Button, sore: How to know if it’s herpes?

Herpes is a common and incurable sexually transmitted disease. Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of this virus: herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2). Both viruses are transmitted through close contact with someone who has the virus. HSV-1 is usually associated with “cold sores” around the mouth, while HSV-2 most commonly affects the genital area.

However, research has shown that about half of new cases of genital herpes in developed countries are caused by HSV-1, not HSV-2. This is because a person with oral herpes caused by HSV-1 can transmit it to their partner’s genitals during oral sex. You can also get genital herpes by having vaginal or anal sex with someone who has the virus.

Herpes: a first major outbreak then other weaker ones

A first outbreak of genital herpes can cause multiple blisters that rupture and leave painful sores that take a week or more to heal. After the first flare, you may have further flares, especially if you are infected with HSV-2. But repeated flare-ups tend to be shorter and less severe each time you have one.

That said, many people infected with HSV have no or very mild symptoms, so they are often unaware they have the virus. They may also mistake their symptoms for those of another STD or skin condition, such as a pimple or ingrown hair in the genital area.

The positive side of this situation is that the symptoms of herpes can be very mild. Instead, it explains how and why the infection is so widespread: If you don’t know you have it, you’re unlikely to take steps to avoid spreading it. And herpes can be passed from person to person even when there are no symptoms.

Once you have herpes, you will always have it. There really is no cure for herpes. But there are drugs that can prevent or shorten flare-ups and reduce the risk of transmission to intimate partners. However, if you have herpes, whether or not you are taking medication, you should tell anyone you have sex with so they know the risks. The risk of transmission of the virus is higher when lesions or other symptoms are present, but it can be transmitted at any time. Also, while using condoms can help reduce the risk of transmitting herpes, it does not guarantee that your partner will not catch it.

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How to recognize herpes?

You may not experience any symptoms of genital herpes, but if you do, they can be mild or severe. Symptoms may include painful blisters or lesions in the genital area or on the buttocks, skin rash or burning sensation when urinating. However, these symptoms can also occur with other sexually transmitted diseases. Although your doctor can often make a diagnosis based on your symptoms, in some cases you will need to undergo tests, from a wound swab or blood sample, to determine the cause of your symptoms. .

A genital herpes outbreak heals on its own, but once you’ve been infected, especially if you have HSV-2, you’ll likely have occasional outbreaks for the rest of your life. Taking an antiviral medication can help speed healing of genital herpes lesions, reduce the number of outbreaks, and lower the risk of transmitting the virus to sexual partners. But even with medication, you can still pass genital herpes to another person during sexual activity, so it’s important to tell anyone you plan to have sex with that you have sex. herpes. Using condoms also reduces, but does not eliminate, the risk of transmitting herpes.

Oral herpes: recognizing cold sores

Oral herpes (also called cold sores or cold sores) is usually caused by HSV-1, but it can also be caused by HSV-2, which is usually associated with genital herpes. Not everyone infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 has symptoms of oral herpes, but many people do. Between 2 and 20 days after contact with someone infected with the herpes virus, you may feel a burning or tingling sensation around your mouth. Then, blisters and sores may appear around the mouth or in the nose area. Sometimes cold sores form inside the mouth, on the gums or on the palate.

Cold sore blisters can appear in different sizes. Some are more painful than others, and they can last 7 to 10 days. As they heal, they rupture, crust over and eventually leave an area of ​​red skin.

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Although the skin lesions of oral herpes usually heal completely, as in the case of genital herpes, the virus can remain in your body and reappear in the same area over and over again, or in a new area around the mouth or nose. The exact causes of flare-ups are not known, but some common triggers are stress, lack of sleep, too much sun exposure, cold weather and, in women, hormonal changes.

Cold sores can be spread through kissing and sharing kitchen utensils, cups and glasses, straws, lip balm, or anything else that has come in contact with a cold sore. When you have cold sores or cold sores on your mouth, you should refrain from oral sex because you can transmit the herpes virus to your partner’s genitals.


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