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Herpes: What is It, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Home > Blogs > Herpes: What is It, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Herpes: What is It, Symptoms, Causes & Treatment

Dermatology | by Dr. Poonam Jalan | Published on 19/04/2024


Have you noticed sores in your genital or oral regions? If so, it's crucial to schedule an appointment with healthcare professionals at The Calcutta Medical Research Institute in Kolkata. These symptoms are primary indicators of herpes, also known as the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. According to WHO research, approximately 67% of the global population under 50 experiences oral or genital herpes, with HSV-1 being more prevalent. 

Around 13% of individuals aged 15 to 49 experience HSV-2. While there's no cure for herpes, antiviral medications and home remedies can alleviate symptoms. If you're eager to learn more about herpes, its symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment options, this article is for you. We'll delve deep into every aspect of the herpes condition. We will discuss everything related to herpes condition in this blog. However, please note that this is research-based information and we do not construe the doctor’s consultation in any way.

What is herpes? 

Herpes, a viral infection, is also referred to as herpes simplex virus or HSV, causing herpes in the genital and oral area. HSV is among the common conditions, but due to a lot of stigma around it, people who have this feel embarrassed. Most people live with this condition without even noticing the symptoms (asymptomatic). It simply means that they are infected with the virus but there have been no flare-ups or herpes active incidents. Some people experience irregular occurrences of small sores or blisters filled with fluid. 

Usually, these blisters affect areas like the genitals, mouth, or lips. However, they can still occur on other body parts like fingers, or hands. Herpes are sexually transmissible and there are different ways it can spread as well. 

Are there any types of herpes? 

Yes, there are two main types of herpes according to the best dermatologists in Kolkata which are: 

  • HSV-1: In this type, patients often experience oral herpes, determined by fever blisters or cold sores appearing across the patient’s face, or on their mouth. 
  • HSV-2: This type mainly affects the genital area involving sores that occur on the areas like inner thighs, buttocks, anus, and genitals. These sores can also grow inside the female’s vagina. 

Most people who have this condition often is affected by type 1 i.e. HSV-1, as it is easily transmissible when people come into oral-to-genital touch. HSV-2 is less common causing oral episodes, or cold sores, however, it can also occur often in some individuals. 

What are herpes symptoms? 

Herpes doesn't cause symptoms to everyone. If they occur, their seriousness often depends on whether the patient is experiencing a recurrent or primary infection. Conversing about the primary infection symptoms, it typically appears from a few days to weeks after coming into contact with an infected person.

Here are some of the common symptoms of herpes that one needs to be mindful of: 

  • Frequent body aches and pains 
  • Appetite loss 
  • Sores on the genital area 
  • Pain while urinating 
  • Cold sores around the lips, tongue, or mouth
  • Fever 
  • Headache 
  • Throbbing pain in the infection area 
  • Swollen lymph nodes 
  • Fatigue or unusual exhaustion

Some people also notice the feeling of burning, tingling, or itching in the infection area before painful or small blisters occur. 

What causes herpes? 

One of the main causes of herpes spread is coming into contact with an infected person. This virus is often found in the saliva and skin of a person who has HSV. So, if you have this condition, chances are you can transmit the virus to other people especially if you have sores. However, it is important to note that even if you don’t have symptoms, you are most likely to pass this virus. This phenomenon is known as asymptomatic viral shedding according to health experts. 

Now, let’s find out what other causes of herpes or HSV-1 and HSV-2 transmission are:

HSV-1 transmission

People who have been diagnosed with herpes, chances are they contracted it through: 

  • Sharing food items or cosmetics like lip balms or razors 
  • Having sexual intercourse with someone with cold sores transmits herpes infection to the genital area 
  • Kissing 
  • Touch an infected person’s skin 

HSV-2 transmission

People who have HSV-2, they might have contracted the virus through: 

  • Oral sexual intimacy with an infected individual 
  • Anal, vaginal-penile, or vaginal-vaginal sexual intercourse 
  • Coming into sexual contact through skin-to-skin without ejaculation
  • Giving birth to a child by an infected mother or gestational parent 
  • Open sores touching even when breastfeeding 

How is herpes diagnosed? 

A healthcare professional diagnoses herpes by assessing the blisters in certain cases. They also evaluate the condition by determining the symptoms of a patient such as flu-like symptoms or early signs of herpes, such as burning or tingling. 

To confirm the diagnosis, usually dermatologists in Kolkata order a culture test which comprises taking fluid from the sore and further sending it to the lab. 

For people who have been exposed to the virus but are asymptomatic, a blood test can help in identifying the HSV antibodies. It is vital to remember that the tests are accurate after 12 weeks of acquiring the virus. If a person suspects that he/she might have the virus, then it is essential to ask the doctor for general STI screenings. 

What are the options available for herpes treatment? 

Healthcare professionals are yet to discover the herpes cure. However, several treatment options assist in relieving the symptoms for a patient. Here are some of these options:


Blisters that appear as a result of herpes usually improve on their own without needing clinical treatment. But, if someone is experiencing a serious or regular occurrence of herpes, then a healthcare expert often prescribes antiviral medications. These medications benefit in reducing the episode number of herpes and offer comfort from the symptoms. Some of the antiviral medications recommended are famciclovir, acyclovir, valacyclovir, and foscarnet for HSV infections resisting other medications. Antiviral medications also assist in decreasing the probability of spreading the herpes virus during an occurrence or shedding when an individual doesn’t have any symptoms. These medications are available in creams or pill forms. The doctor may also suggest medication injections for serious symptoms. 

Home remedies 

Several home remedies are there that help ease the pain and discomfort caused by herpes blisters. Here is what you can try to find relief from sores:

  • Use a crushed garlic mixture 
  • Apply olive oil or aloe vera gel to the sores
  • A warm or cold compression 
  • Baking soda paste or water or cornstarch 
  • Eucalyptus or peppermint oil 
  • Tea tree oil 
  • Bathing in light-salted water 
  • Wear loose clothing 

What are the prevention tips for herpes?

Here are some tips that can help in eliminating the risk of developing or contracting herpes:

  • Make sure to use protection like condoms while having sexual intercourse 
  • Sexual intercourse should be avoided if symptoms are present 
  • Avoid oral intercourse or kissing if you have cold cores around the mouth 
  • Wash hands frequently, primarily after coming into contact with the infected area


Herpes is a viral infection that is also known as herpes simplex virus or HSV. It is a lifelong condition, once a person has it. It causes certain outbreaks or periods of symptoms, but there are times when there is no presence of symptoms even when herpes exists. One of the primary early signs of herpes is sores appearing on the infected area. If symptoms are not severe, some people don’t consider treatment. However, healthcare professionals generally recommend taking antiviral medications to reduce the probability of any complications in the future. If you have herpes or believe that you are exposed to herpes, don’t get apprehensive, just make sure to work with your healthcare expert. He/she will convey the effective course of treatment for you. 



Is herpes dangerous?

Herpes is not a life-threatening condition but is believed to be extremely dangerous for females who are pregnant.

Is herpes curable?

There is no cure available for herpes as of now, but there are treatment options that help in managing the symptoms effectively.

Can herpes kill you? 

No, herpes isn’t deadly but can be painful and annoying as once a person has it, the probability of recurrent infection increases. 

Is herpes contagious? 

Yes, herpes is transmissible through skin-to-skin touch, saliva, or sexual intercourse.