Herpes is a viral condition that affects more than half the world’s population. It not only causes you pain and embarrassment but also affects your sex life. Although herpes is so common, people don’t actually know about it very well. To help get the answers you need, here are questions you can ask your doctor about herpes.
1. What type of herpes do I have?
Herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). It includes two main types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is more common than HSV-2. It causes oral herpes, characterized by the appearance of sores on the lips or around the mouth. HSV-2, on the other hand, causes genital herpes, characterized by sores on or around the vagina or penis.
Both forms of herpes are very painful. If untreated, they may return frequently. More seriously, they may lead to further infections.
2. Is herpes contagious? How can it be transmitted?
Herpes is highly contagious. Any kind of contact with the secretions of an infected person can lead to transmission. Kissing and skin-to-skin contact are two most common ways to spread HSV-1. You may also get HSV-1 from sharing a cup or eating utensils with an infected person. For HSV-2, sexual contact can make the virus spread to others. Using condoms during sex is the only way to reduce your risk of getting HSV-2. However, condom does not cover the entire genital area. So, you still can contract this virus while using a condom.
3. Can I get herpes from oral or anal sex?
Herpes can be transmitted even when the sores are not visible on your skin. Sexual contact is the most common way of spreading the infection. In fact, any kind of sexual contact with someone who has herpes can put you at risk. Vaginal, anal, and oral sex are common ways. Most commonly, HSV-1 appears around the mouth. But, it can be transmitted to the genitals during oral sex. HSV-2, on the other hand, commonly occurs in the genital area. But it can be spread to the mouth through oral sex. Also, you may get anal herpes if you have anal sex with someone who has genital herpes.
4. Can I get genital herpes without having sex?
You don’t have to have sex to get genital herpes. The virus can be spread easily in non-sexual ways, for example during pregnancy and delivery. A mother with genital herpes may pass the virus on to her baby through delivery.
5. How do I know if I have herpes?
The most common signs of herpes are blisters or sores on your mouth or genitals. Other symptoms include:
- Itching, tingling, or burning sensations
- Pain or swelling around the affected area
- Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills, headache, or fatigue
- Swollen lymph nodes and muscle aches
To confirm the diagnosis, check out with your doctor.
6. Can I have herpes and never show symptoms?
Herpes symptoms often show up around two weeks after infection. But most of the time, the virus does not cause any symptoms. That’s why many people don’t know they have herpes until they experience visible sores. Usually, the virus that causes herpes lies dormant in the body. When the immune system is weak, it reactivates and causes outbreaks.
7. Herpes and cold sores: Are They the Same?
Cold sores and herpes are basically the same thing. Cold sores are often referred to as oral herpes. They are caused by HSV-1, characterized by sores around the mouth. Cold sores may develop on the nose and fingers as well. Some people also call cold sores “fever blisters”. It is because these painful blisters often appear when we are sick or have an illness.
8. Can herpes be cured?
Unfortunately, there is no permanent cure for the virus that causes herpes. But, you can treat and prevent herpes outbreaks by using antiviral drugs. You can find them in topical forms, tablets or capsules. Prosurx is one of the most common creams for herpes. It has been shown to be effective at relieving symptoms and preventing future outbreaks. You should apply Prosurx to the affected area 2 to 3 times a day. Repeat this treatment for a few days to get the best results.
Other drugs that can help treat herpes are acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir. You can ask your doctor if these meds have potential side effects for you.
9. What are my risks of contracting herpes?
There are a number of factors that can make you more likely to get herpes. These risk factors are:
- Having unprotected sex
- Sharing personal items, such as lip balm, lipstick, cups, toothbrushes and towels
- Having prolonged, skin-to-skin contact
- Having a weakened immune system
- Suffering from viral infections, such as HIV
- Having dental trauma (which may trigger oral herpes)
10. Will antibiotics help herpes?
Antibiotics are used to treat bacterial infections. So, you can’t use it to treat herpes, a viral infection. To this case, using antibiotics can cause unpleasant side effects. In the long-term, they can reduce the effectiveness for you in the future. So, don’t overuse antibiotics and talk to a doctor if you are considering taking any medicine.
11. How can I prevent herpes?
It is possible to prevent herpes if you don’t have it yet. The few tips below can be helpful for you.
- Don’t have sex at a very young age
- Don’t have sex with multiple partners
- Avoid having sex with a person who has multiple partners
- Practice safe sex and avoid oral sex
- Use protection like condoms and dental dams during sex
- Don’t touch another person’s herpes sores
- Avoid sharing items with a person who has herpes
If you’ve already had herpes, you can stop others from getting the virus by:
- Use medication to lower your risk of spreading herpes
- Be honest with your partner about your disease
- Avoid kissing others when you are having a herpes sore
- Abstain from sex during a herpes outbreak
- Know when an outbreak is coming to stop it timely