Herpes Overview

There are two widespread attitudes about herpes:

Herpes does not effect any other part of the body.
There is nothing I can do to keep from having an outbreak.

Both attitudes are wrong!


 

What is Herpes?

Herpes is a common viral infection. It causes oral herpes (cold sores or fever blisters), and genital herpes (genital sores).

 

There are two herpes simplex viruses:

These viruses look identical under the microscope, and either type can infect the mouth or genitals. Most commonly, however, HSV-1 occurs above the waist, and HSV-2 below.

The body's natural defense system is called "The Immune Responses". Whenever herpes attacks the immune system, the body fights back against this menace. As the battle grows more intense, there are heavy losses by both the herpes virus and the immune system. This causes the body to be less able to defend itself from attacks by other viruses. For those very reasons, a herpes patient should try to keep the herpes virus under control at all times.

 

Remember...

You weren't singled out. Herpes is estimated to affect some 80 million people in America. At least one in six adults in the United States has genital herpes.
Get more information. The better informed you are about herpes, the easier it will be to manage.
Give yourself the best possible chance to limit recurrences by maintaining general good health and keeping stress to a minimum.
Take care of the affected skin area. Keep the area dry and clean during outbreaks to help healing.
Avoid physical contact with the area from the time of the first symptoms (tingling, itching, burning) until all sores are completely healed, not just scabbed-over.
Prevent self-infection to other areas of your body. Wash your hands with soap and water if you touch a sore. Better yet, don't touch the sores.
Prospective parents: If either mother or father has genital herpes, or any of the mother's previous sexual partners had genital herpes, tell your doctor about it.
Women with genital herpes: Don't skip your annual Pap smear.
Inform yourself about herpes. For many, diagnosis with herpes can mean a time of confusion, anger, fear and frustration. For many, it seems there is no place to turn for help in dealing with the sensitive aspects of herpes infection. There is help available.
Herpes is spread by direct contact.

 


Symptoms

Symptom Evaluation

 

How many outbreaks have you had in the past year ? If it was only one, it was one too many. You spend a great deal of your life, suffering physically and mentally. You wait for the next outbreak wondering if you could have prevented it. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the current outbreak was to be your last?

 

What happens when you first get herpes?

Symptoms of herpes usually develop within 2 to 20 days after contact with the virus, although it could take longer. These symptoms may last up to several weeks, varying from one person to the next. In many people, the first infection is so mild that it goes unnoticed. In others, the first attack causes visible sores. Even so, subsequent recurrences of the disease may cause lesions. When the sores are completely healed, the active phase of infection is over. Healing of the skin usually leaves no scars. In either case, the virus retreats into the nervous system and lies dormant.

 

Typical symptoms

The virus starts to multiply when it gets into the skin cells. The skin becomes red and sensitive, and soon afterward, one or more blisters or bumps appear. The blisters first open, and then heal as new skin tissue forms. During a first outbreak, the area is usually painful and may itch, burn or tingle. Flu-like symptoms are also common. These include swollen glands, headache, muscle ache or fever. Herpes may also infect the urethra, and urinating may cause a burning sensation.