HEALTH CONDITIONS

A comprehensive list of today's common ailments and health conditions.

Herpes

By Angela Young

Herpes is an incurable virus. People who have herpes sometimes do not even know that they have it. If someone does not know they carry herpes they are more likely to spread the disease to their partners through sexual contact.

The herpes virus has two versions. There is herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2. Herpes simplex 1 commonly manifests as mouth sores such as canker sores and cold sores. Herpes simplex 1 did not develop into genital ulcers until recently. Herpes simplex 2 is what most people know as genital herpes.

Herpes has no cure although advances in medication help prevent breakouts in most people. Herpes can spread to non-infected individuals even when the carrier of the herpes virus is not showing any signs or symptoms of a breakout.

Herpes Symptoms

Symptoms of herpes range from mild symptoms to symptoms that are much more severe. Typically herpes manifests as a small blister that eventually pops forming an open sore that eventually heals and goes away after crusting over. A typical herpes outbreak with blisters takes a few days to heal completely.

Other people have only mild herpes symptoms, meaning they have a small rash that develops or bumps that look similar to pimples develop on the skin. Other more sever symptoms include painful urination and some women experience vaginal discharge during a herpes outbreak.

The number of herpes outbreaks varies from person to person from one or two a year to an outbreak every few weeks. Most people recognize an impending herpes outbreak because they begin to have itching and swelling of the groin area. Some people will also develop a fever and flu like symptoms prior to an outbreak.

Symptoms of herpes can affect the penis, the scrotum, the vulva, the vagina, the urethra, the buttocks, the anus and the thighs. Some people never really show any signs of the herpes infection they carry. Others mistake their herpes symptoms for yeast infections, ingrown hairs, insect bites, jock itch or hemorrhoids.

Herpes Causes

The cause of herpes is the herpes simplex virus. Herpes simplex passes from one person to another through contact with the infected person.

Herpes Diagnosis

Most doctors will diagnose herpes simply by looking at the sores in the genital area. However, it is best when the doctor also tests the sores with a swab that a laboratory can test. The laboratory will test the swab for the presence of the herpes simplex virus. Not all sores in the genital areas are due to herpes. It is important that the doctor take the time to test any sores that are present to avoid an incorrect diagnosis.

Another test doctors may recommend is a direct fluorescent antibody test. In this test a solution containing the antibodies of the herpes simplex virus and then lab technicians add a fluorescent dye to the sample. If the herpes is present in the sample the antibodies will stick to it and the dye will cause the antibodies to glow under the microscope.

Blood tests are also available. Blood tests look for the herpes virus in the blood. Blood tests can provide false negatives if the infection is recent.

Herpes Treatment

Currently there is no cure for the herpes simplex virus, either version. There are medications available that help people suffering with herpes to suppress their outbreaks. The antiviral medications suppress the outbreaks so people who have herpes don't experience as many outbreaks each year. The antiviral medications also help to reduce the severity of the outbreaks that a person experiences. Even with the medications it is quite possible to spread herpes to other people even when the carrier is not experiencing an outbreak.


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