What is Herpes?


The first time I went to the doctor with my lips all covered with blisters and vesicles the only thing I have on my mind was “what is herpes and how to get rid herpes?” I immediately asked to the doctor if there was a definitive cure for herpes and this is what he answered to me: “Unfortunately dear, there is not a definitive cure for the herpes virus, because it infect neurons and hide in the ganglion system. This means that no drug can effectively remove it. You have to leave with it.”

Not everyone will tell you that a lot of viruses, even the dangerous ones, can be put in a stage where they are completely dormant and be completely harmless to the infected person. The first thing to know to make sure herpes will not recur is to understand what is herpes, how it develops, which are the causes, the symptoms and what types of herpes exists.

The herpes virus presents as blisters or vesicles on the skin. It is considered a highly contagious infection and in some cases a very painful one. The virus can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact. In the majority of the cases the virus is transmitted through sexual activities, kisses or just touching someone else. However, it is possible to get infected through toothbrushes, towels, glasses, napkins, lipsticks, cutlery or any object that may have been in contact with an infected person.

Before I can talk you about the cure for the herpes it is very important to understand what kind of herpes exists. There are diverse type of herpes but the most common are:

Herpes labialis – this type is caused by the herpes simplex virus and causes the formation of vesicles on the lips and in some cases on the nose, nares, mouth or around the lips. This small fluid-filled sacs causes itchiness, pain and a strong inflammation of the area infected.

Genital herpes – genital herpes is caused from an infection of the herpes simplex virus and can affect area such as genitals, glutei, anus and in some cases (after oral sex for example) mouth and lips. The symptoms are the same as for herpes labialis: small fluid-filled sacs which cause itchiness and pain on the area affected.

Herpes zoster – this kind of herpes virus is the same behind chickenpox infections. The herpes zoster causes the formation of a high quantity of blisters on the back or chest, sometimes on the neck and hips. This skin rash often comes with fever, headaches and general pain.

The herpes virus tends to manifest during period of intense stress or when our immune system is weaker. When you get infected it is very important not to touch the infected areas, until the blisters start forming a crust and a scab will appear. Only after that the risk of transmission will be much lower.

What if I tell you that you can avoid to suffer from herpes?

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Herpes Simplex

The herpes simplex virus or HSV is the reason behind the formation of herpes on your body.

The most common types are the herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and the herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2). The HSV-1 is the cause of oral herpes, herpes labialis, cold sores and all the herpes that manifest on or near the mouth. In some cases this type of herpes can spread on the nose or on the cheeks. The herpes simplex 1 can also causes genital herpes when an infected mouth comes in contact with genitals. Normally, it is the herpes simplex 2 that causes the formation of herpes on private parts.

As just mentioned, HSV-2 is the reason behind the formation of genital herpes. This virus manifests on genitals (penis and vagina) but also on the anus on glutes.

The herpes simplex usually manifests on the body when the immune system is weakened. When this happen it is more likely that the virus, which stays dormant inside the body, will show on your skin. Here below you can find the situation that may trigger the virus to manifests:

  • very high or low temperature
  • fever
  • menstruation
  • stress
  • seasonal changes
  • when sick

How do you get herpes?

The herpes simplex virus is transmitted through direct or indirect contact with an infected person. Usually, the virus enters inside the body through cuts, abrasions or scratches on the skin. The moment when the virus is the most contagious is when there are fluid-filled blisters on the skin. The herpes simplex 1 is transmitted through saliva and through contact with the infected area. The easiest way to get this type of herpes is kissing an infected person.

The herpes simplex 2 is transmitted through sexual activities with or without penetration. Since sometimes the virus does not show any symptoms, it is very important to be careful when interacting with a new partner. This is because even if the virus is dormant inside there is still a high risk to transmit the virus through saliva, sperm or any other body fluid.

Another very common way to transmit the herpes virus is in the case of pregnancy. At the moment of birth, the mother can infected the child, and this is more likely if the infection is occurring.

Recent studies have found that in the 62% of the American population has contracted the herpes simplex 1 during adolescence. Regarding herpes simplex 2, women are more exposed to the virus. It has been found that about 1 in 4 women have HSV-2, compared to 1 in 8 men. This is because female genital system is structured to keep inside the sperm and facilitate the conception. However, this structure facilitate also a higher exposition to sexual transmitted diseases and this case of the herpes simplex.

Herpes simplex symptoms:

Usually the first herpes outbreak is the strongest because the body has not experienced before the manifestation of the virus. During time outbreaks will become less strong. There are few symptoms that can make you aware of an upcoming outbreak. In the case of herpes simplex 1 you may experience a tingling sensation or itchiness on the mouth or nose, fever or sore throat. In the case of herpes simplex 2 usually the first symptom is a tingling sensation in the genital area or on glutes and thighs. In women there may be also vaginal discharge. In some cases it is possible to experience fever, headache, muscles aches, swollen lymph glands in the groin and painful urination.

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Herpes Labialis

Herpes labialis or cold sores is an infection that causes the formation of small blisters on the lips and on the area around them. These blisters can easily spread inside the mouth and the nose. The infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and in some cases the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). I know you may think that only the herpes simplex 1, which is behind oral herpes, could be the cause for the herpes labialis, but also the herpes simplex 2 in some specific cases can cause the formation of blisters on the lips or around them.

Herpes labialis symptoms:

Before the virus manifests with blisters, the first symptom is sore, itchiness and the redness of the skin. After few days, you can notice the formation of small fluid-filled blisters (the fluid will become more yellow as the time passes). When the blisters explodes, they will leave on the skin small crusts, which will remain on the skin for about seven to ten days. The manifestation of herpes labialis can cause in some cases fever or headache.

What causes Herpes Labialis?

The herpes virus after having infected the body, it lies dormant inside nerve cells until some events trigger its manifestation. Normally the virus manifests in period of high level of stress or fatigue. This is because during these times our immune system is weakened. So in cases such as fever, menstruation, seasonal changes, very high or low temperature there is a strong possibility that in case of infection the virus will manifest on the skin.

Herpes Labialis transmission:

The most common way to get infected with herpes labialis is through saliva. An infected person can transmit the infection just talking very close to another one (the easiest way is of course with kisses). When the virus starts manifesting on the skin with blisters and vesicles is highly recommended not to touch the infected area and be very careful when interacting with other people. This is because during this phase it is very easy to infect others. My suggestion is not to get in direct contact or talk to close to other people until the blisters have been replaced with crusts.

There are also other ways to transmit the virus. For example touching objects previously handled by an infected person such as a towel or cutlery could be enough to get infected.

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