When most people hear about the word herpes will conjure an image of genital herpes, which is an incurable disease that is transmitted by sexual intercourse and causes blisters. On the other hand, herpes is a family of viruses that is very widespread and can cause many conditions affecting the skin.
An estimate of one out of six people may have some form of herpes in their body either active or inactive. Herpes virus forms include genital herpes, cold sores, chicken pox, mild hepatitis, mononucleosis, and shingles. All these skin conditions are caused by herpes virus family.
There are two similar conditions known as dermatitis herpetiformis and herpes gestationis that both produce herpes-like blisters on the skin but are not brought about the herpes virus. Many diseases that are brought by herpes may differ from one another but they all have common traits: very contagious, can survive for long period of time, not curable.
There are around 30 million Americans who are infected with HSV1 and despite numerous researches and studies over many years there has been small success in developing a cure or an effective vaccine.
Many viruses of the herpes family do not recur after the initial outbreak like chicken pox for example. On the other hand, all herpes viruses, when not active, stay dormant in the nerve tissues and escaping detection by immune system.
It is still unclear why and how latent herpes virus suddenly triggers into active infection. On the other hand, it is known that some stresses to the immune system trigger an outbreak. These stresses may include menstruation, over exposure to sunlight, poor diet, emotional stress, injury, illness, and so on. A strong immune system lessens outbreak occurrences, though outbreaks may trigger throughout your life. Studies have proven that shingles and chicken pox have recurrence of zero while HSV1 has recurrence of 14% and HSV2 has 60%.
The most common cause of genital infections is HSV2 and HSV1 causes infection on the lips. However, either virus can be transmitted from one location to another. Studies have proven that herpes sores can also trigger other types of infections.
Women with herpes may increase the risk of having cervical cancer and it is crucial that they have cervical smear test every year.
Whether you have been tested for herpes, practicing common sense on how to not to spread it to other people is a good move. For example, avoid kissing other people.
If you are sexually active, then practice safe sex and avoid having sex with any partner who is showing symptoms of an outbreak until such time that the symptoms are gone. While most male genital herpes outbreaks are easily noticed, female genital herpes are hard to notice. In fact, most women with genital herpes do not know that they have it until they transmit the virus to other partner.
If you had herpes before, avoid getting over exhausted or allowing yourself to get stressed. When you are fatigued, the immune system will not function properly and you may be more vulnerable to herpes outbreak recurrences.