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Understanding Herpes: Types, Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Herpes Consult

Herpes is a common viral infection that comes in two main forms: oral herpes and genital herpes. Caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), this infection can cause discomfort and inconvenience. With proper understanding and management, individuals can live healthy and fulfilling lives. In this blog post, we will delve into the details of both types of herpes, their symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention strategies.

Types of Herpes:
1. Genital Herpes: Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused primarily by HSV-2, although HSV-1 can also lead to genital herpes. It manifests as painful sores on or around the genital and anal areas. The virus is transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, or oral sex.

2. Oral Herpes: Oral herpes, often referred to as cold sores or fever blisters, is commonly caused by HSV-1. It results in painful sores around the mouth and on the lips. It can be transmitted through direct contact with the affected area or by sharing personal items like utensils or towels.

Genital Herpes Symptoms: Initial symptoms include small, painful blisters that may burst and leave sores. These may be accompanied by itching, burning, and flu-like symptoms such as fever and body aches. Recurring outbreaks tend to be less severe and may be preceded by tingling or itching sensations.

Oral Herpes Symptoms: Cold sores typically start as tingling sensations followed by the appearance of small, fluid-filled blisters around the mouth or lips. These blisters may be painful and can form crusts as they heal.

Initial Episode Symptoms:
The initial episode of herpes is often the most severe. Symptoms may include:
- Painful blisters or sores
- Itching and burning
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Flu-like symptoms (fever, body aches)

Recurring Symptoms:
Subsequent outbreaks tend to be less severe and may involve:
- Tingling or itching sensations before sores appear
- Smaller and less painful sores
- Shorter duration of symptoms

Herpes is primarily caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), with HSV-1 causing oral herpes and HSV-2 causing genital herpes. The virus is highly contagious and can be transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, including sexual contact or oral-genital contact.

HSV and HIV:
Having genital herpes can increase the risk of acquiring or transmitting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This is because the presence of open sores provides an entry point for HIV.

When to See a Doctor:
If you suspect you have herpes or experience any symptoms, it's important to consult a healthcare professional. They can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment. Contact us at the number below to schedule a consult with one of our healthcare providers. 

Treatments and Medications:
While there is no cure for herpes, antiviral medications can help manage symptoms and reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks. These medications may be taken during outbreaks or daily to suppress the virus.

Prevention Tips:
- Practice safe sex using condoms or dental dams.
- Avoid sexual contact during active outbreaks.
- Be cautious when sharing personal items like towels or utensils.
- Limit contact with active cold sores to prevent oral herpes transmission.

Q: Can I get herpes from kissing?
A: Yes, oral herpes (cold sores) can be transmitted through kissing, especially if there's an active sore.

Q: Is herpes curable?
A: No, there is no cure for herpes, but antiviral medications can help manage and control symptoms.

Q: Can I transmit herpes even if I don't have symptoms?
A: Yes, herpes can be transmitted even when there are no visible symptoms, a condition known as asymptomatic shedding.

Q: Can I still have a normal sex life if I have herpes?
A: Yes, with proper management and precautions, individuals with herpes can have fulfilling sexual relationships.

Herpes is a common viral infection that comes in the forms of genital herpes and oral herpes. While there is no cure, understanding the symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention strategies can empower individuals to manage the infection effectively and lead healthy lives. Consulting a healthcare professional is crucial for proper diagnosis and guidance on managing herpes.

Complete Healthcare for Women - Obstetrics and Gynecology


Richard Lorenzo, D.O.

Kortney Jones ARNP

Dr. Lorenzo Richard Lorenzo, DO Dr. Lorenzo is also a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a Fellow of the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists. He provides gynecological and obstetric services, including prenatal care, pregnancy care, infertility, and gynecology. Dr. Lorenzo is proficient in advanced surgical techniques, including minimally-invasive procedures, as well as surgery for abnormal uterine bleeding, endometriosis, and hysterectomy. He has specialized training in high-risk obstetrics and minimally invasive surgical techniques, including minimally invasive hysterectomy.

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