Herpes STD Miami Center

Transmission and Symptoms

What is Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It can cause sores on your genital or rectal area, buttocks, and thighs. You can get it from having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has it. The virus can spread even when sores are not present.

Mothers can also infect their babies during childbirth. Symptoms of herpes are called outbreaks. You usually get sores near the area where the virus has entered the body. The sores are blisters which break and become painful, and then heal. Sometimes people do not know they have herpes because they have no symptoms or very mild symptoms.

The virus can be more serious in newborn babies or in people with weak immune systems. If you follow this link you will get important treatment information from institutions that are recognized for their scientific accuracy.

There are two types of herpes:

  • HSV-1 (herpes type 1 or oral herpes)
  • HSV-2 (herpes type 2 or genital herpes).

Children and young adults are commonly infected with herpes-type 1 from non-sexual contact with saliva such as sharing a drink with a parent or friend. Herpes-type 2 generally affects external genitalia, mucosal surfaces, and the anal region, and can be caused by either HSV-1 or HSV-2 during unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex, as well as sharing sex toys.

How is herpes transmitted?

Herpes virus can be transmitted via sores, saliva, or genital secretions if your partner has the oral herpes infection or genital area infection. It can also be transmitted to other areas of the skin or the eyes. According to Medical News Today, the virus is most frequently passed throughout the life cycle of the blister - right before it erupts, when it is visible, and until it is completely healed.

The virus can also be transmitted without having a present outbreak, but this is the least likely form of transmission. Additionally, the herpes virus can be passed from mother to baby during birth.

People can carry the herpes virus, yet be asymptomatic. In fact, the virus can lay dormant for months or even years before having an outbreak. Flu-like symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, and headaches can result from both forms of the herpes virus. However, that is where the similarities end.

Symptoms of Herpes Simplex Virus - 1 may include:

  • Painful sores on lips
  • Painful sores on gums, tongue, on the inner cheek, and the roof of the mouth
  • Painful sores inside the nose

Symptoms of Herpes Simplex Virus - 2 may include:

  • Painful sores or ulcers on the external genitalia, mucosal surfaces, and anal area.
  • Pain or itching
  • Small red or white blisters
  • Scabs

Treatments for herpes

Treatments for herpes tend to be over the counter (O-T-C) - painkillers, ice packs, and creams. There is no cure for the herpes virus. Antiviral medication, such as acyclovir, can help prevent the virus from multiplying, as well as clearing up the outbreak quicker and reducing the severity of the symptoms.

Symptoms typically last no more than 10 days. Individuals with fewer than six outbreaks in a year may be prescribed a 5-day course of antiviral medication each time symptoms appear. Individuals with more than six outbreaks a year may be prescribed a daily antiviral treatment indefinitely.

The aim of the antiviral medication is to prevent additional recurrences or outbreaks by suppressing the virus, thus reducing the risk of passing herpes to others.

Genital Herpes Common Questions

The virus that is the main cause of genital herpes is the herpes simplex virus type-2 (HSV-2), which is mostly only transmitted sexually. The herpes simplex virus type-1 (HSV-1) which is mainly transmitted orally through cold sores or fever blisters on or around the mouth can spread to the genital area through oral-genital contact, resulting in genital herpes.

A person can have genital herpes and not even realize it, because most people have mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. Even without symptoms, the herpes virus can still be transmitted, and you can get genital herpes from a partner who does not appear to be infected. When genital herpes symptoms do appear, the most common are one or more genital, rectal, or mouth blisters or open sores (ulcers). Ulcers may be painful and itchy, and they may ooze fluid. When the genital herpes infection is new, other symptoms may include flu-like symptoms such as fever, body-aches, and swollen lymph nodes.
Yes, genital herpes is a highly contagious and common sexually transmitted infection (STI). An estimated 417 million people worldwide are infected, and in the U.S., approximately one in six people aged 14-49 years has genital herpes.

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