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What Is Herpes – Simple Guide To Cold And Genital Sores

What Is Herpes – Simple Guide To Cold And Genital Sores

What Is Herpes – Simple Guide To Cold And Genital Sores

Herpes is arguably the most feared STI. Besides, it is almost impossible to successfully and completely eradicate, and it surely is one that doesn't spare you in terms of the extent and ferocity it spreads.

Herpes is caused by a virus called Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). The virus occurs in two ways which are responsible for how herpes manifests itself in the body. Most commonly, the virus attacks the oral area, i.e., the mouth and face, resulting in cold mouth sores and the genital region, mostly referred to as genital herpes. The two types of HSV include;

  • HSV1, which is responsible for the oral herpes infection.
  • HSV2 is the primary cause of genital herpes.


People fear herpes because this virus literally lives with you for the entirety of your life. And, it can be transmitted very simply like sharing a plate. HSV1 can be transmitted from one person to another through direct contact. An infected adult can transmit this virus to a child just by coming in contact with this kid. From then on, the child is HSV1 seropositive for the rest of their lives.

HSV1 spreads through any kind of direct contact with an infected individual. Things like oral sex, kissing, sharing a bite, etc., will definitely get you hooked.


You only get to contract this ‘bad boy’ through sexual interactions with an infected person. Unlike HSV1, this virus is spread by coming in contact with a herpes sore.


Herpes can be diagnosed by observing symptoms. The most common symptoms are sores on the genital parts accompanied by pain and itching when passing urine. You're also likely to have mouth sores. The doctor will examine your sores and may ask about more symptoms you may be carrying.

Lab testing is the surest way; where the doctor sends your sore swab to the lab for herpes culture. In the event genital and mouth, sores are not there, the doctor may order blood antibody tests to ascertain HSV presence.

Alternatively, you can shop for home herpes testing kits. They are available online.

Symptoms of herpes simplex

  • Itching
  • Blistering sores on genitals and the mouth
  • Burning sensation when passing urine
  • Fever
  • Tiredness
  • Lack of appetite
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headaches

If left uncontrolled, HSV can spread to the eyes and result in a condition called herpes keratitis. This infection is responsible for eye discharge, pain, and feeling gritty.


The cure for this disease does not exist. The treatment focuses on ways to mitigate its outbreak and ridding of sores. Sometimes, the mouth and genital sores may disappear without treatment; however, you will need further medication to keep them at bay for extended periods.

The medication is meant to deter the virus and play as a preventative agent in further transmissions. You can get pills, injections, or creams for application. There are three antiviral drugs used in the treatment of herpes simplex. They are;

Zovirax (Acyclovir)

Famvir (Famciclovir)

Valtrex (Valacyclovir)

These drugs, according to physicians, are essentially the same. However, the difference is drawn to how an individual takes them. The CDC recommends these dosages;

  • 400 mg of Acyclovir orally thrice a day for 7 – 10 days.
  • 200 mg of Acyclovir orally five times daily for 7 – 10 days.
  • One gram ofValacyclovirorally twice a day for 7 - 10 days.
  • 250 mg of Famciclovir orally thrice a day for 7 - 10 days.

Herpes simplex risk groups

Herpes simplex is not so discriminative. Everyone is at risk of contracting the virus. Here are some of the groups that are highly exposed to herpes.

  • Engaging in unprotected sex.
  • Keeping multiple sex partners.
  • Engaging in sex at tender ages.
  • Females.
  • Predisposition to other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Weakened immune system.
  • Unborn infants from infected expectant mothers.

Genital Herpes and Pregnancy

Expectant mothers are amongst the risk group likely to contract the herpes simplex virus. In fact, in the likelihood they that contract both HSV1 and 2, their infants are highly exposed and may transmit the virus during delivery. As we earlier noted herein, once the baby is infected, they get to stay with the virus in their bodies for the rest of their lives. Additionally, if this condition is not managed, it could prove devastating to the child.

In some cases, mothers with herpes may deliver babies without transmitting the virus. Still, it is pertinent that expectant mothers avoid attracting foreign infections to protect their unborn infants. You can further enhance your protection net by visiting prenatal clinics regularly.

During these visits, a pregnant mother is advised to disclose to the doctor if they have been exposed to herpes or have symptoms. Sometimes the signs may not manifest in time or as clearly for a straightforward diagnosis. That is why a mother’s concern and a doctor’s initiative ay save the unborn child.

Anecdotal findings have proved that herpes in expectant mothers may experience complications with the pregnancy; to an extent, some may lead to miscarriages or premature births.

Since drugs may affect the child's development, treatment of herpes may be instituted once the mother is in the late stages of the pregnancy. The medication will significantly reduce the chances of transmitting the virus to their babies. However, the other option is delivery through C-section.

The bottom line

Herpes simplex is a viral disease caused by Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). The infection manifests in two common ways. One is through mouth colds – caused by HSV1 and another affects the genital parts – caused by HSV2. Herpes can be diagnosed through PCR tests or through blood work. However, there is no known treatment for the virus. The drugs on the market, such as Valtrex, only serve to manage the situation by preventing the disease prevalence and lowering outbreaks.