|What is Herpes?|
|How do you know if you have Herpes?|
|What to do if you have herpes|
|How to prevent outbreaks.|
Types of herpes
Herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV. HSV type 1 tends to cause sores on the lips (known as fever blisters or cold sores), but it can also infect the genitals. HSV type 2 causes sores on the genitals, but does, at times, also affect the mouth.
How it spreads
Herpes most often spreads through skin-to-skin contact with active soars. Since the virus can infect both the mouth and the genital area, it commonly spreads through sexual intercourse, oral sex, and through contact with someone who recently touched a sore. HERPES can also live on inanimate objects. While such infections are rare, you should avoid sharing a towel with a person who has an active herpes outbreak.
Sometimes people have herpes outbreaks that are not visible. Therefore, you should always use condoms when having sex with a person who has herpes, regardless of whether or not the partner has a visible outbreak.
Length and frequency
The length of an initial herpes episode is usually 2-3 weeks. After this, the virus will travel to the sensory nerves at the end of the spinal cord, where it will remain in an inactive state. In most people the virus will reactivate at times. After the first, herpes episodes usually last a day and occur at the same site as the original infection. All outbreaks of herpes are contagious.
Herpes recurrences vary in frequency and severity between person to person. Some people will only have one or two outbreaks in their life, while others may experience several attacks a year. The pattern of recurrences changes in most individuals over time. [ To Top ]
Symptoms of an initial episode of herpes usually appear 2 to 12 days after being exposed to the virus. Typical early symptoms are:
Within a few days, sores appear near where the virus has entered the body, i.e. the mouth or genital region. They also can occur inside the vagina, on the cervix, or in the urinary passage. At the beginning, small red bumps appear. These bumps then develop into blisters, and, later, become painful open sores. Over several days, the sores become crusty and then heal without leaving a scar. Some other symptoms that are associated with the first episode of genital herpes are:
IF YOU ARE HAVING DIFFICULTY URINATING, OR IF YOU EXPERIENCE PAIN WHILE URINATING, CALL YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY!!!
Because herpes can appear differently in every individual, accurate diagnosis is essential. A doctor may administer a blood test to check if the HSV is in the body. A blood test, however, will not reveal whether the individual can pass the herpes virus to another person. To determine whether herpes is contagious, the doctor will touch a cotton swab to an active legion to obtain a sample of the fluid for testing. [ To Top ]
Since herpes is contagious, it is very important to take a few precautionary steps to avoid spreading the virus:
There are several methods of minimize the pain and discomfort associated with herpes outbreaks.
There is no cure for herpes. Three drugs are currently available to help reduce the severity and frequency of the virus.
Acyclovir is a drug that can shorten the length of the initial herpes episode and make recurrences less severe. Acyclovir can be taken orally and must be taken with 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. Acyclovir has uncommon side effects including headaches, nausea, and diarrhea.
Famciclovir is a drug that is used to treat recurrences and prevent future outbreaks. Famciclovir reduces the amount of pain and the length of the recurrences. The side effects of famciclovir are mild with headache and nausea being most commonly reported.
Valacyclovir is a third drug that helps soars heal faster and reduces both the period of pain and the contagious period of the virus. In clinical tests, valacyclovir prevented the development of blisters in one third more patients who took the drug within 24 hours of noticing the first symptoms of the outbreak, compared to those who took a placebo (dummy pill) (3).
Some people use organic interventions to treat herpes. Two of the most commonly used are L-lysine and red marine algae. L-lysine is an amino acid that is found naturally in some foods. L-lysine is thought to slow the replication of HSV, especially HSV1. To maximize the efficiency of this amino acid, 500 mg (miligrams) to 1,000 mg should be taken on an empty stomach, and the intake of foods such as nuts, seeds, peas, and chocolate should be reduced. The second uses red marine algae. In some lab tests, red marine algae has been shown to inhibit herpes virus, however definitive tests to evaluate this intervention in humans are lacking (4).
Though we do not know what causes the outbreaks, recurrences are thought to be triggered by:
While outbreaks are never predictable, the number of outbreaks can be reduced through:
Herpes can be spread to an infant during birth. The risk is greatest in babies whose mother contracts HSV during the final trimester of birth. The virus can be spread to a child through:
If the mother contracted the HSV virus before pregnancy, she will rarely pass the virus to her child. Regardless of when a woman is first infected, if she has herpes and is pregnant she should see a doctor.
1 Adapted from http://www.4woman.gov/faq/stdherpe.htm
2 Adapted from http://www.niaid.nih.gov/factsheets/stdherp.htm
3 Adapted from http://www.herpesalliance.org/resources03.asp
4 Adapted from http://www.drweil.com/qa_answer/0,3189,8,00.html [ To Top ]