Defining Herpes Simplex

Defining Herpes Simplex

Herpes is a common viral infection among most human beings. It can vary from oral herpes, cold sores or fever blisters, and genital herpes – genital sores or any sores below the waist. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections have afflicted mankind throughout most of recorded history. The earliest references of this skin disease dates back to the 5th century B.C. Genital HSV infections were first mentioned and described in detail in the 18th century. Both oral and genital HSV infections continue to plague people throughout the world. The herpes simplex virus requires a moist environment for survival. Human-to-human spread is the only known mode of transmission.

Most people of all ages are vulnerable of contacting herpes simplex type 1. This virus can be spread by skin-to-skin contact from an adult who carries the virus. An adult does not need to have sores to spread the virus. A person usually gets HSV-2 (herpes simplex type 2) through sexual contact. About 20% of sexually active adults in the United States carry HSV-2. Some people are more likely to get HSV-2 than others. These people are:

  • Mostly female
  • Have had many sex partners
  • Had sex for the first time at a young age
  • Have (or had) another sexually transmitted infection
  • Have a weakened immune system due to a disease or medicine
  • When people develop their first case of herpes simplex on their face from the virus, they will experience symptoms such a sore throat, sore and tender mouth, and fever. The glands in the neck will swell and there can be a breakout of small blisters that are filled with fluid, painful and itchy. However, the blisters may not always appear, making it hard for people to realize that the herpes simplex virus is responsible. Blisters will cause a red group of lesions that can spread over the entire region in genital herpes. Numbness can occur, and it may be hard to urinate. The glands that exist in the groin can become swollen, and there can also be a fever present.

    Herpes simplex virus cannot be cured since medications that treat it it will also cause futher damage the nerve cells where the virus is living. Outbreaks of the disease can be treated with anti-viral medications such as Acyclovir, which can bring down the reproductive powers of the simplex virus in the first outbreaks, making future outbreaks fewer in number. It must be utilized as soon as the first signs of herpes appear. Topical ointments that are anti-bacterial in nature can help to stop any infections that may occur in the blisters as they break open. People with a herpes outbreak should wear loose-fitting clothing to be more comfortable, and should avoid hot temperatures. It is important to keep the infected region clean and dry. The sores should not be touched, and if they are, the person needs to wash their hands. Over-the-counter painkillers can deal with the associated discomfort.

    Herpes simplex can be prevented from spreading by making sure that sores on the body are not touched. Someone with herpes simplex should avoid having sexual intercourse when they are having an outbreak or are experiencing the tingling and itching that can take place just before an outbreak. Condoms should be used to minimize the risk of spreading the disease to a sexual partner, since the virus can be transmitted to another even when no symptoms manifest themselves. It is not advisable for someone with the herpes simplex virus to share items such as towels or eating utensils with other people. Pregnant women with the herpes simplex virus can pass it on to their newborn infants, but doctors can avoid this by using precautions as long as they are aware of the situation.

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