What is Herpes Simplex

The two types of herpes simplex have very similar symptoms, but the place of occurrence changes. Many Americans suffer from the symptoms of the virus. HSV-1 is known to appear in the lips, anywhere near the mouth, and different areas of the body. Where as, HSV-2, is associated with the genital area. Both types of the virus can be transmitted to another with or without an outbreak present. Although, the chances of it being transmitted with out a lesion present reduces the risk significantly.


After an individual has been infected with the disease, the symptoms usually start to appear 2-20 days after, in some cases they can last up to weeks. During the first out break the symptoms are the most painfull. Extremely sore itchy blisters filled with fluid show either around the genital area or the mouth/lip region. More internal symptom are like those of the flu; fever, aching muscles, fatigue, headaches, as well as tender lymph glands in the groin. The sore could last up to ten days with out any treatment, soon after the blister disappears. The virus remains in the body and lies dormmat in the nerve cells. The herpes virus tends to be a disease that shows itself during periods of stress, as well as, when a patient's immune system is down due to a cold or even cancer. Following are conditions that could potentially trigger an outbreak.

Factors that can contribute to an outbreak

  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Cancer
  • Taking Immunosuppresants
  • Sunburns
  • Menstruation


Herpes is a virus that can be treated, but there is not a cure. The reason being, when the medication would attempt to attack the virus cells they would actually damage the nerve cells as well. Due to the fact, that the virus lays dormat in the central nervous system. Anti-viral drugs are available, they aide in suppressing the virus and prevent further outbreaks. With suppressive treatments the number of outbreaks decrease up to 85%.


To prevent any type of a Herpes Simplex virus transmission, it is important to understand how it is transmitted from one person to another. With HSV-1 showing up around your mouth area it becomes transferable by saliva contact, whereas, HSV-2 is transferred sexually. If sores/lesions are present intimate contact should be avoided. Latex condoms are another preventive measure, along with not touching blisters while they are present. Sharing clothes or towels with an infected person can also be another way of spreading the virus. The most imported measures a woman needs to take with this virus is during pregnancy to avoid transferring the disease to the child. It is recommended you tell your doctor about the disease to illuminate any health risks for the infant.

Photo Credit: Diego Villalba

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