What does herpes look like?

Herpes is today a very common infection and knowing how it looks like in each one of his stages is very important if you want to find a way to defeat it. Herpes is caused by the the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and it is spread through skin contact. It has four main stages and it will be extremely contagious as soon as it forms on the skin. There are two types of virus and they cause the formation of herpes in two different parts of the body. The HSV-1 or oral herpes affects the area around and inside the mouth. The HSV-2 or herpes genitalis causes the formation of herpes in the genital area.

what does herpes look like

Herpes symptoms

Before you notice any sign of the infection it is quite common to experience one of more of this herpes symptoms before the virus will show on your skin:

  • itching
  • tingling
  • burning
  • swelling

At this stage herpes will not be visible but it will still possible to transmit the virus to others. Actually this is the moment where the virus is transmitted more easily because the person may not be aware of the infection. The second stage is what is called herpes outbreak. At this point small red bumps or fluid-filled blisters will start growing on the skin. You may experience pain and is some cases flu-like symptoms and headaches. This is the stage when the virus is the most contagious.

After few day blisters has formed they will eventually break open and will give way to small crusts. The crust will slowly heal in some weeks and replaced with new skin. This is the last stage. After this moment the virus will still remain inside the body but it will no longer be contagious.

How to kill herpes

Once the HSV has entered inside your body it heads straight to nerve cells. Then it is going to remain dormant until some event will activate it. Periods of high stress or fatigue, illness, seasonal changes, dehydration or sunburn can all be triggers and activate the virus. When this happens, the way doctors will handle it is prescribing you antiviral drugs such as acyclovir, famciclovir or valacyclovir. What these medication do is to slow the growth and spread of the HSV so that your body can fight the infection.

Something that you should know about the herpes simplex virus is that there is no way to eliminate it from your body once you are infected. Common medication allows you only to cure outbreaks but they do not kill the HSV. This means that the virus is going to form again in the future any time some event triggers it. The only way to stop this from happening is to make sure the virus will stay permanently inactive. If you don’t succeed in this you will have to deal with recurrent outbreaks for the rest of your life.

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Herpes Symptoms

Herpes is a very common infection and knowing herpes symptoms can help to prevent and cure it. The virus responsible for the infection is the herpes simplex virus, also known as HSV. This virus is transmitted from person to person mostly through direct contact, but in some cases it is possible that it will happen indirectly. There are two main types of the virus, the herpes simplex type 1 and type 2. The HSV-1 is the cause of oral herpes while the HSV-2 is the cause of genital herpes.

herpes symptoms

Symptoms of herpes

The first episode of herpes, called primary infection, is always the most severe and it happens after an incubation period of 1-2 weeks. The main symptom of the outbreak is an itching or tingling sensation. After that, you will notice the formation of small ulcers which in time will break open and turn into scabs, until complete healing. The all process can last up to 3 weeks in which it is also possible to experience sore, fever and headaches.

After the primary infection, the virus is going to stay hidden inside nerve cells until some events will trigger its manifestation. Usually, you can experience an outbreak any time your immune system is weakened and it won’t be able to suppress the virus. Triggers can be:

  • stress
  • fatigue
  • illness
  • sun exposure or sunburn

You should know that depending on the person it is possible to experience regular outbreaks without the need of any particular event. This is why it is very important to find a way to strengthen your immune system and avoid constant outbreaks. In time the outbreaks should become less severe and less frequent as the body will get more used to the virus.

Herpes transmission and prevention

The moment when herpes is most contagious is while blister are present and the virus is active. During this time it will be very easy to spread the virus to others. In the case of oral herpes just kissing or speaking too close to an infected person can cause the transmission. For genital herpes, any kind of sexual activity (vaginal, anal or oral) with an infected partner can cause you to get infected. Something that is often not known is that the virus can be transmitted even if there are no symptoms. This means that the infected person may spread it without even knowing he/she has been previously infected.

Herpes transmission can occur also through the exchange of body fluids. This is why I recommend being very careful when handling objects that belongs to others, such as glasses, towels, cutlery, toothbrushes or lipsticks. Also, I strongly suggest always using protection with a new partner. If you happen to touch the blisters with your hands, it is very important you wash them immediately to avoid spreading the virus on other parts of your body.

Herpes Cure

You should know that there is no herpes cure. This is because once you are infected the virus will hide inside nerve cells and it will be impossible to attack and remove. But you don’t have to be worry about it. There are ways to make sure that the virus will stay in a permanently dormant state and never manifest again. The most common make use of antiviral medications which can help to relieve symptoms, avoid the spreading of the virus and heal outbreaks faster.

All kind of over-the-counter medicine, either pills or creams, that doctor will prescribe you are made with the same active ingredients: acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir. What you should know is this kind of medication ease the symptoms but they do not work on the cause of the problem. This means that when the outbreak is over, the virus will still remain active inside your body and manifest all over again at the first occasion.

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Herpes Simplex

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is the reason behind the manifestation of herpes outbreaks on your body. This virus has two forms: herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and the herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2). The HSV type 1 is the cause of oral herpes, which can be also called herpes labialis or cold sores. Usually, this type of herpes forms on the lips and near the mouth but sometimes it can spread to the nose and cheeks. In some particular cases the herpes simplex 1 can be also the cause of genital herpes. This can happen when an infected mouth gets in contact with genitals, like in the case of oral intercourse.

herpes simplex

Normally, is the HSV type 2 that causes genital herpes. The virus develops on genitals (penis and vagina) but can also spread on the anus and glutes. The herpes simplex usually manifests on the body when the immune system is weakened. When this happens 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 can trigger an herpes outbreak:

  • very high or low temperature
  • fever
  • menstruation
  • stress
  • seasonal changes
  • dehydration

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. After that, the HSV is going to lie dormant inside nerve cells waiting to manifest at first occasion. The herpes simplex 1 is transmitted through saliva or through the contact with the infected area. The easiest way to get this type of herpes is through kisses or speaking too close to 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 extremely careful when engaging with a new partner and always use protections. This is because even if the virus is dormant inside the body there is still a high risk to transmit it, especially through any body fluid, like sperm or saliva. Another possible way to transmit the virus of genital herpes is in the case of pregnancy. At the moment of birth, if the mother is infected she can transmit the virus to the child.

Recent studies have found that the 62% of the American population has contracted the herpes simplex 1 during adolescence. In the case of herpes simplex 2, women are more exposed. It has been found that about 1 in 4 women have HSV-2, compared to 1 in 8 men. This is because the female reproductive system is more internal and that facilitate the exposure to sexual transmitted diseases like the herpes simplex type 2.

Herpes simplex symptoms:

Usually, the first herpes outbreak is the strongest because the body has not experienced it before and it is not yet prepared. During time they will become less strong and also less frequent. The way that the virus manifest on your body is through fluid-filled blisters, which eventually are going to break open and leave you with small crusts. 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 itch on the mouth or around it and sometimes fever or sore throat. In the case of herpes simplex 2 usually the first symptom is a tingling sensation and discomfort in the genital area. In women there may be also vaginal discharge and internal pain. It is possible to experience fever, headache, muscles aches, swollen lymph glands in the groin and painful urination when the blisters will manifest.

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