Herpes is an infection as well as the name of the virus that causes it. Herpes are defined by the part of the body on which they occur. Herpes infections can be classified in two categories, which we will have a detailed look at later in this article.
The funny fact is that most of the people carrying the herpes virus are not aware of it. This is because the virus mostly remains dormant in a person’s nervous system. From there, it launches periodic attacks once activated.
It is always recommended that you see a doctor for better management plans and potential treatment options once you experience herpes symptoms. Although the virus is not deadly in itself, it can contribute to a weakened immune system.
Types of herpes in men and women; what does herpes look like
Herpes simplex viruses, or HSV, are categorized into two main types.
- Herpes type 1 (HSV-1) – This type is also known as oral herpes. It mostly occurs on the upper parts of the body, notably appearing as cold sores. The virus prefers the lips and mouth. In fact, it can occur on the tongue, a feature that makes it easy to confuse with a canker sore.
HSV-1 will in some cases cause genital warts, especially after a contaminated contact. This, however, is not common.
- Herpes type 2 (HSV-2) – This is the herpes simplex virus behind genital herpes outbreaks. Genital herpes is an STD. This means that is usually transmitted from one person to another after a direct contact with body fluids especially during unprotected sex.
It is less likely but possible to see genital herpes sores occurring on other parts of the body apart from the genital area.
So what does herpes look like? The best approach is to browse through pictures and images for herpes infections.
Herpes symptoms and signs in men and women
Herpes symptoms are not the same for everyone, especially in regards to severity and frequency of attack. In fact, out of all people who may be carrying the virus, more than 80% will not show the signs nor will they realize that they actually are carrying the virus.
It is important to note that the symptoms in men are basically the same as in women. Pregnant women, though, can pass the virus to their unborn babies. But as far as other symptoms are concerned, there are no notable differences.
You may want to get medical attention and go for a clinical test. Through a simple blood test, a doctor can tell if you have the virus or not. It is however, hard to tell if the virus is active or not, even with clinical tests.
The first signs of herpes may appear several days after contracting the virus. In some people, the signs can take up to some years before showing. Some will suffer fierce herpes symptoms just days after contracting the virus while others will take some time to actually show the symptoms. It is therefore difficult to tell the actual time during which the virus was contracted.
Most signs of herpes will be concentrated around the genital areas such as the anus, vulva, penis and thighs. Most of them can go unrecognized or be mistaken for skin bumps, bites or even scabies.
The incubation period for genital warts usually lasts 1 to 2 weeks. In people who notice the symptoms, a burning and itching sensation will be felt. This will then develop into blisters which will burst open after several days to release the liquid contained in them. A scab will form on the blisters and then disappear on its own.
First outbreaks are always the worst. They can take much longer to heal and also cause symptoms such as headaches, fever, body weakness and discomfort when urinating. They even may take weeks to heal. Once the outbreak is over, the virus returns to a dormant state till the time that something triggers it.
In most cases, the first outbreak will be with the one with the fiercest symptoms. If the first outbreak was mild, chances are high that you will not even notice any recurrent outbreak.
- Burning and itchy sensations are the first and most common symptoms. These ones can appear as early as 2 days before the sores.
- A cold sore in the mouth is certainly a symptom of herpes, HSV-1 to be specific. Sores may also appear on the lips and around the genital area.
- The sores rarely spread to other parts of the face. For this reason a pimple in the ear or mole on the face should not be taken as possible signs of herpes.
- The formed sores will eventually rupture and ooze. After that, a scab will form on the blisters and ultimately heal, rarely leaving scars.
- In men, HSV-2 or genital herpes can be identified as sores occurring at the base of the penis and on areas that surround it. In women, the symptoms will occur around the vagina, in the vulva and cervix.
- The sores are usually painful and will form blisters. Some people will experience a reddened rash as well as tenderness on the affected part.
- Symptoms such fatigue and mild fever may also occur in some people. Should the fever be extreme, see a doctor immediately.
What triggers the signs of herpes in men?
Once the virus has been contracted, it quickly divides in the body. This causes damage to the skin, which is the actual cause of lesions and sores. After the outbreak is over, the virus travels to the nerves where it stays dormant.
In the first year after contracting the virus, HSV-2 may cause recurrent attack up to 4 times in a year and once or twice in the same period for HSV-1. With time, the outbreaks are bound to reduce in recurrence while the symptoms will become milder.
Different factors can trigger the activation of the dormant virus. As we already identified, the herpes virus behaves differently in different people. In people with strong immunity, the chances are high that the signs of herpes will often go unnoticed or be mistaken for hemorrhoids or pimples.
Here are the most common herpes virus triggers:
- Fatigue – It is not clear how exactly fatigue acts as a trigger for the herpes virus activation. However, it can be attributed to the fact that the body is less active and poorly provisioned in times of fatigue. This weakens the immune system which then triggers the virus.
- Illness – Illnesses that will weaken the immune system or attack the nervous system may trigger the virus. Also, chronic illnesses which gradually make you weak will also encourage the activation of the virus. Such illnesses include HIV, hepatitis and cancer.
- Trauma – Trauma is a common trigger for HSV-1. This includes some poorly done dental services such as crude tooth removal. In fact, even minor injuries sustained in the mouth or the lips can trigger the virus.
- Sex – Other than being a main mode of transition, sex can also encourage recurrent outbreaks. This will be even worse in cases that you get re-infected with the virus. Note that even the use of condoms may not be enough to protect from herpes transmission.
- Stress – mental and emotional stress will almost certainly trigger a dormant herpes virus to activate. This can be attributed to the fact that under stress, some nerves are forced to over-send stimuli.
- Others factors include: unhealthy diets and lifestyles, physical stress, exposure to UV rays, surgery, and steroid use.
The recurrence of herpes symptoms can be reduced by knowing the common triggers and in turn avoiding them. For example, including a healthy diet and an exercise schedule in your daily plans can help. Also, avoid direct exposure to sun rays by applying sunscreen to your lips. A doctor can also prescribe a number of antiviral medications to ease the symptoms and speed up the healing process.
Herpes cure with home remedies
Several home remedies can act as effective herpes cures. Note that the term “cure” as used in this context may have a slightly different meaning. With viruses, they never really leave the body once they have been contracted. This means that the only way they can be “cured” is by avoiding frequent attacks and easing their symptoms during an outbreak.
Below are some notable home remedies that have been used as herpes cures:
- Essential oils
- Lemon balm
- Tea bags; for example licorice tea; also a canker sore remedy
- Milk of magnesia
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Aloe Vera
- Tea tree oil
- Ice cubes
- Coconut oil
- Apple cider vinegar
Each herpes cure named above has its specific guidelines on how it should be used. It is good to get all the details for the best results. If a natural cure fails to produce the expected results, it’s best to get medical attention for more effective treatment methods.
Medications for herpes treatment
It is not always mandatory to get medical herpes treatment. The virus usually goes back into dormancy after some time. However, people with weak immunity such as HIV patients and those recovering from chemotherapy should get medical attention. The herpes virus can increase the mortality rate in such circumstances.
Some antibacterial medications can also be used to prevent bacterial infections which are known to take advantage of a weakened immune system. Below are the notable herpes treatment medications used today.
- Creams, ointments and gels – These are mostly used to reduce inflammation and also ease painful sores. They are applied directly to the infected parts of the skin.
- Antiviral medicine – Valaciclovir and Aciclovir are good examples. They fight the spread of the virus and also inhibit the different stages of a herpes virus development.
- Painkillers and over the counter medicine – herpes causes effects such as headaches and fever. It can also cause joint pain and fatigue. Over the counter medicine and painkillers are available to ease these symptoms.
You are advised to maintain personal hygiene and avoid transmission even when under herpes conventional medicine. As noted, they are not meant to control transmission nor are they meant to cure the virus for good. The virus will still be contagious even when medications are being used.
Herpes is not a deadly disease. It is highly contagious, especially when the blisters are open. The virus cannot be gotten rid of completely but can be effectively managed to avoid serious recurrent attacks.
You can use a natural cure or get conventional medicine to keep the virus dormant. In case of an outbreak, the best thing is to see a doctor and get advised on the best treatment plan available. It is not with reason that professionals insist that a patient should see a doctor even in the event of the slightest possible symptoms.
For instance, a mole on the nipple can mean cancer of the breast and at the same time it could be benign. The same thing applies to herpes virus. An outbreak can be of little health risk while it can be a potential threat in some cases.