Prevalence of Herpes
30 million americans are estimated to have the herpes virus. There are about 500,00 new cases each year.
Transmission of Herpes
Herpes is an infection that stays in one spot in the body, its spread by skin-to-skin contact. Herpes simplex virus-2 is usually spread during sex (vaginal, anal, and oral).
Herpes can be passed whenever it is present on the skin, such as right before an outbreak when no symptoms are present.
Babies can get Herpes at birth if their mothers are having an outbreak at the time.
Herpes symplex virus-1, cold sores, or HSV-2 can be passed to the genitals and Herpes symplex virus-2 can be passed to the mouth during oral sex.
Incubation of Herpes
The first outbreak can happen 2-10 days after infection. However, most people with Herpes never have symptoms. In other cases, the first outbreak may happen years after the virus is picked up.
Symptoms of Herpes
The first outbreak last 2-3 weeks.
It begins with a tingling or burning feeling a discharge from the vagina, a feeling of pressure in the abdomen, and pain or soreness in the buttocks, legs, and groin area.
Small red bumps appear near where the virus entered the body, this can be anywhere on the body such as, buttocks, thighs, mouth, fingers, penis, vagina or anus. These turn into blisters or open sores, scab over, and heal without scars.
The outbreak can include swollen lymph glands, muscle aches, headache, fever, painful or difficult urination, and nausea. Symptoms can be so mild that people do not notice their outbreaks.
Treatment of Herpes
There is no cure, but there is a drug which can decrease the pain and length of outbreaks.
Acyclovir (Zovirax) is a prescription drug in pill form. Acyclovir also comes in a ointment but does not work as well.
Aspirin or ibuprofen can be taken to reduce pain, fever, and aches.
Recurrence of Herpes
The virus can become active now and then.
The symptoms of repeat outbreaks are like those of the first but milder and last 4-14 days. These outbreaks are singled by tingling in the genitals, pain in the legs or buttocks, and itching.
This phase begins a few hours to 2 days befor the blister appears. How often and how severe the outbreaks are varies. Some people have three a month; others three in their whole life. The number of repeat outbreaks seems to decrease after five years.
The cause of repeat outbreaks is not known and cannot be predicted.
Some outbreaks in some people are triggered by stress, injuries, illness, sunlight, fatigue, and menstruation.
People should avoid sex during prodrome and until the sores are fully healed.
All women with Herpes, should have a yearly papsmear.
A pregnant women with Herpes need to be checked for outbreaks near her time of delivery.
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