.

Pregnant women with genital herpes can transfer the disease to the baby as it passes through the birth canal. Caesarian section should prevent transfer.

References:

"Cold sore virus is cause of new genital herpes" Reported at National STD Prevention Conference in San diego, by UW-Madison Univ. Health Services epidemiologist, Craig Roberts, and Wisonsin state Laboratory of Hygiene epidemiologist, John Pfister, 3/4/02

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