How Do You Get Herpes?

The advancements in medical science have made the everyday life much easier given that many of the health conditions people were afraid of catching, required prolonged treatment and were proven deadly either occur rarely or are easily cured now.

On the other hand, there are some diseases and health concerns which have been seen to take the place of the old ones. Such concerns have been the center of attention nowadays as they also seem to occur more frequently.

Sexually transmitted diseases were not as common as they have been now especially the years before the 1950s and 1960s. In addition, they were only typically confined to older adults and were rarely diagnosed in adolescents.

RELATED: Chlamydia – Causes, Symptoms, And Prevention.

However, according to the latest statistics, most of the people who are diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases today are adolescents and young adults. The group of people between the ages of 15-24 is at the highest risk.

One of the most common sexually transmitted diseases is herpes which is, like some of the other STDs, manageable but hard to diagnose because the herpes virus can live dormant inside a person’s body. In a case like this, blisters that burst up into cold sores and ulcers can appear periodically.

Technically, the herpes virus is not curable but by following the proper guidelines, the symptoms of herpes can be controlled and the virus can be sent back into remission. This is what makes looking at the signs of herpes important.

What Is Herpes?

Herpes is a very well-known sexually transmitted disease that seems to be occurring a lot mostly because of people’s unhealthy. Although the disease is mentioned in all of the conversations related to STDs, many people are not aware of what happens in it.

Herpes can occur in two places – the mouth and the genitals albeit both are caused by the same family of viruses. The condition is related to a family of over seventy different types of viruses and a total of eight types.

The simplex virus can cause eight different herpes that affects not only adults but children as well. The herpes types that are most frequently diagnosed out of all are two – HSV-1 and HSV-2.

The reason people get cold blisters around the mouth is mostly due to infection caused by HSV-1 type herpes virus. Cold sore breakouts are also commonly referred to as ‘fever blisters’ are also seen in children.

Most of the cases of this type of herpes virus usually catch it during childhood and have it dormant in their bodies all along and when the immune system is weakened the virus starts to cause breakouts more often along with other problems.

As soon as the immunity is weakened, many symptoms of herpes start to appear. This is the time where the infected person should get it checked as soon as possible.

HSV-2 is the second most common type of herpes after HSV-1 and is also better known as genital herpes because it causes blisters and cold sores to erupt around the genitalia and not the mouth like in fever blisters.

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, HSV-2 is the biggest reason people get genital ulcers. Around 1 in 3 adults are infected with genital herpes but it is highly likely that they are not even aware of it.

Symptoms of both types are hard to diagnose which is why diagnosis at developed stages is often complicated. Herpes symptoms only start to appear when the virus actively starts infecting the body of the person.

In addition, both of the types of herpes are highly contagious and can spread from one person to another through some of the daily habits included in a majority of the people’s routines.

Look out for small fluid-filled blisters that develop on the mucous membrane in case you think you have herpes.

What Are The Causes Of Herpes?

In contrast to the widely held belief, the herpes virus can spread and become active due to more reasons other than sexual relations with a person or multiple persons such as the condition of the immune system of a person.

Both the HSV-1 and HSV-2 type of herpes infections can be caught from any type of direct contact with a person carrying the virus. The different viruses the cause both HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections in someone are present on the oral, genital, or anal mucosal surfaces of an infected person.

The viruses can be transferred from the infected person to another through any form of skin to skin contact. Even if the other person comes into contact with cold sores on the mouth, he or she is likely to catch herpes.

HSV-1 is sometimes not considered a sexually transmitted disease because according to the studies, it is usually passed on by mouth to mouth contact. On the other hand, HSV-2 is mostly passed on by vaginal or anal intercourse.

The latest studies in herpes and its transmission have also confirmed something that researchers were not sure of before. In many of the recent cases of herpes, it has been seen that HSV-1 infections almost always leads to the development of HSV-2 infection.

Hence, the assumption that HSV-1 can also cause fever blisters and is comparatively not as dangerous has been falsified. What is more worrying than this is nearly 85% of the people with genital herpes are not even aware of having it.

Studies have shown that about 50% of the diagnosed cases of HSV-2 type herpes in young adult and about 40% of the cases in older adults are because of HSV-1 herpes virus. Herpes rates and transmissions rising are generally due to not knowing about it.

To avoid catching a herpes infection, it is important to know the different ways you can catch one in the first place. Some of the habits that can put you at a higher risk of catching or developing herpes are the following:

  • Engaging in any form of unprotected intercourse (including oral)
  • Mouth to mouth contact with someone who has active herpes symptoms (mostly kissing)
  • Having certain other health conditions that affect the immune system such as autoimmune diseases, hepatitis or HIV/AIDS
  • Having intercourse with multiple partners
  • Consuming high amounts of alcohol
  • Smoking cigarettes or drug abuse
  • Eating a poor diet lacking in nutrients needed by the immune system for strength

What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes?

Herpes is usually diagnosed through swab from active herpes signs such as the cold sores and ulcers caused by both common types of herpes. For inactive herpes, blood tests to determine the herpes antibodies present in the body can be done.

However, it should be kept in mind that virus from swabs cannot be easily detected unless the sore or ulcer is large enough. This can sometimes give large false results of herpes.

Other than these, herpes symptoms that can appear in an infected person are:

  • Having a single developed cold sore or multiple cold sores that form around the lips, inside the mouth, genitals, buttocks, and upper thighs.
  • Sores are often painful and can burst open, causing the fluid to flow out
  • It is also common to see redness, tenderness and swelling around the herpes sores
  • Some people develop signs that are similar to a common cold while getting a herpes outbreak and can experience fever, headaches, and fatigue.
  • Herpes canker sores can develop a white lining which burns if touched
  • Tingly and itchy sensations around an area along with signs of a rash are signs of a potential herpes cold sore