Herpes simplex is a disease caused by a virus that attacks parts of the skin, mouth and genitals. Herpes simplex virus is categorized into 2 types: type 1 (HSV-1 or oral herpes) and type 2 (HSV-2 or genital herpes).
HSV-1 causes sores (sometimes called fever blisters or cold sores) around the mouth and lips. HSV-1 can cause genital herpes, but most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2. Meanwhile, HSV-2 can cause an infected person to have sores around the genitals or rectum.
Causes of Herpes Simplex
HSV-1, which is transmitted through oral secretions or skin sores, can spread through kissing or items that are used together, such as toothbrushes or eating utensils. Frequent sexual activities by oral means, genital herpes can also be caused by the HSV-1 virus and oral herpes by HSV-2.
In general, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has genital infection with HSV-2. HSV-1 and HSV-2 can spread even if there are no injuries. Pregnant women with genital herpes should discuss with a doctor because genital herpes can be transmitted to the baby during childbirth.
Please note, recurrence of herpes can be caused by the following conditions:
- Common illnesses (from minor illnesses to serious conditions).
- Physical or emotional stress.
- Immunosuppression due to AIDS or drugs such as chemotherapy or steroids.
- Trauma to the affected area, including sexual activity.
Both types of this virus are very contagious and transmission occurs through direct contact from an infected person. Herpes sometimes does not cause certain symptoms, but an infected person can still transmit the virus. Because the symptoms are quite mild, around 80 percent of infected people don’t realize that they have herpes.
Symptoms of Herpes Simplex
Symptoms can be seen from the emergence of several blisters filled with water clustered over a reddish rash, often accompanied by pain, itching and burning. When the blisters break, they will leave a reddish wound which will then dry up into crusting and eventually heal.
The herpes simplex virus can become latent or inactive in the body for some time. But this virus can be re-active and trigger the onset of symptoms of genital herpes. In other words, after the symptoms of the first infection disappear, it doesn’t mean that the virus has also disappeared from your body. However, the virus may still be hiding in nerve cells and can become active again when the body’s immunity is low.
For the first time infected with herpes, may not be aware of certain symptoms. As a result, you do not know that the body has been infected with the herpes virus. The following are symptoms of genital herpes, including:
- Feeling pain when urinating.
- Lower back pain.
- Experiencing flu symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, and fatigue.
- Open sores or blisters on the cervix.
- Fluid that comes out of the vagina.
- Sensation of pain, itching, or tingling around the genital area or anal area.
Diagnosis of Herpes Simplex
Often, the appearance of herpes has a distinctive appearance and does not require testing to diagnose the disease. But if you are not sure, herpes simplex can be diagnosed with DNA testing and viral culture.
Your doctor may take a fluid sample from an emerging blister. To find out if you have genital herpes, this sample will be taken and examined in a laboratory. In addition to tests using herpes wound fluid samples, the presence of antibodies to the herpes virus can also be checked through blood tests.
If you experience certain health conditions other than herpes, you may need to see a specialist to receive special treatment. Infection that occurs can affect other parts of the body.
Herpes Simplex Treatment
Although there is no cure for herpes, treatment can relieve the symptoms. Meanwhile, certain drugs can reduce the pain caused, such as Famvir, Zovirax, Acyclovir, and Valtrex. Use one of the drugs to treat the symptoms of herpes.
If the symptoms of infection are not too severe, consumption of antiviral drugs may not be necessary. Instead, the doctor will advise the patient to relieve symptoms that arise with self-care at home. The following are some things that can be done:
- Take a bath with warm water and use a numbing cream to relieve the pain caused.
- To alleviate pain, cover the wound with ice cubes wrapped in cloth. Do not apply ice directly to the injured surface.
- Clean the wound or ulcer so as not to become an infection while accelerating healing. This cleaning can be done by using plain water or salt water.