Everything you need to know about herpes simplex virus

Everything you need to know about herpes simplex virus

Some sexually transmitted diseases are treatable and some are not. Herpes is one of those sexually transmitted diseases without a cure. This explains why herpes simplex is considered to be a terribly contagious disease. Read on to learn about this virus if you want to know how to prevent this disease or how to manage it if you already have it.

herpes simplex

To demonstrate how serious it is, pregnant women are tested for the disease before their expected date of delivery (EDD). If the virus is detected in the mother’s body, she is given antiviral medications to help protect the baby. In most cases, a caesarean section is recommended so as to reduce the risk of mother to child transmission. This virus is dangerous and extremely harmful to people with low immune systems. Infants fall into the category of persons with extremely low immune systems.

What is the medical definition of herpes simplex?

Herpes simplex (commonly known as herpes) is a viral disease that is highly contagious. This infection attacks the anus, the vagina, the mouth and the throat.

Categories of herpes simplex virus

The herpes simplex virus can be categorized into:

  • HSV-1: which is chiefly transmitted via the mouth. Commonly detected around the oral region, HSV-1 is the main cause of oral herpes. Symptoms include fever, blisters around the mouth and the face, and cold sores.
  • HSV-2: This types of herpes simplex virus is transmitted to the genitalia and anal region via oral and genital contact. HSV-2 is classed under sexually transmitted infections. It is the primary cause of genital herpes.

Can you cure herpes?

There is no cure for HSV-1 and HSV-2. Once contracted, patients have to live it with—and manage symptoms—for the rest of their lives. According to a World Health Organization (WHO) report, 67% of the global population under the age of fifty live with the HSV-1 infection. Approximately 11% of the global population (between the ages of 15 - 49) have HSV-2 infection.

This means that some people carry live with these viruses even though they are not symptomatic.

Symptoms of herpes

Carriers of HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections don’t often exhibit symptoms. Patients might experience mild symptoms that are concealable. It is impossible to notice at first glance a carrier of the herpes simplex virus. According to medical experts, the infection can be transmitted even when a carrier isn’t showing any of the symptoms.

Not all cases of oral and genital herpes are asymptomatic, Infected persons may experience the following symptoms:

  • Painful blisters at the site of the infection
  • Burning, tingling or itching
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Eye infections
  • Ulcers at the site of infection
  • Cold sores
  • Fevers


The diseases develop when a person is directly exposed to the virus.

Oral contact is the major mode of transmission for herpes simplex virus type 1. The following activities can increase the risk of contracting herpes simplex virus:

  • Sharing dental floss
  • Using an infected person’s lip balm or lip gloss
  • Sharing toothbrushes
  • Kissing infected persons or carriers
  • Sharing infected tools or objects
  • Sexual activity with an infected person or carrier

The main cause of HSV-2 is sexual intercourse. Uninfected persons can become infected if, during the course of physical activity, they exchange bodily fluids with an infected person. This disease is primarily spread through:

  • Anal sex
  • Oral sex
  • Vaginal sex

herpes simplex

Risk factors

The herpes simplex virus is no respecter of persons. In other words, everyone is at risk of contracting the virus. People who expose themselves to infected persons stand a higher risk of contracting the disease.

However, the following risk factors increase the certainty of contracting the disease:

  • Unprotected anal, vaginal or oral sex
  • Early exposure to sex as a minor
  • Menstruation
  • Newborns can contract the disease from infected mothers during childbirth
  • Exposure to another STI: AIDS or other medications can cause immunosuppression.
  • Low immune system
  • Stress
  • Keeping multiple sex partners

What medications can help with the management of herpes simplex?

Medical experts are still trying to find a cure for herpes simplex virus. Researchers have made remarkable progress in the area of producing herpes vaccines. In the meantime, the available medications can help to:

  • Reduce the severity of existing symptoms
  • Lessen the frequency of episodes
  • Minimize the risk of infecting others with the virus

Below are some medications that your doctors may prescribe in the treatment of herpes simplex virus:

1)      Antiviral balms and ointments for infected sores.

2)      Acyclovir

3)      Famvir

4)      Zovirax,

5)      Famciclovir

6)      Valtrex

7)      Valacyclovir

8)      Warm baths are recommended as an effective pain relief

Herpes simplex is quite a common disease. In some cases, infected persons do not show symptoms. In some cases, the symptoms disappear after 7 to 10 days. Others experience symptoms and occasional outbreaks.

Antiviral medications are available to help patients to manage the disease. No cure exists for the illness. If you haven’t contracted the disease, protect yourself. And should you start to notice any of the symptoms, please see a medical expert.

Resources: The World health Organisation 


Read Also: HIV And AIDS: Causes And Differences


Written by

Julie Adeboye