Herpes: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Herpes is a long-term infection caused by HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus) that affects the external genitalia, mucosal surfaces, anal region and skin in other parts of the body. Mostly, sufferers are unaware of their condition because symptoms start coming upfront very late. Sometimes, symptoms can be mild and get mistaken for some other disease.
Herpes is caused by two different but closely related viruses – HSV1(Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1) and HSV2(Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2) leading to two disparate types of infections.
Sexually transmitted HSV usually spreads due to unprotected sex. Further, it can also spread because of having multiple sex partners or being sexually active at a young age. Having some other STI’s (Sexually Transmitted Infection) or a weak immunity system aggravates risks of being affected with Herpes. In case of pregnant ladies who are victims of Herpes, the baby is likely to catch the disease.
Oral herpes can spread by having intimate contact with an infected person such as kissing. Touching open herpes sores of an infected person or coming in direct contact with things used by infected person such as razors, dishes, towels etc. can also spread the disease.
The initial symptoms of Herpes might resemble a skin rash or an insect bite. In most conditions, these symptoms can be seen in the first two weeks after the virus is transmitted. But sometimes the first outbreak can take years to appear. Herpes can be extremely painful in the first outbreak. As time passes on, the pain reduces and finally subsides. The classic lesions of this disease are like blisters that eventually come out on the skin of vagina, vulva, cervix, penis, butt, anus, or the inside of your thighs.
In cases where the cause of Herpes is HSV-2, symptoms might be similar to flu such as headache, fever, fatigue or swollen glands in your pelvic area, throat and underarms.
Oral herpes is comparatively less painful as compared to genital herpes. It may cause sores around lips or mouth that can last for days, months or years. Newborn babies suffer more in such cases.
Certain home remedies can help relieve discomfort and reduce severity of symptoms:
- Bathing sore areas with warm saltwater solution twice a day (Half teaspoon salt with half pint warm water) can ease out the pain.
- Infected should wear loose- fitting clothes to allow air circulation around the sores.
- Painkillers such as aspirin, ibuprofen and acetaminophen can help too.
- Place an icepack around the affected area after wrapping it in a towel
Currently, there are no medicines available to treat Herpes. However, in order to reduce pain and subside symptoms, doctors may prescribe an antiviral to prevent the virus from multiplying.