Herpes is an STD that causes sores on the genitals and mouth. It usually does not cause serious health problems but can cause serious complications in some cases. Herpes is actually an umbrella term for several similar viruses. Knowing the difference can help better identify qualified health specialists and chart a course for treatment.

Herpes is a common infection.

Herpes is an extremely common infection that remains in the body for life. 50% of Americans have oral herpes and 1 in 6 Americans has genital herpes. Therefore, you are likely to meet several people with the same STD.

It’s caused by two different but similar viruses: herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2). Both can cause sores to appear on and around the vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, scrotum, buttocks, inner thighs, lips, mouth, throat and, rare Once in the eyes.

Herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact, often during vaginal, oral, anal and kissing sex. Herpes causes blister outbreaks and/or painful sores that cause itching and that appear and disappear. Many people with herpes do not notice the sores or confuse them with something else, so they do not know they are infected. You can spread herpes even when you have no sores or symptoms.

Herpes has no cure, but there are medications that calm the symptoms and decrease the chances of spreading the virus to other people. The good thing is that outbreaks tend to be less frequent as time passes and, although sometimes it can be uncomfortable and painful, herpes is not dangerous. People with herpes can still have sex and live a totally healthy life.

Common Questions

Herpes is a complex subject to navigate. There are considerations for understanding the symptoms, the cycles, potential treatments, and different types of doctors one might see. It can get confusing, fast. Below is a discussion of several common points of interest that should help clarify things a bit.

What is the difference between genital herpes and oral herpes?

Since there are two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2) that can live in many regions of the body, many people are not at all clear about what to call these infections. It’s actually very simple:

When HSV-1 or HSV-2 infect your genital area (vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, scrotum or nearby areas) it is called genital herpes.

When HSV-1 or HSV-2 infects the lips, mouth and, throat or nearby areas, it is called oral herpes. The sores of oral herpes, sometimes, are called a cold sore or cold sores.

HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes and HSV-2, genital herpes: each strain has an area in which it prefers to live. However, both types of the virus can infect either of the two areas. For example, you can get HSV-1 in the genitals if someone with a mouth ulcer has oral sex. You can also get HSV-2 in your mouth if you practice oral sex with someone with HSV-2 in the genital area.

How is herpes spread?

Herpes is easily spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. You get it when your genitals or your mouth comes into contact with the genitals or the mouth of another person, usually during oral, anal or vaginal sex.

Herpes is transmitted even when the penis or tongue does not completely penetrate the vagina, anus or mouth. It is not necessary to ejaculate to transmit herpes.

It is enough that there is rapid skin-to-skin contact. You can also get infected by kissing someone who has oral herpes.

The skin of the genitals, mouth and, eyes can be easily infected. Other areas of the skin can become infected if the herpes virus finds a way to enter, for example through cuts, burns, rashes or other sores.

It is not necessary to have sex to get herpes. Sometimes, herpes can be transmitted through a non-sexual route, such as when a father with herpes kisses his son on the lips. Most people with oral herpes became infected as children. The mother can transmit genital herpes to her baby during vaginal delivery, although it is not very common.

You can also spread herpes to other parts of the body if you touch a sore and then your mouth, genitals or eyes without washing your hands. You can also transmit herpes to another person in this way.

Herpes is most contagious when there are open and wet sores, as the secretion of the blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also spread and pass to other people when there are no sores and the skin looks perfectly normal.

Most people get herpes from people who don’t have sores. Herpes can live in the body for years without causing symptoms, so it is very difficult to know how you got it or that reason, so many people have it; It is a very quiet infection.

Herpes is not spread by hugging, shaking hands, coughing, sneezing or sitting in the toilet seat.

Oral herpes caused by HSV-1 can be transmitted from the mouth to the genitals through oral sex. This is the reason why some cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-1.

How can I avoid getting herpes?

The only way to avoid STDs is to not have any sex.

You can do the following to reduce your chances of getting genital herpes:

  • Having a monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected with a sexually transmitted disease (e.g., a couple who has had an STD test and obtained negative results).
  • Use reliable condoms every time you have sex.
  • Not all herpes sores occur in areas that are covered by a latex condom. In addition, the herpes virus can be released (spread) from areas of the skin that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not protect you completely from getting the virus.
  • Your partner takes medicine against herpes every day. This is something that your partner should consult with the doctor.
  • You avoid having vaginal, anal or oral sex when your partner has symptoms of herpes (that is when you are having an outbreak).

How do I know if I have it?

Most people have no symptoms or if they have them they are very mild. You may not realize mild symptoms or confuse them with another skin condition such as a pimple or ingrown hair. This is why most people who have herpes do not know it.

Herpes sores usually look like one or more blisters on the genitals, rectum or mouth, or around them. The blisters open and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. These symptoms are referred to as “having a breakout.” The first time a person has an outbreak it is likely that they also have symptoms similar to influenzas (flu) such as fever, body aches and, swollen glands.

People who have an initial outbreak of herpes may have other outbreaks, especially if they are infected with HSV-2. The following outbreaks generally last less time and are less severe than the first. Although the infection remains in the body for the rest of life, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over the years.

You should have your doctor exam if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or any symptoms. The symptoms of STDs may include an unusual sore, an odorous genital discharge, burning when urinating or bleeding between menstrual periods (in women).

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How will my doctor diagnose herpes?

Your doctor can diagnose genital herpes simply by seeing the symptoms. They can also take a sample of the sore and give it a test. In some situations, a blood test can be done to detect herpes antibodies. Talk to your health care provider frankly and openly, and ask him if he should be tested for herpes or other STDs.

Keep in mind that: A blood test to detect herpes can help determine if you have this infection, but it will not tell you who transmitted it or how long you have it.

Can you cure herpes?

There is no cure for herpes. However, there are medications that can prevent outbreaks. One of these medications can be taken every day and reduces the likelihood that you will pass the infection to your partner or sexual partners.

What happens if I do not receive treatment?

Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with a depressed immune system.

If you touch the sores or touch the fluid from them, you can pass herpes to other parts of your body, such as the eyes. Do not touch the sores or touch the liquid to avoid spreading herpes to another part of the body. If you touch the sores or touch the liquid, wash your hands well immediately to avoid spreading the infection.

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