Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
How do you get Herpes/How can you get it? HSV Causes:
Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) or herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2). Genital herpes can be caused by either virus, while oral herpes is more commonly caused by HSV1.
It is spread by contact with the mouth, genitals, or skin with either developed or developing herpes blisters. Transmission is also possible between outbreaks, when visible or asymptomatic viral shedding occurs from the original site of infection.
Both HSV1 and HSV2 are most often spread by people who are asymptomatic and not experiencing any noticeable signs or symptoms.
How to tell if you have HSV? Symptoms:
Most people with HSV are unaware they have it and have no noticeable signs or symptoms.
For those with outbreaks during the initial episode, there may be:
- Pain at the site of the sore(s)
- Painful urination
- Vaginal discharge
- Swollen glands
- Body aches
Typically, another episode can appear weeks or months after the first, but it is almost always less severe and shorter in duration. In 20% of genital herpes infections, when signs do occur, they typically appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals or rectum.
- Tingling at the sight of outbreak
- Pain, burning, or pressure at the site of original infection
How to know if you have HSV? Herpes Tests:
If blisters are present, a health-care provider can diagnose HSV1 & HSV2 by sight, but clinical diagnosis should be confirmed by a laboratory blood test.
Relief spells (Rolaids?!) HSV Treatment:
There is no treatment for HSV and the infection can stay in the body for life.
However, there are anti-viral medications to treat outbreaks and to lessen the frequency of HSV occurrences. People experiencing frequent outbreaks can be prescribed an anti-viral medication to take daily – this is called suppressive therapy and can reduce frequency and duration of outbreaks.
Some people recommend taking a supplement of the amino-acid lysine (L-lysine). While some research has suggested that lysine supplements can reduce the frequency of recurrences or reduce healing time, other studies have been inconclusive.
What’s going to happen to me?!!?! Herpes Expectations:
Genital herpes can cause recurrent painful genital sores, and infection can be especially severe in people with suppressed immune systems. Regardless of severity of symptoms, genital HSV frequently causes psychological distress in people who know they are infected.
Things to be aware of… HSV Complications:
HSV infections can increase the risk for HIV infections two-fold. The immune response to HSV2 can also make an HIV infected individual more infectious.
Pregnant women who have an active genital herpes infection when they give birth may pass the infection to their baby.
- The risk of passing the infection to the baby is highest if the mom first becomes infected during pregnancy. The risk for severe infection in the baby is much lower in recurrent outbreaks.
- Babies of women who become infected during pregnancy are at risk for premature birth. The baby may develop brain infection (meningitis, encephalitis) , chronic skin infection, severe developmental delays, or death.
- Women with a history of genital HSV who have occasional or no outbreaks rarely spread the infection to their babies.
– – – –
Did this information help you or was this consistent with your experience? Are we missing something pertinent you think should be included in this in-depth description? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!