Herpes

Don't be ignorant about this disease
Image by Nicki Varkevisser CC BY 2.0 Cropped

Risk - any sex with another

Often there are no symptoms

Street names

fever blister, cold sore, the gift that keeps on giving

Facts about herpes

There are many types of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) and 30 million Americans have the virus but not all cases are STDs. The most common are HSV-1 and HSV-2:

HSV-1
Oral Herpes - cold sore or fever blister on your lips. Can be passed to genitals - not always an STD
HSV-2
Genital herpes. Can be passed to the mouth. HSV-2 is sexually transmitted
  • Oral herpes can be passed to genitals, and genital herpes can be passed to the mouth, so both can be an STD.
  • There are about 500,000 new cases of HSV infection each year.
  • Herpes STD is treatable but incurable at this time. The symptoms and sores go away but they come back. Herpes lesions are like blisters full of fluid and are painful. There is no cure! Treatment helps relieve symptoms.
  • Not fatal in adults.
  • Infected women can pass infection to baby at birth causing blindness, brain damage, and death.
  • The virus never goes away but becomes reactive now and then and it is unpredictable when it will return.
  • Repeat symptoms are milder, lasts 4-14 days, starts with tingling, pain, itching.

Incubation

  • Enters skin surface and goes to nerve ganglion.
  • Remains in the nerve forever (that’s why Herpes infections hurt).
  • Blisters appear 2-10 days after having sex. Usually don’t feel bad during this time.
  • It's more common in women than men.

Herpes images

Herpes type 1 – common fever blister. Not an STD but can be passed from one person to another.
Herpes type 2 blisters on the penis. Painful, highly infectious, and CANNOT BE CURED! Blisters will go away and return.
More type 2 blisters.

Symptoms

  • First outbreak of sores lasts 2-3 weeks.
  • Starts as tingling/burning feeling in penis, vaginal discharge in girls, pressure in abdomen, pain/sore buttocks, legs, or groin.
  • Red bumps at site of entrance. Bumps go to blisters or sores, scab over, then heal.
  • Symptoms worse in women than men.

Prevention

  • Only 100% completely safe option - choose not to have sex!
  • Latex condoms help but the virus can be on uncovered skin.
  • Infected persons without symptoms can pass the virus.
  • See your doctor if you have questions or experience symptoms.

Individual help

If you have further questions or concerns about STDs, ask Dr. Mike, an internationally known Clinical Microbiologist specializing in STDs. He has worked extensively with teenage boys and contributed all the information and STD images on the disease pages here.

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