There’s often great confusion when it comes to herpes. Just the word “herpes” often conjures up images of a particularly nasty sexually transmitted disease. But did you know that herpes really stems from a virus called the herpes simplex virus? And were you aware, the odds are that you’ve already captured it at some point during your life?
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Actually, statistics show that around 85 percent of the planet’s population was infected, and it’s actually the strongest virus to control known to man. However, this is often where the confusion stems from. You see, there are two strains of this virus, called herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2). Herpes simplex 1 is the most frequent strain and is the reason for cold sores and fever blisters that appear around the mouth, gums and lips. Now everybody’s heard of a cold sore, but did you know it is in reality oral herpes.
Despite around 85 percent of the population being infected with HSV-1, not all individuals will develop cold sores or lesions around the mouth. This is because each individual’s immune system is unique and many have the ability to suppress an outbreak. Instead, the virus lies dormant, even though a carrier will still have the ability to pass the virus under specific conditions.
The second strand of the virus, herpes simplex 2, is the virus responsible for genital herpes. Genital herpes is one of the most prevalent STDs, and more worryingly, research demonstrates that there has been 32% rise in the U.S alone between 1978 and 1990. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 out of 5 American teenagers and adults is infected with HSV-2. The symptoms of genital herpes usually occur within 2 weeks of contracting the virus.
The area infected may include the genitals, genitals, buttocks, thighs, or some other region of the body where the virus may have entered through broken skin. Small red bumps appear first which grow into blisters that are itchy. The symptoms generally last 1-2 weeks. Once infected, HSV remains in the nerve cells of the body for life, and outbreaks (recurrence) can happen several times annually.
Despite there still being no treatment, scientists are convinced that a vaccination will be developed in the next five decades. However, an effective treatment to decrease the pain and recurrence of symptoms is Acyclovir (Zovirax), which is an antiviral medication. This may be taken in an ointment form, liquid, orally, or even intravenously depending on the seriousness of the outbreak.
Always ask your doctor before taking any new course of medication. An old cliché is that prevention is much better than cure, which certainly applies to herpes. Never engage in oral sex if your partner has mouth herpes or genital herpes. Never share towels, cutlery or a toothbrush with an infected individual. Always practice safe sex. Using a condom may significantly lower the risk of transmission, even though it’s by no means 100% effective, because it might not cover all infected areas. Valtrex, recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration, may provide the best hope to victims at the current moment. It can significantly decrease the possibility of transmission, even though the individual infected should take it continuously.