Herpes simplex viruses
are responsible for causing a number of different disorders which are
collectively referred to as herpes simplex. A person with
herpes may or may not have
symptoms , which means it's very possible to have the virus without
realizing it. The infection tends to alternate between being active and in
remission. When it's active, there may be visible and painful sores or lesions
on the skin. The outbreaks usually happen less and less often over time.
Herpes can manifest in several different locations on the body just
as warts caused from the HPV
virus can appear on different body parts. The place where the infection is
located determines what it is called. The two most common types are genital and
oral. It is believed that
over half the population in the United States has
oral herpes , which has a symptom of
cold sores in the mouth or on the face.
Genital herpes , as its name implies, affects the genital region like
genital warts, and is present in about one-fifth of Americans. Some of the
less common types of herpes simplex are Mollaret's meningitis,
, herpetic whitlow, and herpes gladiatorum.
How it is transmitted
Usually, herpes is
when someone comes into contact with the sores on another person during an
active phase of the virus. This is usually through kissing, oral sex, or sexual
intercourse. It can also be spread by a person who doesn't show visible signs of
the infection, due to
asymptomatic shedding . Even individuals who don't know they have the
virus can potentially transmit it to others. Finally, herpes can be spread
through body fluids.
The main risk with herpes is accidentally spreading it to other places on
the body. This happens when and infected person touches an outbreak and then
touches another area of their body. It's important to avoid touching infected
areas and practice good hygiene during an outbreak. Herpes can also be spread to
if the mother has an outbreak. Because the virus can be much more
dangerous to babies, it's important to take care that they don't come into
contact with it.
Protection from herpes
The best way to avoid getting herpes is to not come into direct contact with an
infected person, but this isn't always possible. Using a barrier such as a
condom and avoiding intercourse during outbreaks greatly
reduces the chances of transmitting genital herpes, but it doesn't
Here are some ideas for lowering the risk of transmission.
Once infected, a person will have
the herpes virus for the rest of his or her life. There is no known cure for it
, although after a time it enters the nervous system and becomes dormant. There
are, however, treatments available that can help alleviate the symptoms. Some
people choose to use
medications , while others prefer natural treatments. Outbreaks also
tend to heal better when they are kept dry and clean.
This page offers many treatment ideas. Researchers are working on
creating a vaccine.