Herpes is a viral disease that results in the appearance of small grouped cysts. It is a contagious disease and there are two types, labial (mouth) and genital (sexual organs). Herpes is highly contagious. We take a look at this virus, its causes, modes of transmission and how to treat it.
What Is Herpes?
Herpes is a viral and contagious disease caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) characterized by skin and mucosal conditions. In the presence of herpes grouped blisters appear on the affected area.
Herpes is a virus, there are two types, herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) responsible for herpes labialis, and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2), which concerns the genital herpes. Herpes is manifested by outbreaks. The blisters are usually visible from 6 to 10 days then disappear for several months until reappearing.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI), it appears as small painful blisters on the sexual organs.
Depending on the region of the world, 50% to 90% of the population is already infected with HSV-1. The first infection occurs before age 20, often during infancy. However the majority of people hold the virus but it remains inactive. HSV-2 infection is different, usually occurring in adulthood between 20 and 40 years of age. In Europe, genital herpes is not widespread, but it is very common in Africa, where 30 to 40% of the population is infected, even up to 90% in certain regions.
Causes: Where Does Herpes Come From?
The herpes virus is very contagious. Especially for people who have never been confronted with the virus, pregnant women as well as infants. Regarding herpes as a whole, the most dangerous transmission period is when the blisters are broken. From that moment, anything that comes into contact with the wound is a potential source of transmission. It should nevertheless be noted that the virus can be dormant, that is to say that a person can hold the virus without having contracted it, and transmit it via saliva or other means, without being aware of it.
Regarding HSV-2, or genital herpes, the herpes is spread most often through unprotected vaginal or anal intercourse with an already infected person. During penetration, the viruses contained in the blisters penetrate the body of their new host by microscopic lesions present on the skin or mucous membranes. Nevertheless, it is impossible to contract genital herpes by indirect contagion, ie by being in contact with objects previously used by infected people (toilet, towel, water ...) because the virus dies quickly once outside the body. In adults, kissing and oral / genital sex are the main routes of transmission.
The virus can also be transmitted on the same host, for example the virus can be transmitted by the fingers or genitals to the mouth or eyes. Thus, cold sores can cause genital herpes, and vice versa.
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes?
Herpes labialis: During the first cold sore attack, most of the time there are no symptoms. Eventually, especially in young children, the mouth as a whole can be affected, leading to acute gingivostomatitis. Recurrences (periods of reactivation of herpes) are preceded by tingling, itching, burning sensation, swelling on the edge of the lips, and a general feeling of discomfort including fatigue and fever. After a few hours to a day, small, red, painful blisters appear around the mouth. Filled with liquid, they eventually burst, then form a crust.
Genital herpes: Genital herpes is characterized in much the same way as herpes labialis with the exception of the appearance of swollen ganglia in the groin. Following the outbreak of herpes, small blisters appear. In men these blisters can be seen on the penis, buttocks, scrotum, thighs, anus, and urethra. In women they are found at the entrance of the vagina, on the buttocks, on the vulva and on the cervix.
Treatment: How To Cure Herpes?
Today, there is still no treatment that permanently eliminates the virus from the body. There are however, treatments to ease the symptoms of herpes. Among these are paracetamol, aciclovir cream and docosanol. In cases of genital herpes, the treatment is the same, however when the attacks are frequent, the doctor can prescribe different dosages for a prolonged duration, a year or more. Taking these drugs over the long term can reduce attacks, or even stop them, but also reduce the risk of transmission, reducing the risk of recurrence by 85 to 90%. Be careful not to use over-the-counter creams, especially those based on antivirals. These should used only for cold sores.