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What Is Herpes?

Herpes or herpes simplex virus (HSV) is a sexually transmitted disease which can spread through saliva, genital fluid, or skin in the oral or genital area of the individual with herpes infection. HSV can be common in people who are sexually active.

While most people may be unaware of the herpes symptoms, HSV commonly leads to sores or blisters to form in or around the mouth or genitals along with other symptoms. Based on the origin of the virus, there are two types of herpes:

What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes?

Herpes symptoms can be mild to moderate depending on the severity of the infection. In some patients, herpes may be asymptomatic and may not require a clinical diagnosis. Depending on the type of herpes, patients with oral herpes may experience symptoms like:

  • Cold sores
  • Itching, burning, or tingling around lips, mouth, or tongue.
  • Fever
  • Blisters on or around the mouth

On the other hand, genital herpes symptoms are characterised by blisters around the genitals, rectum, or mouth. The blisters may burst into small painful sores which can last for 2 to 4 weeks. Additional symptoms also include:

  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Headache
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • painful urination
  • eye infection

What Causes Herpes?

The primary cause of herpes is associated with the herpes simplex virus which is transmitted through oral or genital secretions on the skin. Depending on the herpes type, the disease can be transmitted orally through kissing, sharing toothbrushes or utensils, etc.

or during sexual contact. HSV-1 is transmitted orally whereas HSV-2 is contracted through genital fluids. The HSV can pass easily from an infected person through contact via mouth and genitals including the anus. Here are some ways in which infection can occur:

  • Engaging in vaginal or anal sex without using protection such as a condom
  • Sharing sex toys
  • Kissing
  • Having oral or genital contact with a person having herpes

How Is Herpes Diagnosed?

The doctor often examines the rashes and blisters on the skin to determine the condition. The appearance is often a common indication of HSV and no further tests are required. However, if the doctor is still not convinced, there are certain lab tests including DNA tests, PCR tests and virus cultures, which can rule out other disorders.

What Are The Treatment Methods For Herpes?

There are different treatment methods for herpes to manage the symptoms and get rid of discomfort. Herpes treatment includes medications that can decrease the pain and shorten the healing time. In addition, there are several home remedies that can relieve herpes symptoms.

But doctors often advise people with herpes to seek professional help before turning to home remedies. The following measures can help you manage herpes symptoms at home:

  • Taking sitz bath
  • Bathing in lightly salted water
  • Squirting water from a bottle or bidet onto blisters to ease the pain while urinating
  • Using aloe vera gel for sores
  • Applying cream, or lotion like petroleum jelly to the urethra and other affected areas such as one that contains lidocaine.
  • Wearing loose clothes to avoid irritation.
  • Refraining from having sex even with protection.

There are certain medicines and drugs which can prevent the infection from growing. Antiviral drugs and creams often manage tingling sensations, itching, and pain. Regularly taking these medications can significantly reduce the risk of spreading herpes.

What are the ways to prevent herpes?

Use the following strategies to prevent herpes:

  • Use protection while engaging in sexual activity.
  • Avoid sex while the symptoms are present.
  • Avoid kissing and oral sex when there is a cold sore around the mouth.
  • Maintain good hygiene by washing hands thoroughly, especially after touching affected areas.


Can I still have sex if I have herpes?

A person with herpes should not have sex since it can pose a risk of infection to the partner. You must inform your partner in case you are suffering from herpes before engaging in any sexual activity.

Can I get HIV if I have HSV?

While there is no direct relation between HSV and HIV, a person is at an increased risk of contracting HIV (around 2 to 4 times). Genital herpes can cause breaks in the skin and make a person more vulnerable to HIV infection.

Are there any complications of untreated herpes?

If left untreated, genital herpes can cause possible complications such as:

  • Bladder problems
  • Meningitis
  • Rectal inflammation
  • Newborn infection (in the case of women)
  • Other sexually transmitted diseases

When should I consult the doctor for my herpes treatment?

Consult the doctor for HSV if you are experiencing symptoms of genital herpes or any other sexually transmitted infection.


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