MY GOD! HERPES. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO?
Herpes has become a cause of tremendous anxiety and
worry. If you have just been diagnosed as having herpes, remember - many people who get
one episode of herpes never get a second. And those who do get further outbreaks can learn
to live with their herpes.
WHAT IS HERPES?
Herpes is a viral infection of Herpes virus. There are
many different types of herpes virus. They include Herpes Zoster (commonly known as
shingles) and herpes simplex virus. Here we shall talk only about herpes simplex virus.
There are two types of herpes simplex virus:
- Herpes simplex Virus type 1 can cause sores around the
mouth and nose, and more rarely in the eyes or in the genital or anal area
- Herpes simplex Virus type 2 can cause sores in the genital
and anal area and occasionally in the mouth.
The two types are very similar and can only be identified
by laboratory tests. Genital infections caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 are
usually less severe than those caused by type 2.
Its possible for a herpes simplex
infection to pass from the mouth to the genital area: either through oral genital
contact during oral sex or, much more rarely, by self infection - for example the virus
from a mouth sore can be transferred on the finger to the genital area.
| Genital Herpes | Mouth Herpes |
HOW TO PREVENT REPEATED OUTBREAKS?
Not everyone gets further outbreaks after
the first one. In fact about half the people who get a herpes simplex outbreak never get
another one. In those who do, the symptoms are usually milder and clear up more quickly -
usually in 3 to 5 days. With some people, the outbreaks happen less frequently as time
goes on and eventually may stop altogether. Unfortunately with others this is not the
SOME FACTORS, WHICH MIGHT BRING ON AN OUTBREAK
- Some people find that they get an outbreak when they have
been feeling run down or under stress.
- Women may find they are more likely to have an outbreak at
a particular time in their menstrual cycle.
- Friction from sexual intercourse or from masturbation.
- Tight clothing
- Nylon underwear
HERPES AND PREGNANCY
A woman might infect the baby if she has
her first outbreak early in pregnancy or just before delivery. Most pregnant women who
have second or subsequent outbreaks have a normal delivery.
If one gets the first outbreak of genital herpes, closer to delivery time, she may be advised to have a
Caesarean delivery to reduce the risk of infecting the baby.
HOW DOES THE VIRUS WORK?
The herpes simplex virus gets into a
womans body either through the thin membranes of the vagina or vulva. It gets into a
mans body through the membranes of the penis.
The virus is usually passed on through
direct skin contact from someone who is having an outbreak of herpes at the time. In a few
cases where people get herpes out of the blue, it might be that theyve caught it
from a partner who already has herpes but has never noticed any of the symptoms.
About 2 to 14 days after the virus has
entered the body, small blisters appear. These are painful or itchy. They fill up with a
clear and yellowish liquid. The tops come off to reveal painful ulcers which dry, scab
over and heal in 2 to 3 weeks.
The virus affects the area where it
enters the body. It then enters the nerve fibres. Some people may notice a tingling
sensation when this happens; others wont notice anything. The virus then travels up
the nerve and ends in the nerve root.
As far as we know, the virus will stay there for the rest
of the persons life. It doesnt seem to do any harm to the nerve root, but in
some people the virus will reactivate the sores from time to time. Other people will never
have any more sores after the first outbreak. And many people who come into contact with
the virus never actually get any sores, possibly because their bodies have already built
up a resistance to the virus.