herpes simplex virus

Herpes is also called the herpes simplex virus (HSV). The virus is of two types. The first one is herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV 1) or oral herpes. However, the second is herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV 2) or genital herpes. Both of them have similar causes, i.e., the contraction of HSV. However, they cause different symptoms. Oral herpes leads to sores around the lips and mouth. These are usually called cold sores or fever blisters. On the other hand, genital herpes causes sores on the rectum or genitals. They may also occur in other parts. However, they generally take place below the waist. If you experience these symptoms, talk to your doctor for herpes treatment without any delay.

What are the symptoms of primary HSV?

Many people do not notice any symptoms in the initial stage of the disease. It happens in both types. On the other hand, some people may notice the occasional outbursts of tiny and fluid-filled sores. These blisters can appear on your genitals or rectum. Moreover, they may also take place on your lips and mouth.

The initial symptoms of the infection may seem to be like flu. However, they may include-

  • Body aches
  • Lack of hunger
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Tiredness
  • Pain in the infection area

People may also notice burning, tingling, or itching sensations at the places where the tiny and painful sores take place. You may develop one sore or a cluster of tiny sores. Moreover, these blisters will burst gradually and layer over before healing begins. Look for effective herpes treatment if these symptoms trouble you.

The sores, which appear during primary disease, may take around 5 to 6 weeks to heal. In addition, they may also transmit to other people until the time they are alleviated completely. The oral blisters may cause itching. On the other hand, genital sores may lead to pain during urination.

What are the symptoms of recurrent HSV?

Some people have only one episode of the infection. However, some people develop occasional flare-ups every month.

Your anatomy develops antibodies for the infection. This is the reason why the episodes become less recurrent over time. Moreover, they may also reduce the severity of your symptoms. They may include-

  • Sores, which occur during a frequent episode, may alleviate completely in a short period rather than a long week.
  • Sores may be less visible or aching during frequent outbursts.

If you have had earlier episodes, you may experience initial signs at the infected area. The symptoms that usually appear some hours or days prior to the blisters are as follows-

  • Burning
  • Pain
  • Tingling
  • Itching

Seek herpes treatment if you notice these symptoms. However, consult your doctor for effective ones.

What results in causing the disease?

This virus can be transmitted through unaffected contact with the blisters. As discussed above, the infection may not show symptoms at its initial stage. It makes people spread HSV without knowing about it.

Oral sores

People can contract or get HSV 1 through explicit touch with-

  • Saliva
  • Herpes sores
  • Other body secretions

Moreover, if someone does not have any symptoms, another person may contract the infection from the affected site. The instances of direct touch can be-

  • Oral sex
  • Kissing
  • Other forms of skin contact

Additionally, if you touch your partner’s infected site and then keep your hands on your genitals or face, you may get the infection. Many kids may also contract the disease when adults with a cold sore touch or kiss them. If you are undergoing herpes treatment, avoid touching or kissing people.

Nevertheless, other ways of transmission can be sharing lip balms, drink ware, razors, or eating utensils.

Genital herpes

Like the cold sores, people can transmit HSV 2 through an explicit contract with-

  • Saliva
  • Herpes sores
  • Other body secretions

Moreover, people may also spread the infection without knowing it. The reason being it does not show initial symptoms. The ways of contractions are-

  • Sharing sex toys with or of an infected person
  • Direct contact with the infection site
  • Kissing
  • Penetrative sex
  • Oral sex

People may think that HSV 1 causes oral sores and HSV 2 causes genital blisters. However, it is to know that both types of infection can cause sores on the mouth, lips, or genitals.

Who is at more risk of contracting herpes?

Any person can get this infection, regardless of age. Once you are exposed to the disease, you may have recurrent episodes even if you use herpes treatment. However, some people only have a single outburst.

It is to know that HSV is very frequent. Moreover, it often does not show any symptoms in the primary stage. You may contract the infection if-

  • You have sexual intercourse with someone with the illness
  • Your immune system is weak

Having sex without using a condom also increases the risk of the disease. The reason being HSV can often go unnoticed for years. It shows the symptoms in the advanced stage. For that reason, use a condom before having sexual intercourse.

Remember that these barriers can protect your genitals from infection. Sores and blisters can also appear on thighs and buttocks. Therefore, it is good to talk to your partner before engaging in sexual activity. Abstaining from sex can be a safe option.

Can HSV transmit during childbirth?

If a woman had the infection before conceiving a child and has frequent outbursts, she may transmit the virus to the baby. However, the risk increases more if she had contracted the virus during pregnancy or late in the phase. Look for effective herpes treatment if you have the disease.

The virus can lead to severe complications if transmitted from mother to child. Therefore, you should take special care during pregnancy if you have or even do not have the infection.

How do doctors diagnose the herpes simplex virus?

In many cases, a doctor may diagnose the infection by looking at the sores. He or she may also seek information about your other symptoms, such as burning or itching sensations.

  • Swab test

Your doctor may take the fluid from the blister and send it to the laboratory for examination.

  • Blood tests

In many cases, the disease may not show any primary symptoms. Therefore, if you think you have HSV, a blood test may help rule out the infection. If you have the disease antibodies, it indicates you have the virus. 

However, you should know that blood tests might not detect the infection if you go for it before 12 weeks of having HSV. In such a case, your doctor may consider another test before prescribing you the herpes treatment.

  • STI screenings

The usual STI screenings do not include the examination for the herpes simplex virus. Therefore, you can ask your doctor or an expert about the test before getting into it.

  • Home tests

You can do some tests at home. They may help you know if you have the disease. Nevertheless, always consult with your doctor before doing any test or going into any procedure for your treatment.

What are the treatments available for HSV?

There is no cure for this infection. Nevertheless, various treatments options can help alleviate your symptoms. Following are some of the appropriate methods to treat the disease-


The sores may get better on their own devoid of any medical treatment. However, if you notice critical or recurrent episodes, your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications.

These drugs decrease the number of outbursts. Moreover, antivirals also relieve the severity of your symptoms.

Medications, which can help in herpes treatment, are-

  • Acyclovir
  • Famciclovir
  • Valacyclovir

These medications can also decrease the possibility of spreading the virus during a flare-up. Moreover, antivirals also work when you do not have any symptoms.

In which form are these drugs available?

You can find antiviral medications like creams and pills. Nevertheless, your doctor may also prescribe an injection if you have a severe condition.

Cold sores medication has to be taken daily orally. Experts usually prescribe it in the form of acyclovir. Another name for it is Zovirax or Xovir. Moreover, Famciclovir (Famvir) and Valacyclovir (Valtrex) can also help treat cold sores.

You can find HSV 2 medication in the form of Valacyclovir (Valtrex) and Famciclovir (Famvir). You can should these drugs once a day. Moreover, some people prefer this one-dose-a-day treatment. They find taking pills several times a day inconvenient.

How does Famciclovir work?

It is a prodrug. Famciclovir needs to be broken down (metabolized) in the body before becoming active against herpes viruses. Nevertheless, this herpes treatment accomplishes its metabolism in the liver by enzymes called hepatic cytochrome P450 enzymes. Within cells, Famciclovir is metabolized to penciclovir. Penciclovir, then selectively inhibits viral DNA synthesis by competing with deoxyguanosine triphosphate (dGTP) for viral DNA polymerase. Eventually, it results in terminating viral DNA chain.

How does Valacyclovir work?

It is an antiviral drug, which prevents the growth and spread of the herpes virus in the body. Moreover, Valacyclovir can also treat outbreaks of genital herpes.

The medication is converted to acyclovir inside your body. Acyclovir may help decrease pain or discomfort. Moreover, it speeds up healing times for sores.

How does acyclovir work?

It works by stopping viral growth and reproduction. Acyclovir will not cure an infection caused by the herpes virus. Nevertheless, it can lessen the symptoms. The drug works best when you use it soon after you develop the first signs of an outbreak (such as pain, burning, blisters).

What can you do at home to relieve your symptoms?

You can do various things to alleviate the disease. These home remedies may also ease the ache and uneasiness linked to herpes sores. Nevertheless, try doing the following to relieve the flare-ups along with using the herpes treatment-

  • Apply a blend of olive oil and crushed garlic on the affected area.
  • Try a cold or warm compress.
  • Go for aloe vera.
  • Make a paste of cornstarch or baking soda and water and apply it to the infected body part.
  • Try eucalyptus, tea tree, or peppermint oil to the sores. However, remember to dilute these oils with carrier oil.

What are the potential complications of cold sores and genital herpes?

Once a person contracts the infection, he or she may have it lifelong. The virus generally remains dormant. However, it can cause symptoms over time.

Following things can trigger the outbursts-

  • Fever or other illness
  • Stress
  • Sunburn
  • Menstruation

Herpes Keratitis

It is a complication of the herpes simplex virus. If you touch the blisters and move your hands over your eyes, you may have it.

Nevertheless, the possible symptoms may include-

  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pain and redness in the eyes
  • A dusty feeling in the eye
  • Blurred vision
  • Unusual discharge from the eyes

How to live with the virus?

In general, the disease is not considered a critical health problem. However, it is a lifelong illness.

The blisters can cause uneasiness and pain over time even if you are using the herpes treatment. Nevertheless, home remedies and medications can help alleviate your symptoms. They may also lend you a hand in recovering quickly.

Antivirals can also decrease the possibility of frequent flare-ups. Moreover, they can also trim down the spread of the infection to other people.

Can you prevent cold sores and genital herpes?

There is no cure for this disease. Many people live with the virus without having several episodes. They may only have one outburst throughout their life. On the other hand, some people develop several episodes throughout their life. Above all, it is very significant to talk with your partner about HSV before engaging in sex.

Following tips may help avoid the risk of contracting the infection-

  • If you have the infection, do not prefer skin to genital contact starting from the time you experience the early symptoms until the time your sores get better.
  • Use your medicines on the sores with cotton swabs. Doing so can help decrease your contact with the blisters.
  • Do not share toothbrushes or razors even if you are using the herpes treatment.
  • Clean your hands properly after applying medication to the blisters or after touching them.
  • If you have cold sores, do not kiss or have oral sex, starting from the time you notice the symptoms until the time your blisters improve.

Above all, if you notice any HSV symptoms, reach out to your doctor for a diagnosis. Early detection can help manage the disease in a better way. Moreover, you and your doctor may also work to prevent complications. If you are pregnant, take special care. Go for regular checkups to make sure your child is safe.