Herpes Simplex the virus responsible for genital herpes, symptoms of herpes and herpes treatment options.
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Herpes Simplex Information


Herpes simplex, which herpes virus is responsible for genital herpes, cold sores, fever blisters? What is the best treatment for herpes. How do I know if I have genital herpes?

If you have questions concerning the herpes virus, please review the following information:

Herpes is Greek is herpein meaning "to creep". The Latin name is appropriate describing the way herpetic lesions "creep" and erupt in blisters in a serpent-like pattern. The term herpes pertains to several distinct disorders, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus.

When individuals refer to herpes simplex they are primarily concerned with two prevalent types, HSV-1and HSV-2. There is a common belief that HSV-1 attacks above the waist and is responsible for cold sores, while HSV-2 attacks below the waist and is responsible for the genital lesions. However, both herpes viruses HSV-1 and II can cause herpetic lesions on the oral mucosa and the genital region. Herpes HSV-1is primarily the cause of recurrent cold sores while HSV-2 are generally responsible for the genital lesions.

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This brings up the common question can herpes HSV-1 be passed to a partner during oral sex? Yes, HSV-1 herpes can be passed during oral sex.

HSV-1 infections are tiny, clear, fluid-filled blisters that most often occur on the face. Less frequently, HSV-1 infections occur in the genital area. Type 1 may also develop in wounds on the skin.

There are two types of genital herpes infections termed primary and recurrent. Primary is the first outbreak if blisters, whereas, recurrent represent the secondary outbreaks that occur at various intervals after the primary lesions appear. Although most people when exposed to the virus get infected, only 10% will actually develop lesions when this infection occurs. The lesions of a primary infection appear two to twenty days after contact with an infected person and can last from seven to ten days.

The number of blisters varies from one to a group of blisters. Prior to the blisters appearing there may be a prodromal period were the skin may be very sensitive or actually itch. Once the blisters appear they can be very sensitive and painful and eventually break permitting the fluid inside the blisters to ooze and crust.

The lesions from the primary infection general heal completely without leaving a scar. However, the herpes virus that caused the initial infection remains dormant in the nerves cells of the body. The virus can remain dormant for years or recurrent infections can occur at various intervals. Recurrent infections may occur in the same location or a nearby site. The recurrent infections tend to be milder than the primary infections and are often related to stress, fevers, sun exposure, menstrual periods etc.

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The following pictures represent common lesions associated with HSV - 1

Warning: the following oral herpes pictures are quite graphic and should only be viewed by adults:

Common lesions associated with HSV-1
Common sores associated with herpes simplex virus.


Genital Herpes

Herpes HSV-2 virus is primarily responsible for the ulcers in the genital area. These ulcers are characterized by the formation of painful fluid-filled blisters on the genital organs of both men and women. Genital herpes is spread via sexual contact from person to person via oral, vaginal and anal sexual activity. Contrary to popular myths one does not contract the herpes virus from toilet seats, swimming pools, door knobs, etc.

HSV-2 herpes viruses has recurrent infections very similar to the recurrent infections described for the HSV-1 virus. Recurrent infections may occur in the same location or a nearby site. The recurrent infections tend to be milder than the primary infections and are often related to stress, fevers, sun exposure, menstrual period, etc.

The prevalence of herpes HSV-2 infection in Europe  alone has been estimated that some 21.1% of the population of individuals ages 18 years and older had antibodies to herpes HSV-2. This means that some 45 million Europeans have been exposed at some point to the herpes simplex HSV-2 virus.

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HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be found and transmitted from the herpetic lesions. However, the herpetic lesion does not have to be present for an individual to become infected with the virus. The virus is contagious when their are no apparent lesions present. An individual almost always acquires an HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. HSV-1 causes most infections of the mouth and lips, however, an individual can acquire HSV-1 in the genital area secondary to oral-genital sexual contact.

HSV-2 may produces only mild symptoms or an individual may be asymptomatic. However, HSV-2 can also cause extremely painful recurrent genital lesions. The HSV-2 infection can also cause complications in individuals who are immune compromised.

Most individuals infected with genital herpes are asymptomatic, they are not aware that they have acquired the virus. However, after a dormancy period the initial presentation of the virus can be very painful. The first episode will usually occur within two weeks after the initial contact with the virus.

Genital herpes in women - females can experience a very severe and painful primary infection. Herpes blisters first appear on the labia majora (outer lips), labia minora (inner lips), and entrance to the vagina. Blisters often appear on the clitoris, at the urinary opening, around the anal opening, and on the buttocks and thighs. In addition, women may get herpes blisters on the lips, breasts, fingers, and eyes. The vagina and cervix are almost always involved which causes a watery discharge. Other symptoms that occur in women are: painful or difficult urination (83%), swelling of the urinary tube (85%), meningitis (36%), and throat infection (13%). Most women develop painful, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) in the groin and pelvis. Approximately one in ten women get a vaginal yeast infection as a complication of the primary herpes infection.

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Genital herpes in men -  males usually experience the herpes blisters on the penis but can also appear on the scrotum, thighs, and buttocks. Fewer than half of the men with primary herpes experience the constitutional symptoms. Some 30% to 40% of men have a discharge from the urinary tube. Some men develop painful swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) in the groin and pelvis. Although less frequently than women, men too may experience painful or difficult urination (44%), swelling of the urinary tube (27%), meningitis (13%), and throat infection (7%).

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The following pictures represent common lesions associated with HSV - 2

Warning: the following genital herpes pictures are quite graphic and should only be viewed by adults:

Common lesions associated with HSV-2
Valtrex remains the most recommended genital herpes treatment by doctors worldwide.

Recurrent Genital Herpes Episodes

Recurrent genital herpes episodes vary amongst different individuals. However, most individuals have between four to six episodes per year. Recurrent infection are generally less severe than the initial outbreak.

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Following an outbreak the virus then travels to the nerve cells where the virus remains dormant. Currently, it is unknown why the virus becomes active again. However, the recurrent infections tend to be milder than the primary infections and are often related to stress, fevers, sun exposure, menstrual periods etc.

Individuals should know that the virus may be active without the presence of the typical lesions. During these times, small amounts of the virus may be shed at or near places of the first infection, in fluids from the penis, vagina, mouth or from lesions that not that noticeable.

Antiviral medications such as Valtrex will significantly reduce the number of outbreaks and the duration and severity of symptoms once an outbreak occurs. Shedding of the virus during these periods may not be noticeable if there is no pain or increased sensitivity in the region. However, you may be at increased risk to spread the virus to your partner at this time.

Some 80% of all case of genital herpes remain undetected. Studies show that a high percentage of individuals that become infected from an undiagnosed partner. Therefore, proper diagnosis is essential in controlling the spread of the virus.

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The virus often goes undiagnosed secondary to a wide range of symptoms associated with the infection or there is an absence of any visible lesions or symptoms. Many individuals are often embarrassed and distressed and do not seek medical help.

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Diagnosing the Herpes Virus

Some 80% of all case of genital herpes remain undetected. Studies show that a high percentage of individuals that become infected from an undiagnosed partner. Therefore, proper diagnosis is essential in controlling the spread of the virus.

An accurate diagnosis can help individuals who are infected take control of their health and benefit from treatments that may reduce their symptoms and their frequency of infection. Proper diagnosis also decrease the risk of spreading the virus to other individuals. Physicians should take the responsibility to properly educate individuals who are diagnosed with the disease about how to protect their partners. The following represent the different methods in which the HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be diagnosed:

Physical Exam

Genital herpes can be accurately diagnosed by your physician based on your medical/sexual history and visual exam of the classic fluid filled herpetic lesions. Unfortunately, this method may not be reliable to make an accurate diagnosis. The active or latent genital herpes in many infected patients are asymptomatic or the patient's symptoms may have already resolved by the time he/she visits the physician.

The following represent the most accurate methods in which to diagnose the herpes virus:

Virus Culture Detection Tests

In order to prepare a viral culture a physician must collect cells at the base of the genital lesion using a sterile cotton swab The sample is then tested in the laboratory. An individual must have a active or live infection at the time of the swab test to produce a positive result. If the herpetic lesions or ulcers have begun to heal the test may give a false-negative report. However, when active lesions are present, this method is seen as the gold standard for diagnosing genital herpes.

 

Serology Blood Tests

When an individual becomes infected with the herpes virus the body will produce antibodies designed to fight the virus. These antibodies are specific to each virus and remain permanently in the bloodstream. A blood test for a herpes simplex virus can indicate if someone has been infected at some time during their life.

However this form of testing cannot indicate when or where on the body the initial infection took place, i.e. around the genital or facial region. When an individual who does not have HSV-2 first acquires the virus, their body starts to produce antibodies. They undergo a process called sero conversion which means they go from having no detectable antibodies sero negative to having detectable antibodies sero positive. The length of time from first infection to when antibodies are detectable varies from person to person, and with the ability of the test to detect antibodies in early infection. Therefore, it is possible for a person in the early stages of infection to give a negative result on a blood test despite having herpes.

Therefore, if an individual believes that he/she has been infected with the virus and the test is negative this individual should repeat the test in three to four months. The older blood tests could not reliably tell the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibodies, however, there are new commercially available tests that have recently been developed bringing new options for diagnosing HSV:

The POCkit® HSV-2 Rapid Test is a single unit, membrane-based immunoassay for the qualitative determination, either in heparinized capillary whole blood taken by finger stick or in serum, of circulating IgG antibodies specific for herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which arise as a result of infection with HSV-2. It is intended for in-vitro diagnostic use by health professionals in Point of Care testing (the lab work does not need to be sent to a central laboratory). The presence of antibodies to HSV-2 may be indicative of a previous infection with HSV-2 and may be of value in determination of previous immunological experience and to aid in the diagnosis of HSV associated disease. This assay will not differentiate whether infection is currently in a latent or active state nor does the test diagnose HSV-1.


Treatment of Genital Herpes Outbreaks

Currently, there is no cure for the herpes virus. However, Valtrex will decrease both the frequency and the severity of outbreaks. Valtrex is the drug of choice for genital herpes infections. Valtrex is effective in treating both the primary infection and recurrent outbreaks. When taken orally, Valtrex reduces the healing time, virus shedding period, and duration of vesicles.

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Patients with frequent outbreaks (greater than six to eight per year) will benefit from the use of long term use of Valtrex which is called "suppressive therapy." Patients on suppressive therapy have longer periods between herpes outbreaks. The specific dosage used for suppression needs to be determined for each patient. Alternatively, patients may use short term suppressive therapy to lessen the chance of developing an active infection during special occasions such as weddings or holidays.

Genital Herpes Treatment Conclusions

There is now a very effective medication that significantly reduces the number of recurrent genital herpes outbreaks associated with the herpes virus. Clinical trials have demonstrated Valtrex to be one of the most effective treatment options for the treatment of genital herpes virus. More doctors recommend Valtrex than any other general herpes treatment.

Valtrex, Genital Herpes Treatment The Facts:

    • By the end of 12 months, some sixty six percent of the patients taking Valtrex still had not had a single genital herpes outbreak compared to only four percent of those taking placebo (sugar pill).

    • Valtrex decrease the number of genital herpes outbreaks even in those individuals experiencing a high frequency of outbreaks. Over half of the patients, fifty five percent of individuals who experienced a high frequency of genital herpes outbreaks (six or more per year) did not have a single outbreak for 6 months while taking a daily dose of Valtrex. Compared to only seven percent of those individuals taking placebo (sugar pill) avoided a genital herpes outbreak in 6 months.

    • Valtrex has also been shown in clinical studies to not only decrease the number of genital herpes outbreaks but Valtrex also significantly reduces the severity of these outbreaks should they occur.


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Additional Genital Herpes Information

The following represents the most common asked questions with regards to issues concerning the genital herpes virus.

What is herpes?

Herpes is Greek is herpein meaning "to creep". The Latin name is appropriate describing the way herpetic lesions "creep" and erupt in blisters in a serpent-like pattern. The term herpes pertains to several distinct disorders, herpes simplex, herpes zoster, Epstein-Barr virus and cytomegalovirus.


 

How is genital herpes spread?

HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be found and transmitted from the herpetic lesions. However, the herpetic lesion does not have to be present for an individual to become infected with the virus. The virus is contagious when their are no apparent lesions present.

An individual almost always acquires an HSV-2 infection during sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. HSV-1 causes most infections of the mouth and lips, however, an individual can acquire HSV-1 in the genital area secondary to oral-genital sexual contact.

Fortunately, you can now order Valtrex, the most prescribed genital herpes treatment by doctors online. Reduce both the frequency and the severity of your genital herpes outbreaks.
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Is genital herpes serious?

HSV-2 may produces only mild symptoms or an individual may be asymptomatic. However, HSV-2 can also cause extremely painful recurrent genital lesions. The HSV-2 infection can also cause complications in individuals who are immune compromised.

The HSV-2 virus can also cause fatal infections in infants if the mother is shedding virus at the time of delivery. Woman who have active genital lesions at the time of delivery, will have to undergo a cesarean section in order to prevent their newborn from being infected with the virus.

In addition, the knowledge that an individual as acquired genital herpes often causes severe psychological distress.


How common is genital herpes?

In Europe, an estimated 21 percent of persons 18 years and older are infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). The prevalence has increased by 30 percent in the past 15 years. Many patients with HSV-2 are asymptomatic, and an estimated 80 percent of cases are never diagnosed.


What can you expect if you are infected with genital herpes?

Most individuals infected with genital herpes are asymptomatic, they are not aware that they have acquired the virus. However, after a dormancy period the initial presentation of the virus can be very painful. The first episode will usually occur within two weeks after the initial contact with the virus.

Women can experience a very severe and painful primary infection. Herpes blisters first appear on the labia majora (outer lips), labia minora (inner lips), and entrance to the vagina. Blisters often appear on the clitoris, at the urinary opening, around the anal opening, and on the buttocks and thighs. In addition, women may get herpes blisters on the lips, breasts, fingers, and eyes. The vagina and cervix are almost always involved which causes a watery discharge. Other symptoms that occur in women are: painful or difficult urination (83%), swelling of the urinary tube (85%), meningitis (36%), and throat infection (13%). Most women develop painful, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) in the groin and pelvis. Approximately one in ten women get a vaginal yeast infection as a complication of the primary herpes infection.

Fortunately, women can now order Valtrex, the most prescribed genital herpes treatment by doctors online. Reduce both the frequency and the severity of your genital herpes outbreaks.
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Men usually experience the herpes blisters on the penis but can also appear on the scrotum, thighs, and buttocks. Fewer than half of the men with primary herpes experience the constitutional symptoms. Some 30% to 40% of men have a discharge from the urinary tube. Some men develop painful swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) in the groin and pelvis. Although less frequently than women, men too may experience painful or difficult urination (44%), swelling of the urinary tube (27%), meningitis (13%), and throat infection (7%).

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Following the primary outbreak an individual can expect to have some three to five recurrent episodes during the first year. Although the secondary episodes are generally not as pronounced as the primary outbreak they can still be very painful. Fortunately there are medications i.e. Acyclovir that can decrease the recurrent episodes.


What are the symptoms of genital herpes?

Unfortunately, most individuals who are infected with genital herpes are not aware that they have the virus. Many times there are no initial symptoms or individuals do not recognize the symptoms as herpes.

Most individuals infected with the virus will experience some of the following symptoms within two weeks:

  • Feeling of malaise or the feeling of being excessively tired
     
  • Itching and/or burning in the genital or anal region
     
  • Discharge from the vagina
     
  • Feeling of pressure in the abdomen region
     
  • Swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin
     
  • Pain in the genital area, buttocks and legs

Following the prodrome period individuals will begin to notice the herpetic lesions forming in the region where the virus has entered the body i.e. mouth, penis, vagina or the anus. Small red bumps appear first that subsequently develop into blisters and then open crusting sores.

During the period when the herpetic lesions are evident individuals will also report the following symptoms:

  • Painful or difficult urination
     
  • Vaginal discharge
     
  • Swollen glands in the groin area
     
  • Fever
     
  • Headache
     
  • Muscle aches

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Which medication is the most recommended medication for the treatment of genital herpes?

Currently, there is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. However, Valtrex remains the drug of choice for the treatment of genital herpes outbreaks. More doctors recommend Valtrex for the treatment of genital herpes than any other medication. 

Patients with frequent outbreaks (greater than six to eight per year) will benefit from the use of Valtrex which is called "suppressive therapy." Patients on suppressive therapy have longer periods between herpes outbreaks.  Alternatively, patients may use short term suppressive therapy to lessen the chance of developing an active infection during special occasions such as weddings or other stressful times.

Fortunately, you can now order Valtrex, the most prescribed genital herpes treatment by doctors online. Reduce both the frequency and the severity of your genital herpes outbreaks.
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How often will an individual get recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes?

Recurrent genital herpes outbreaks  vary amongst individuals. However, most individuals have between four to six episodes per year. Recurrent infection are generally less severe than the initial outbreak.

Following an outbreak the virus then travels to the nerve cells where the virus remains dormant. Currently, it is unknown why the virus becomes active again. However, the recurrent infections tend to be milder than the primary infections and are often related to stress, fevers, sun exposure, menstrual periods etc.

Individuals should know that the virus may be active without the presence of the typical lesions. During these times, small amounts of the virus may be shed at or near places of the first infection, in fluids from the penis, vagina, mouth or from lesions that not that noticeable.

Antiviral medications such as Valtrex can significantly reduce the number of outbreaks and the duration and severity of symptoms once an outbreak occurs. Shedding of the virus during these periods may not be noticeable if there is no pain or increased sensitivity in the region. However, you may be at increased risk to spread the virus to your partner at this time.

Individuals can now order Valtrex the most recommended genital herpes treatment by doctors online (click here to order Valtrex).



What can individuals do to lessen the pain associated with genital herpes outbreaks?
 

There are several things that a patient may do to lessen the pain of genital lesions including the following:

  • Wear loose fitting clothing and cotton underwear
     
  • Using a blow dryer on the "cool" setting to dry the infected area
     
  • Placing an ice pack on the affected area for 10 minutes, followed by 5 minutes off and then repeating this procedure
  • Removing clothing or wearing loose pajamas while at home
     
  • Soaking in a tub of warm water
     
  • Topical ointments may be beneficial if they contain: glycyrrhizinic acid, components of licorice glycyrrhiza glabra, vitamin E, tea oil, Melaleuca spp, baking soda compresses

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