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Let's Talk About Herpes

Published on Jan 16, 2022 | 3:30 PM

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Exposure to the herpes virus has a very high risk of transmission, so it’s advised to get tested immediately if you think you may be infected. With or without symptoms, the virus remains dormant in the body, but it does not reduce potential outbreaks or the risk of infecting another individual.

We explore the difference between the two types of herpes virus, their symptoms, prognosis, and how to get treatment.

HSV-1 vs. HSV-2

Herpes, also known as herpes simplex virus (HSV), is a well-known virus that causes an infection that may or may not immediately show visible symptoms. There are two types of herpes virus; HSV-1 and HSV-2. Each is transmitted differently and causes different symptoms. More than half of the world’s population has HSV-1, while a much smaller percentage has HSV-2.

Herpes symptoms, treatment, and progression differ according to the type of herpes infection you have. Here’s an overview of each type’s main characteristics:

Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1)

HSV-1 is characterized by oral to oral transmission. Oral herpes, also known as “cold sores” or “fever blisters,” appear as small painful blisters around the mouth, lips, or gums. It can be spread through touching and kissing, which means the infection is far more widespread than its counterpart.

Fortunately, HSV-1 does not cause serious health issues. Aside from the oral blisters, it only causes a few other symptoms.

These symptoms include:

  • Mild fever
  • Itchiness or burning around the mouth
  • Painful, fluid-filled blisters
  • Crust-covered sores

The sores don’t necessarily appear directly after exposure, but they eventually will. It usually takes between one and three weeks after you become infected for the blisters to show. When HSV-1 becomes symptomatic, the blisters might spread around the mouth area, where the small blisters might also merge to make up for bigger blisters.

Oral herpes is not curable, and the blisters may keep coming back over the years. As they continue to appear, they’re usually visible on the same spot or somewhere near it. While the herpes virus is not curable, you can treat outbreaks, and you can also get preventable treatment if you feel an outbreak is coming.

Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2)

HSV-2 is more commonly known as genital herpes. It’s a sexually transmitted disease, which means that the blisters often show in the genital areas due to them being the site of the infection. In some cases, HSV-2 is caused by HSV-1 through oral sex.

An HSV-2 infected individual may experience symptoms within one to three weeks after initial exposure. An episode of genital herpes can last for up to three weeks.

Symptoms of HSV-2 can include:

  • Minor inflammation in the infected areas
  • Itchiness
  • Fever
  • Muscle pain
  • Headaches

The blisters caused by HSV-2 are often more inflamed and painful than those caused by HSV-1. Over time, the duration and frequency of these genital herpes breakouts gradually decrease. You can seek outbreak or preventable treatment for herpes HSV-2.

Diagnosis

If you experience frequent outbreaks of fever blisters around your mouth or genitalia, you may need to go to a doctor to get a diagnosis and treatment. People with genital herpes are the most likely to need medical treatment. Herpes tests can take a few different forms, including:

  • Blood tests
  • Viral cultures, where a sample of tissue is taken by scraping the sores to be examined in a lab
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which involves taking a sample from your blood, spinal fluid, or a sore

Treatment

Once your diagnosis is confirmed, a doctor can recommend the right herpes treatment for you.

There's no cure for herpes, but a doctor may prescribe genital herpes medication as part of antiviral therapy to try to lessen the severity of the symptoms. Treatment options typically follow a schedule to ease initial and intermittent symptoms, followed by daily suppressive therapy to help build up your immune system and help reduce the number of outbreaks you experience.

FDA-approved antiviral drugs most commonly prescribed by doctors for genital herpes include:

  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)

There are many home remedies that may help treat the pain of the infection, although it’s best to discuss side effects and treatment options with your doctor. These drugs may only reduce your symptoms and shorten your outbreak by a couple of days, but, accompanied by suppressive therapy, they can significantly reduce the virus’s effect on your health.

How Call-On-Doc can help

If you’ve been experiencing herpes infection symptoms or fear you may have been in contact with someone who has herpes, you should get in touch with a doctor. However, waiting for an appointment or being unsure of the following steps after a positive diagnosis can be frustrating.

With Call-On-Doc, you can have nearly instant access to the medication and treatment options you need to help reduce your symptoms and outbreak duration. By using Call-On-Doc, you can request treatment online instantly, discuss your condition with an experienced professional, and get the right prescriptions necessary for your therapy. Call-On-Doc allows you to fill out a completely discrete form online for treatment.

Not only is Call-On-Doc more convenient to use, but it can be significantly more cost-effective than visiting a doctor’s office. For more information on treating genital herpes, or antiviral medication and treatment options, visit Call-On-Doc and schedule an online consultation today.

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Wayne C. Hahne,

English graduate and Call-On-Doc’s medical resource guide, Wayne C. Hahne is an experienced and passionate medical education content expert. Through diligent research, provider interviews and utilizing the industry's leading resources for wellness information, it is Mr. Hahne’s personal mission to educate the general public on medical conditions with in-depth and easy-to-understand written guides.

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