What is Herpes?


The first time I have consulted a doctor with my lips all covered with blisters and vesicles the only thing I had on my mind was “what is herpes and how can I get rid of it?” I immediately asked the doctor if there was any definitive cure the infection and this is what he answered: “Unfortunately dear, there is not a definitive cure for the herpes virus, because it infects nerve cells and hides in them. This means that no over-the-counter treatment can effectively remove it. You have to live with it.” However, not everyone will tell you that a lot of viruses, even the dangerous ones, when they cannot be remove from your body they can be still put in a stage where they are completely harmless.

If you want to know how to get rid of your herpes and don’t have to deal with constant outbreaks, you need to understand first what is herpes, what causes it, its symptoms and which types of herpes exist. The main symptom of the infection are fluid-filled blister or vesicles on the skin. They are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), a highly contagious infection that can cause discomfort and pain. The virus can be transmitted through direct or indirect contact and in the majority of the cases is transmitted through sexual activities, kisses or touching an infected person. But, it is also possible to get infected through toothbrushes, towels, glasses, napkins, lipsticks, cutlery or any object that may have been in contact previously with an infected person.

There are three different types of herpes:

Herpes labialis – generally known as cold sores, this type of herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 and causes the formation of fluid-filled blisters or vesicles on the lips and in the area around or inside the mouth. In some cases it is possible that they will spread also to the nose. The blisters can cause itch, pain and a strong discomfort on the infected area.

Genital herpes – this kind of herpes is caused from an infection of the herpes simplex virus type 2 and affects the genital area, glutes, anus and in some cases mouth and lips (if the infection comes from oral sex). The symptoms are the same as herpes labialis: small fluid-filled blisters which cause itch and pain on the area infected. Sometimes, you may also experience headaches, fever or painful urination.

Herpes zoster – commonly known as shingles, it is caused by the varicella zoster virus (VZV), which is the virus that also causes chickenpox (varicella). Even if they share the same name, this kind of herpes is not caused by any type of herpes simplex virus. Herpes zoster causes the formation of a great number of small blisters in a small area, usually the chest or the back but it can also form on the neck and the hips. The skin rash often comes with fever, headaches and local pain.

The herpes virus tends to manifest during period of intense stress or when your immune system is weaker. When you get infected it is very important not to touch the infected area, until the blisters start forming crusts. Also, be very careful when you interact with people because the infection is very contagious.

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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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