Herpes 101: Understanding Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention


What is Herpes?

The herpes simplex virus causes this type of sexually transmitted infection. It exists in two strains – Herpes Simplex Type 1 and Herpes Simplex Type 2. Oral sex, vaginal sex or anal sex, are some of the major ways of transmitting the herpes simplex virus.

It is of two types: a) HSV-1, Oral herpes causes cold sores and blisters around the mouth and face) HSV-2 is responsible for genital herpes outbreaks. HSV Singles: HSV is not so uncommon disease. A study says that half of the population has HSV-1 and one out of every six people of age 14-49 has HSV-2.

The virus exhibits three phases: initial infection, followed by the latency phase where the infection remains dormant and exhibits no symptoms. The last phase is where you’d experience recurrent outbreaks.

What is the main cause of herpes?

Herpes is highly contagious, and the virus can be transmitted even when no visible symptoms or sores are present. This makes it essential for individuals to be aware of their herpes status and take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. Condom use and avoiding sexual contact during outbreaks or when symptoms are present can help reduce the risk of transmission.

It’s also important to note that while herpes is a lifelong infection, antiviral medications can help manage symptoms, reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, and lower the risk of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.

Are herpes serious?

It’s essential for individuals who have herpes to work closely with healthcare providers to manage their condition and reduce the risk of transmission. Antiviral medications, practising safe sex by using condoms, avoiding sexual activity during outbreaks, and disclosing their herpes status to sexual partners are all essential steps in managing the condition.

While herpes is a lifelong infection, many people with the virus lead healthy and fulfilling lives with proper management and support from healthcare professionals. If you have concerns about herpes, it’s best to consult a healthcare provider for personalized guidance and care.

What kills herpes virus on skin?

There is no cure for the herpes virus, and it remains in the body for life once a person is infected. However, antiviral medications can help manage herpes outbreaks by suppressing the virus’s activity. These medications, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir, work by inhibiting the replication of the virus within the body.

Over-the-counter creams or topical treatments can help manage some of the symptoms of herpes, such as itching and pain, but they do not eliminate the virus itself. These creams often contain ingredients like lidocaine or numbing agents to relieve discomfort.

Individuals with herpes must consult a healthcare provider for proper diagnosis and treatment. They can prescribe antiviral medications as needed and guide the management of the condition. Additionally, practising safe sex, using condoms, and avoiding sexual contact during outbreaks are essential steps in preventing the transmission of the virus to others.

Can toothpaste stop herpes?

Healthcare professionals do not recommend using toothpaste for cold sores or herpes, as it is not a proven or medically accepted remedy. While some may have heard of using toothpaste to dry out or soothe cold sores, it’s important to note that toothpaste is not designed to treat herpes or cold sores, and scientific research does not support its effectiveness.

Toothpaste contains various ingredients for cleaning and maintaining oral hygiene, including abrasives, detergents, and flavourings. Applying toothpaste to a cold sore may irritate the skin and worsen the condition, potentially prolonging the healing process and causing discomfort.

Is soap good for herpes?

Soap and water can effectively clean the skin and reduce the potential transmission of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV is relatively fragile outside the body and does not survive for long periods on surfaces. Washing with soap and water can help remove the virus from the skin’s surface, which can be especially important after direct contact with a herpes sore or during personal hygiene routines.

Is Dettol good for herpes?

Dettol is a brand of disinfectant products that people commonly use for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and personal hygiene. While Dettol and similar disinfectants can effectively kill many bacteria and viruses on surfaces, healthcare professionals do not recommend them for treating herpes or any other viral infections on the skin or mucous membranes.

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes herpes, primarily infecting the skin and mucous membranes. While Dettol may effectively kill various bacteria and some viruses on surfaces, it is not designed or approved for treating viral skin infections like herpes.

The treatment of herpes typically involves antiviral medications, which a healthcare provider prescribes to help manage and reduce the severity of outbreaks. These medications work by suppressing the activity of the herpes virus within the body.

Why is herpes not curable?

The unique characteristics of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and its ability to establish a latent (inactive) infection in nerve cells primarily contribute to the perception that herpes is incurable. Researchers are actively pursuing a cure for herpes by exploring various strategies, including developing antiviral drugs, immunotherapies, and vaccines. Some promising vaccine candidates have demonstrated positive results in early clinical trials, but a widely available and effective herpes vaccine has not received approval as of yet.

Without a cure, antiviral medications can help manage herpes symptoms, reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, and lower the risk of transmission to sexual partners. Additionally, practising safe sex, using condoms, and avoiding sexual contact during outbreaks are essential measures to reduce the spread of the virus.

Can herpes grow back?

Yes, genital herpes symptoms can come and go, and the virus remains inside the body even after the visible signs of the infection have disappeared. Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), and once a person is infected, the virus establishes a latent (inactive) state within nerve cells. During this latent phase, the virus can remain dormant without causing symptoms.

Periodically, the virus can become “active” and reactivate, leading to recurrent outbreaks of symptoms. These outbreaks can include the development of painful sores, blisters, itching, and other discomforts in the genital or anal area. Reactivation can occur due to various triggers, including:

  1. Stress
  2. Illness or a weakened immune system
  3. Hormonal changes
  4. Friction or irritation in the genital area
  5. Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light
  6. Other factors

Why is herpes permanent?

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) interacts with the human body in a way that primarily leads to herpes being considered a permanent infection.

While antiviral medications like acyclovir can help manage herpes symptoms, reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks, and lower the risk of transmission to sexual partners, they do not cure the infection. Antiviral drugs primarily work by inhibiting the replication of the virus during active outbreaks.

Efforts to develop a herpes cure are ongoing, but finding a way to eliminate the latent virus from nerve cells ultimately has proven challenging. The virus’s ability to hide in nerve cells and periodically reactivate makes it a persistent infection that can last a lifetime.

Where does the herpes simplex virus reside in the body?

This virus is known to be latent in nature. After the virus has found its way into the body, it gets into nerve roots and affects the sensory nerve Ganglia. The Ganglia are similar to junctions where nerves from different parts of the body converge.

I have heard that genital herpes is very common. Is it true?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has issued data indicating that this strand of the virus infects approximately 50 million people in the United States. Studies show that HSV is more common in women and individuals with more than five sex partners. However, researchers have observed that most people with herpes are unaware of their infection due to its asymptomatic nature. For this reason, many individuals remain unaware of their infection until they undergo a serological exam.

I don’t have lesions. What does this mean?

Most people with herpes don’t have any lesions. Typical lesions are in the form of little blisters when then progress onto become cold sores (genital ulcers). Not exhibiting symptoms doesn’t indicate infection. Healthcare professionals advise individuals with an active sex life to undergo a serological exam every six months.

Can I spread genital herpes to people I am involved with?

Individuals that are infected with HSV 1 or HSV 2 can spread the virus to their partner during sex (anal, vaginal or oral). Typically, the chances of spreading the virus increase manifold when the person is experiencing an outbreak or has blisters or cold sores. However, transmission during the latency period (when the virus is dormant) is also possible. According to estimates, 1 out of 3 individuals with asymptomatic herpes transmit the virus.

How do I know that I’ve been infected with HSV?

The symptoms of herpes are non-specific and often very mild. In some cases, infected individuals may experience blisters or cold sores that are generally painful. Prior to the development of lesions, people might experience a burning sensation in the area. This can be accompanied by irritation and discomfort in the genitalia.

I had lesions but my culture tested negative for HSV. Does this mean I don’t have herpes?

The biggest problem with herpes diagnosis is the level of sensitivity. There are a couple of reasons why cultures turn out to be negative:

  • A virus other than HSV might cause the disease.
  • Either the samples were not taken correctly, or it took a long time to reach the lab.

Can oral sex transmit the herpes simplex virus?

Yes. Also, the transmission can occur during an outbreak as well as in the asymptomatic phase. Oral sex is one of the biggest reasons behind the spread of HSV 1.

Is there any cure for herpes?

Medical sciences haven’t been able to find a cure for herpes. However, anti-viral drugs have proven to be highly effective in reducing the pain induced by symptoms of herpes. It can also reduce the number of outbreaks or viral replications in the body.

I experience outbreaks very often. Can treatment help?

Suppressive therapy is found to be extremely helpful for those who experience frequent outbreaks. An individual taking suppressive therapy takes small doses of anti-viral drugs on a daily basis. Studies have shown that suppressive therapies can reduce the number of outbreaks by about 90 per cent.

Do these medications have any side effects?

Medical sciences have shown these drugs to have minimal impact on the human body. Ingesting these medicines has not shown any evidence of causing major complications.

Is it safe to consume these drugs during pregnancy?

Medical experts have found out that pregnant women can consume anti-viral drugs as they don’t have any influence on the fetus. The Centers for Disease Control conducted a study on over 800 women and infants and found out that consumption of medicines doesn’t lead to any medical complications nor did they cause any fetal abnormalities.

I have herpes. Can I get HIV too? Is there any relation between the two?

Two different viruses cause Herpes and HIV. If HSV compromises your immunity, your susceptibility to HIV infection increases upon exposure. Healthcare professionals recommend that individuals who test positive for herpes undergo screening for other sexually transmitted infections. Patients who contract both the herpes simplex virus and the human immunodeficiency virus experience an elevated viral load due to interactions between the two viruses.

When an individual’s immunity takes a hit from HIV, he is more likely to shed HSV symptomatically.

My First HSV Outbreak and the Search for the Infection Date ?

The first outbreak after contracting HSV can be days, months, or even years after the initial infection. The only way to determine whether or not this was your first outbreak is to get a serological test done. In addition, a serological test can only testify to the presence of the virus and cannot show the exact period when you’ve come in contact with it for the first time.

Does using a condom prevent transmission of the virus to my partner?

Condoms effectively prevent virus transmission during vaginal and anal sex. However, engaging in oral sex risks transmitting the virus to your partner.

What do I tell my partner?

It would be best to inform your partner that you are infected when entering a relationship. Conversely, if you are already in a relationship, you should request your partner to undergo testing and disclose any past physical encounters.

What kind of resistance is helpful?

The best-known drugs that can offer relief from herpes symptoms include medications like acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir. While these drugs encounter very little resistance, the response to treatment varies significantly from person to person. Some individuals may require additional drugs to suppress viral outbreaks.