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Herpes: Causes, Symptoms, Stages of Herpes, Transmission of Herpes, Diagnosis, Treatment

Jul 13, 2023

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Causes Of Herpes

Symptoms of Herpes

Stages Of Herpes

How Herpes Is Transmitted?

Can We Distinguish Types Of Herpes Based On Location Of Symptoms?

Diagnosis Of  Herpes

Treatment Of Herpes

Medication

Herpes Causes, Symptoms, Stages of Herpes, Transmission of Herpes, Diagnosis, Treatment

The term "herpes" refers to a family of viruses that produce painful blisters and sores. Herpes zoster, which causes shingles and chickenpox, is one of the most prevalent viruses.

There are 2 types of herpes virus Types 1 and 2 of the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

Cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth are typically caused by type 1 and Genital (sexual organ) sores are typically caused by type 2.

A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is genital herpes. Once you are infected, you will always be infected with the herpes virus.


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Causes Of Herpes

Typically, vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse is how the genital herpes virus is passed from one person to another. Through a skin break, the virus can enter your body. The skin of the mouth, penis, vagina, urinary tract opening, or anus are other entry points for it.

When blisters or sores are visible on the affected individual, herpes is most readily transmitted. However, it can spread at any time, even while the herpes sufferer is symptom-free. Additionally, herpes can spread from one area of the body to another. 

You can spread the virus to others if you contact with sores on your genitalia. Afterward, you can transfer it to other areas of your body, such as your mouth or eyes.

Symptoms of Herpes

Many herpes patients never experience any symptoms. Mild symptoms might occasionally be confused for another skin condition. Genital herpes symptoms can include:

  • Painful sores on the buttocks, thighs, anus, or genital region
  • Itching
  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Groin lumps that are tender
  • You might encounter flu-like symptoms during the initial outbreak (known as primary herpes). These consist of headaches, fever, and bodily aches. 

Herpes infections frequently cause flare-ups of symptoms and sores in its victims. Usually, symptoms are not as bad as the initial outbreak. Over time, outbreaks also have a tendency to happen less frequently.

Stages Of Herpes

You will experience various stages of illness once the virus has invaded the body.

  • Primary Stage- 2 to 8 days after infection, you enter the stage. Typically, the infection results in clusters of tiny, uncomfortable blisters. The region under the blisters will be red, and the fluid within the blisters may be clear or hazy. The blisters eventually rupture and develop into open sores. Urinating at this phase could be uncomfortable. Most people experience pain during the initial stages of infection, but some people experience none at all. They might not even be aware that they are afflicted.
  • Latent Stage- Blisters, sores, or any other signs are absent in the latent stage. The virus is moving from the skin into the nerves.
  • Shedding Stage- The virus begins to replicate in the nerve terminals during the shedding stage. The virus can enter body fluids if these nerve terminals are located in body parts that produce or come into touch with bodily fluids. Saliva, semen, or vaginal fluids may be included in this. Although there are no symptoms at this point, the infection can still propagate. This implies that herpes is highly contagious at this stage.

How Herpes Is Transmitted?

Typically, vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse is how the genital herpes virus is passed from one person to another. Through a skin break, the virus can enter your body. The skin of your mouth, penis, vagina, urinary tract opening, or anus are other entry points for it.

When blisters or sores are visible on the affected individual, herpes is most readily transmitted. However, it can spread at any time, even while the herpes sufferer is symptom-free. Additionally, herpes can spread from one area of your body to another. You can spread the virus to others if you contact with sores on your genitalia. Afterward, you can transfer it to other areas of your body, such as your mouth or eyes.

Can We Distinguish Types Of Herpes Based On Location Of Symptoms?

No matter what type of virus you have or where it manifests, you'll probably observe identical blisters and prodromal symptoms. The DNA of the two distinct HSV strains is identical.

The location of your symptoms is, of course, the only significant difference:

When urinating, you could experience pain or burning if HSV has affected your genitals.

You could find it challenging to eat spicy or acidic meals while you have open sores if HSV affects your mouth.

Depending on whether they are primary or recurring, oral blisters may also manifest in a somewhat different location. Blisters may occur on your mouth and lips during the first episode, but in following episodes, they're more likely to do so at the lip's edge.

Diagnosis Of  Herpes

A physician or clinician may occasionally be able to identify HSV by looking at the blisters. They could inquire about further symptoms, such as flu-like signs and symptoms as well as early warning indicators like tingling or burning.

To confirm the diagnosis, they'll probably ask for a culture. For a culture, fluid from the sore is swabbed and sent to a lab for analysis.

A blood test can reveal whether you have HSV antibodies if you think you may have been exposed to HSV but aren't experiencing any symptoms. 

Just be aware that HSV may not be adequately detected by blood testing until 12 weeks after you've contracted the infection.

HSV testing is often not included in general STI screenings, so if you think you could be infected with the virus, talk to your doctor or clinician about getting tested.

A home testing kit allows one to check their own HSV antibody levels. 

Treatment Of Herpes

Herpes has no known treatment at this time. However, a number of therapies can help you feel better.

The following are some HSV treatments.

Medication

Usually, blisters heal on their own, without the need for medical attention. However, a physician or clinician can recommend antiviral drugs if you encounter severe or frequent outbreaks. Antivirals can lessen the frequency and severity of your episodes as well as your symptoms.

Options include:

  • Acyclovir
  • Famciclovir
  • Valacyclovir 
  • Foscarnet, or cidofovir can be used to treat HSV infections that are resistant to other treatments 

Antiviral drugs may reduce the possibility that you will become infected with the virus when you are symptom-free or during an episode.

There is no proof that using antivirals if you don't have HSV will reduce your risk of getting the infection.

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