The term herpes applies to more than just the commonly known sexually transmitted disease, genital herpes. There are many viruses that belong to the herpes family. Cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1. Genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2.
Herpes is a very common virus that affects millions of people in the United States as well as other countries. Unfortunately, there is no cure. Studies are being performed every day to find new treatments for herpes and hopefully a cure. Scientists are looking for a vaccine that can prevent people from contracting the virus.
For those who do have herpes, treatment has come a long way in giving you a more comfortable life. There are medications to prevent outbreaks and medications to shorten the duration of outbreaks and even medications to try to relieve discomfort from the outbreak.
Over 80% of the people infected with herpes may not even know they are infected. This is because they have no symptoms or they do not recognize the symptoms when they occur. Often they may mistake their symptoms for something else, such as an insect bite. They may have moments of just generally not feeling well or may experience itching and burning in their genital area that they don’t think about once it has passed.
It is still possible to spread herpes to others even if you are not showing signs so it is important that people recognize the signs of herpes and seek diagnosis and treatment. If you feel you may be experiencing symptoms of herpes, you should get to a physician right away for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The Many Symptoms of Herpes
It is important to know the symptoms if you think you may have herpes. Some symptoms of herpes are harder to notice. In fact, some people have herpes with no symptoms at all. The most common symptom of herpes is the bumps or blisters that show up in the infected area and usually are painful.
With oral herpes, these blisters (or cold sores) show up on the lips and mouth area. They can also appear in the mouth and on the gums and are very painful.
Symptoms usually last from 2-3 weeks and are very painful. They may interfere with a person’s ability to eat.
Other symptoms are:
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- Swollen and sore gums
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen throat and sore throat
Many people may get their initial contact with oral herpes when they are very young and may not remember. Recurrences can then occur when the person is older in times of stress or sickness.
What Are Genital Herpes Symptoms
The signs of genital herpes are similar although they appear in a different location. Genital herpes symptoms involve sores and blisters on the penis, vagina, vulva, and anus and even on the cervix of women. These blisters can vary in appearance according to the person. They are often watery and will burst and become open sores that are very painful.
You can also experience pain and itchiness in your genitals and flu-like symptoms such as fever, head ache and body aches.
The lymph nodes in your groin will swell during an outbreak of herpes but most people will not notice this on their own. Women may also experience painful urination.
With a first episode, symptoms usually appear within 2 to 10 days of the initial contact with the virus. The blisters will usually burst and be very painful and eventually will dry up and scab over with no scarring.
Often during an outbreak, blisters may not appear but shedding occurs. With shedding, tissue that contains the virus “sheds” and herpes can be spread to sexual partners.
Women may get blisters inside on the cervix and none visible on the outside but she will usually experience pelvic pain and vaginal discharge that will alert something is wrong.
Regular blood tests may spot certain sexually transmitted diseases but unfortunately do not always detect herpes. If you are having symptoms or what you feel may be symptoms, you need to get to a doctor right away. If you have sores or blisters, these blisters can be examined to determine if they are being caused by the herpes virus.