Herpes is a viral infection caused by the HSV (herpes simplex virus). There are two types of HSV, type 1 and type 2 

Type 2 is the virus most often responsible for recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes and about half of primary outbreaks and is spread through genital-genital contact where type 1 is best known for causing cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth and nose.  

Type 1 can also cause genital herpes – it can be passed to the genitals from a person with a cold sore during oral sex or from genitals to genitals like type 2, but this is relatively uncommon 

Type 1 and Type 2 are similar viruses, but they do have differences. The only way a doctor can tell which one is responsible for herpes symptoms is through laboratory tests. Knowing which type of infection a person has, can help to determine how someone got herpes and what to expect in terms of number of outbreaks.

Who Gets Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is very common. About 1 in 5 people in North America has type 2 where type 1 is common in more than half the people in North America.  Most people have outbreaks of type 1 as cold sores or fever blisters around their mouth.

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection but this does not mean that a person with genital herpes has had numerous sexual encounters – just one encounter can be enough if a sexual partner has herpes that is active at the time of contact. A person can also get genital herpes espcially Type 1 through oral sex with a person who has a cold sore.  Any time there is skin-to-skin contact with the affected area, there is a potential risk.

After infection Herpes stays in the body in a latent, or resting, state and may reactivate and cause symptoms. When this happens, treatments can help make symptoms more manageable.

What Does Genital Herpes Look Like?
There are specific symptoms and signs associated with genital herpes, but there are a lot of differences in symptoms between individuals. Many people have symptoms so mild that they do not really notice them at all. Others won’t know unless they know exactly what to look for. Other people do not have any symptoms.

  • Sores, which can be different sizes: from 1 mm to greater than 2 cm in diameter.
  • Raw, painful or itchy area, similar to “chafing”, on a specific location on the genitals. 
  • Redness and/or swelling in a specific location on the genitals.
  • Tiny blisters filled with a clear or whitish fluid that eventually burst, scab and heal. The sores are not very deep; they are on the skin’s surface. Blisters are mostly seen in men or on thicker skin in either men or women. They are not seen under the foreskin, on the two inner folds of tissue (also called lips) around the female vaginal opening, in the perineal area (between the vagina or penis and the anus) or area around the anus. In these thinner-skinned areas, sores generally begin with chafing or rawness and skip the blister stage.
  • Before an outbreak, many people experience tingling, itchiness or burning in the genital area – the prodrome.
  • Sometimes nerve pain in the buttocks or down the leg is the only noticeable symptom of genital herpes.

  • Symptoms that most often occur during a primary outbreak 
  • Discharge from the vagina.
  • Pain while urinating or difficulty passing urine or emptying the bladder.
  • Swollen glands in the groin lymph nodes located in the front of the body where the legs meet the pelvis.
  • Fever, headache, eye pain or discomfort, flu-like symptoms, like tiredness and muscle aches 
Are Cold Sores Herpes?
Cold sores are caused by infection of the area around the mouth or nose with the herpes simplex virus. 

More than half of the people in North America are infected and usually have acquired oral herpes during childhood. The first episode of oral herpes may cause extensive ulceration in the mouth and last for several weeks, especially in young children and those infected will show signs of  sores in the mouth and on the gums, near the back of the throat, swollen glands, especially the lymph nodes in the neck and even fever.

Other signs are tingling sensation in the skin surrounding the mouth or nose. Swelling and/or redness, followed by the appearance of 1 or more fluid-filled blisters. The blisters eventually burst to leave open sores, which scab and then heal.  

How To Eliminate Oral Herpes?
There is no cure for oral herpes. Herpes infects the skin cells surrounding the mouth or nose, it moves into nerves near the skin then travels along nerve fibres to a bundle of nerves near the inner ear,  where it stays until it becomes active again. From time to time it reactivates and travels down branching nerves to the skin cells, causing an outbreak.

Non-prescription topical medications may soothe and help speed healing of outbreaks of cold sores. Some oral antiviral agents have been shown to help speed healing of outbreaks of oral herpes and shorten the length of time with symptoms. These medications should be started at the earliest symptoms of a cold sore 

Antiviral Therapy
The first outbreak of genital herpes may be the worst ever experienced. All people with a first outbreak should see their doctor immediately to discuss treatment options. Valtrex®, Apo®-Acyclovir, Avirax®, Gen-Acyclovir, Nu-Acyclovir, Ratio-Acyclovir, Zovirax® have been shown to help speed healing of herpes sores and shorten the length of time with symptoms of a first outbreak of genital herpes.

Antiviral therapy is used to treat recurrent outbreaks.  There are two ways that antiviral therapy is prescribed for the management of recurrences: episodic therapy or suppressive therapy.

Episodic Therapy: The antiviral agent should be taken at the first symptom of an outbreak. Some people notice symptoms, such as tingling, itching or burning in the genital region, before blisters or sores appear. When taken at the first symptom of an outbreak, episodic therapy has been shown to:

Shorten the length of time with symptoms 
Help herpes sores heal faster 
Stop outbreaks from becoming full-blown if the medication was started when tingling, itching or burning was noticed, just before blisters or sores appeared

Valtrex® are available to treat outbreaks of genital herpes.[22-24]

Famvir® is available for the treatment of recurrent episodes of mucocutaneous.

Suppressive Therapy: The antiviral agent is taken every day and has been shown to:

Reduce the number of outbreaks 
Shorten the length of time with symptoms if an outbreak occurs 
Decrease the amount of time that the virus is shed from the skin or mucous membranes between outbreaks (asymptomatic viral shedding) 

Treatment of Oral Herpes with Antiviral Therapy: When taken at the first symptom of a cold sore some oral antiviral medications have been shown to help speed healing of cold sores and shorten the length of time with symptoms.

Non-prescription topical medications may soothe and help speed healing of outbreaks of cold sores. Some non-prescription medications include Antibiotic Cold Sore Ointment, Cepacol® Viractin® Gel, Fletcher’s Liquid Sore-Mouth Medicine, Lipactin® Gel, Orajel® Medicated Mouth Sore Swabs, Orajel® Mouth Sore Medicine, Orajel® Multi-Action Cold Sore Medicine, Tanac® Medicated Gel and Zilactin® Medicated Gel.

Are Natural Therapies Avaliable?
It is common to look for dietary or herbal remedies to manage your herpes. To date no alternative therapies have been proven to work for genital herpes in large, properly designed studies.

The above information is only a primer of what you will find at the Herpes Health.com your only website for the complete and most up to date information on Herpes.  I encourage you to visit them for complete information.  

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