MY GOD! HERPES. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO?
Herpes has become a cause of tremendous anxiety and worry. If you have just been diagnosed as having herpes, remember - many people who get one episode of herpes never get a second. And those who do get further outbreaks can learn to live with their herpes.
WHAT IS HERPES?
Herpes is a viral infection of Herpes virus. There are many different types of herpes virus. They include Herpes Zoster (commonly known as shingles) and herpes simplex virus. Here we shall talk only about herpes simplex virus.
There are two types of herpes simplex virus:
The two types are very similar and can only be identified by laboratory tests. Genital infections caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 are usually less severe than those caused by type 2.
Its possible for a herpes simplex infection to pass from the mouth to the genital area: either through oral genital contact during oral sex or, much more rarely, by self infection - for example the virus from a mouth sore can be transferred on the finger to the genital area.
HOW TO PREVENT REPEATED OUTBREAKS?
Not everyone gets further outbreaks after the first one. In fact about half the people who get a herpes simplex outbreak never get another one. In those who do, the symptoms are usually milder and clear up more quickly - usually in 3 to 5 days. With some people, the outbreaks happen less frequently as time goes on and eventually may stop altogether. Unfortunately with others this is not the case.
SOME FACTORS, WHICH MIGHT BRING ON AN OUTBREAK
HERPES AND PREGNANCY
A woman might infect the baby if she has her first outbreak early in pregnancy or just before delivery. Most pregnant women who have second or subsequent outbreaks have a normal delivery. If one gets the first outbreak of genital herpes, closer to delivery time, she may be advised to have a Caesarean delivery to reduce the risk of infecting the baby.
HOW DOES THE VIRUS WORK?
The virus is usually passed on through direct skin contact from someone who is having an outbreak of herpes at the time. In a few cases where people get herpes out of the blue, it might be that theyve caught it from a partner who already has herpes but has never noticed any of the symptoms.
About 2 to 14 days after the virus has entered the body, small blisters appear. These are painful or itchy. They fill up with a clear and yellowish liquid. The tops come off to reveal painful ulcers which dry, scab over and heal in 2 to 3 weeks.
The virus affects the area where it enters the body. It then enters the nerve fibres. Some people may notice a tingling sensation when this happens; others wont notice anything. The virus then travels up the nerve and ends in the nerve root.
As far as we know, the virus will stay there for the rest of the persons life. It doesnt seem to do any harm to the nerve root, but in some people the virus will reactivate the sores from time to time. Other people will never have any more sores after the first outbreak. And many people who come into contact with the virus never actually get any sores, possibly because their bodies have already built up a resistance to the virus.