Caused by herpes simplex virus, Herpes or herpes simplex is a common disease that many people are not aware of. The word herpes is a Greek word and it means latent or creeping and like the word suggests, the disease can remain latent in the infected person. Many people may never have the symptoms even though they carry the virus. Although it is not a serious health threat, the infection can result in painful, cold blisters near mouth and/or genitals. There are two herpes simplex virus types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Around 60 percent to 95 percent adults across the world have either HSV-1 or HSV-2. (ALSO READ What are STDs: All you need to know about types, causes and prevention of STDs and STIs).Also Read - New Covid-19 Travel Rules: Maharashtra Vs Center Covid Guidelines For Domestic, International Air Travellers | Checkout Details
What is herpes?
Herpes is a viral infection caused by herpes simplex virus. HSV-1 and HSV-2 are the two types of virus that causes the infection. HSV-1 is more common and is responsible for the blisters near the mouth whereas HSV-2 infection results in genital blisters. The infection is categorized according to the body part that is infected. If a person’s genital is infected then it is known as genital infection and if the mouth is infected then it is called oral herpes. Genital infection is also categorized as sexually transmitted infection (STI). It is spread via direct contact with the infected person’s lesion or body fluid. Sometimes, the infected person doesn’t show any symptom but he/she can infect another person. An infant can get infected during birth. The virus, after infection, gets transported to the nerve cell bodies and it remains there latent lifelong. Also Read - Omicron Variant Latest Update: Should Pregnant Women Be Worried About New Covid-19 Mutations? Fortis Doctor Explains
What are the causes of herpes?
The herpes infection is caused by the two types of herpes simplex virus. Children are usually infected by HSV-1 when they come in contact with an infected individual. It causes oral herpes. The infection is spread by using same utensils, kissing and sharing a lip balm. HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes if an infected person with mouth blisters perform oral sex. The HSV-2 virus causes genital herpes and it is transmitted through sexual contact. Many people with genital herpes do not realize that they are infected as they are asymptomatic. (ALSO READ How to wear a condom: Step-by-step guide to using a male condom correctly!). Also Read - World Aids Day 2021: Common Myths And Beliefs About HIV And AIDS Debunked | Watch Video
What are the symptoms of herpes?
In many cases, there may not be any visible symptoms but they can still transmit the infection. They remain asymptomatic for months or sometimes years after infection. Some of the common symptoms are pain during urination, blisters near mouth and/or genitals, redness and itching. You may also experience flu like symptoms like headaches, fever, fatigue, vaginal discharge, red blisters on the skin, swollen lymph nodes and decreased appetite. The symptoms usually appear around four days after the exposure. The infection can spread to other organs of your body. It can lead to herpes of the eyes called herpes keratitis and is causes eye discharge, pain and gritty feeling.
Many people have recurrent infections after the initial herpes infection and its symptoms include cold sores near mouth, ulceration or blisters on the cervix in women, burning sensation around genitals and red blisters. Eventually, the frequency of the infections becomes less and the symptoms are not severe.
What are the treatments available for herpes?
There is no treatment available to cure this viral infection. Doctors prescribe medications to get rid of the symptoms and to limit the spread of the infection. Antiviral drugs restrict multiplication of virus and reduce the symptoms. The symptoms can disappear without any medication but you need to consult your doctor for proper treatment. Medications like valacyclovir and famciclovir are given to patients to lower the chances of an outbreak and reduce the severity of the symptoms.
You can also try some home remedies to treat the symptoms. Taking bath in salted water, refraining from sexual activities, avoiding restrictive cloths, washing hands frequently and taking pain killers will help you.
How can you prevent herpes infection?
You can lower the risk of getting genital herpes by using a condom. An infected person can also limit the spread of the infection by taking antiviral medication. The most effective way to prevent the infection is to refrain from oral, vaginal and anal sex.