Learn about herpes simplex and how to protect yourself from it

Herpes is a common virus that can manifest in different ways. Various types of herpes simplex can affect different areas of the body, and often the symptoms are mildly uncomfortable and annoying, but can become more serious. Discover how to protect yourself from the virus, identify an outbreak and treat the symptoms.

Herpes Types and Symptoms

The most common strain of the herpes simplex virus is type 1 (HSV-1), which typically causes sores around the mouth. Many people develop this type of herpes virus in childhood, and it is relatively easy to treat with topical medication and patience. Herpes simplex 2, or genital herpes, is generally passed through sexual contact, and can be more painful, but may also go unnoticed for years. These herpes symptoms can include sores or ulcers on the genitals that can become irritated and painful. Though they may bear some resemblance, genital warts are caused by a different virus.

Herpes zoster is a strain that causes the chicken pox infection in children, and can reappear in adulthood as a shingles outbreak. Like herpes simplex, this infection cannot be eliminated from the body, and can eventually travel through nerves to cause viral infection on the skin. It can be an especially painful condition, resulting in a rash of blisters on a specific area of the body, often at times when your immune system is compromised.

Although a person can never get rid of the herpes virus once they have become infected, there is a variety of treatment options available. A doctor will often be able to diagnose a herpes outbreak at first sight, but a blood test may be ordered to confirm their suspicions.

Herpes Treatment

Some cases of herpes are mild, and the symptoms will disappear without treatment in a few days. However a more severe or prolonged outbreak may require topical or oral herpes medication. The first outbreak of genital herpes can be quite painful and may resemble the symptoms of another STD, such as chlamydia, so it will be important to see a doctor to confirm the nature of the infection. Along with genital sores or blisters, you may suffer from a headache, fever, discharge or swollen lymph nodes in the groin. In this case, herpes treatment will likely take the form of antiviral medication, to be taken orally for the duration of the outbreak.

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