Herpes is very contagious so it is important to know the warning signs to avoid passing the virus to other people. The herpes virus can be contacted in the mouth or in the genitals, but both versions of the disease exhibit similar symptoms so it is easy to tell if you are contracting the disease if you are familiar with the side effects. Symptoms of this disease usually appear within 2-7 days after the disease has been contracted and can last up to 2-4 weeks. If you have contracted genital herpes these side effects will occasionally appear, but they will usually be less severe.
Causes of Herpes
There are two versions of the herpes virus, HSV-1 and HVS-2. The first form of the virus typically manifests itself as a blister or sore in the mouth. HVS-2 is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that is passed to the genitals through skin on skin contact. It is important to note that HVS-1 can be transmitted to the genitals through oral sex. HVS-1 is a temporary condition that will fade after a few days, but HVS-2 is a permanent condition which presently has no cure. Blisters will appear periodically on the genitals in irregular intervals and is incredibly contagious, even when there are no longer blisters present on the skin. You can also contract herpes from a toilet seat or towel used by someone who is infected with the disease.
Symptoms of Herpes
In some cases, those suffering from herpes will not show any symptoms, or symptoms may be less severe. It is important to check for symptoms often or have yourself tested if you know you have been exposed to the disease so you do not accidentally spread the virus to others.
- Itching or pain- The first sign that you may be suffering from a herpes outbreak is itching or pain around the infected area. This sign will typically occur a few weeks after having been exposed to the virus. The pain and discomfort will become more pronounced until red bumps appear on the skin. This is caused by the virus moving through the blood stream and becoming concentrated under the skin. This means that the virus is attempting to spread itself to other bodies.
- Increasing sore - After the sores begin to appear on the skin they will continue to swell and become increasingly painful as the virus continues to reproduce. The sores will slowly become white blisters which are filled with puss filled with the herpes virus. Eventually these sores will rupture, causing pus and blood to escape.
- Scab- Once the sores have burst they will begin to scab over and heal. This may be the point where your infection is the most obvious and it is easy to tell that you have been infected, though at any point during this process you are considered to be undergoing a herpes infection. You are also capable of spreading the virus to others during any point in this process so you will need to take adequate precautions.
- Additional symptoms - In addition to the sores on the genitals or near the mouth, those suffering from a herpes outbreak may suffer from additional symptoms. Women may find that their menstrual cycles become irregular during a herpes outbreak. You may also experience flu-like symptoms, fatigue or feel excessively stressed during a herpes outbreak.
If you suspect that you have contracted herpes then you will need to take a test to determine if this is the case. Some other sexually transmitted diseases exhibit similar symptoms so it is important to be sure before attempting treatment. During a clinical examination, a doctor will examine the genital area for signs of sores, and a urine sample may be taken. Women may be given an internal examination which resembles a pap smear. If sores are present, a swab will be used to take a sample for testing. If sores are no longer present a blood test similar to an HIV test can be performed to check for the herpes virus. Results of these tests should be returned within two weeks.
Treatments of Herpes
There is no cure for genital herpes, but you should see a doctor to confirm your diagnosis to get more information on what you can do to avoid passing the disease to others. You should avoid sexual contact when you feel an outbreak coming on and especially when you are in the midst of suffering from an outbreak. Those suffering from oral herpes should avoid kissing to prevent passing the disease to others.
In some cases medications can be used to help treat herpes outbreaks. These will help promote quicker healing and decrease the discomfort experienced during the outbreak. Your doctor may also recommend that you take this medication even if you are not experience an outbreak to help prevent you from spreading the disease to others. These anti-viral medications include acyclovir, faciclovir and valacyclovir. If you are experiencing a particularly severe outbreak you may need to see a doctor to get treatment to get the symptoms to go down.