By: Sehr Hameed and Keilyn Micheals

What Are Herpes?

A virus causing contagious sores, most often around the mouth or on the genitals.

  • Genital Herpes: A common sexually transmitted infection marked by genital pain and sores.

  • Cold Sores: Infection with the herpes simplex virus around the border of the lips.

How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed?

  • There is currently no cure for this virus. Treatment focuses on getting rid of sores and limiting outbreaks.

  • It is possible that your sores will disappear without treatment. However, your doctor may determine you need one or more of the following medications:

    • Acyclovir

    • Valacyclovir

    • Famciclovir

These medications can help infected individuals reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others. The medications also help to lower the intensity and frequency of outbreaks. These medications may come in oral (pill) form, or may be applied as a cream. For severe outbreaks, these medications may also be administered by injection.

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Prevention/Protection Against:

  • Although there is no cure for herpes, you can take measures to avoid becoming infected, or to prevent spreading HSV to another person.

  • If you are experiencing an outbreak of HSV-1, some preventative steps to take include:

  • Try to avoid direct physical contact with other people.

  • Don’t share any items that can pass the virus around, such as cups, towels, silverware, clothing, makeup, or lip balm.

  • Don’t participate in oral sex, kissing, or any other type of sexual activity during an outbreak.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and apply medication with cotton swabs to reduce contact with sores.

  • Individuals with HSV-2 should avoid any type of sexual activity with other people during an outbreak. If the individual is not experiencing symptoms but has been diagnosed with the virus, a condom should be used during intercourse. But even when using a condom, the virus can still be passed to a partner from uncovered skin. Women who are pregnant and infected may have to take medicine to prevent the virus from infecting their unborn babies.
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Any Complications It Can Cause In Later Years: (INclude if it Affects Pregnancy)

  • People who become infected with HSV will have the virus for the rest of their lives. Even if it does not manifest symptoms, the virus will continue to live in an infected person’s nerve cells. Some people may experience regular outbreaks. Others will only experience one outbreak after they have been infected and then the virus may become dormant. Even if a virus is dormant, certain stimuli can trigger an outbreak. These include:

      • Stress

      • Mental periods
      • Fever or illness
      • Sun exposure or sunburn
  • A mother can infect her baby during delivery, often fatally. But if a woman had genital herpes before getting pregnant, or if she is first infected early in pregnancy, the chance that her baby will be infected is very low -- less than 1%

  • It is believed that outbreaks may become less intense over time because the body starts creating antibodies. If a generally healthy individual is infected with the virus, there are usually no complications.

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