Common Questions About Herpes Type 1

Not everyone carries the herpes simplex type 1 virus. Many people carry it without knowing it, because the symptoms aren’t obvious or visible. This is mainly how the herpes virus spreads.

How can you not know when you have herpes?

When you first catch the herpes simplex virus type one, you won't get symptoms right away. Often, you won't experience any signs until days or weeks later. Sometimes you will go through prodrome, which means experiencing the symptoms before the outbreak occurs. When this happens, the blisters will appear hours or days later.

Why does it take so long for the virus to show up?

The virus usually lays dormant within your body. Often, you won't develop any symptoms until the next time you catch the herpes virus (as though it were being reactivated).

Can I still spread the virus while it's dormant?

Yes. The herpes simplex virus can be transmitted through saliva, oral sex and vaginal or anal sex. Even when your outbreaks heal, the scabs left over will shed. Contact with the scabs could lead to infection. Skin to skin contact and kissing could also cause it to spread, though it is less likely to happen when dormant.

Is it true that type 1 herpes isn't dangerous?

A common myth states that type 1 herpes isn't life threatening. The virus usually mildly infects areas like the inner mouth, lips, and face, so many don't believe that it is truly dangerous. There are, however, some risks. If the herpes simplex type one virus spreads to the eye, it can cause ocular herpes, which is a serious infection that can lead to blindness. Rarely, you may see the infection travel to the brain, causing herpes encephalitis—a life threatening condition.

How problematic is the type 1 virus?

It all depends on the immune system of the individual. The healthier your body is, the fewer outbreaks you will have. When your immune system is weak, it won't be able to keep the herpes virus at bay, so you will experience frequent, recurring blisters.

There's also a myth that the herpes virus can spread through inanimate objects, such as toilets, swimming pools and towels.

For you to catch the virus through the toilet seat, the person that sits on it after the infected individual would have to have an open wound in the same exact spot where the virus was left. The virus is unable to penetrate through the skin of thighs or the buttocks because it’s too thick. The virus would also have to be transmitted rather quickly, because the virus cannot survive for a long time on a cold, dry surface.

You cannot get the virus through sitting in the same hot tub or swimming in the same pool. However, I advise you to use your own towel, especially since they tend to stay moist for a long time after use and can thus carry the disease for a longer period of time.

Does the virus ever go away?

Studies show that type 1 virus recurrences lessen over time, though it is unclear why this happens. Research also shows that many people obtain the virus when they are children, but the flare-ups don't occur until adulthood. Some people live with the herpes virus their entire lives without even knowing.


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