Cause: Herpes Simplex virus (HSV)

What is herpes?

Herpes lesions are caused by the herpes simplex virus. The lesions may be found as singular or multiple blisters (lesions) that appear anywhere in the oral and genital area. The blister will break open to form a shallow lesion that is very painful. They go away spontaneously with little scarring.

What are the symptoms of a herpes lesion?

Symptoms usually appear 1 to 30 days after having intercourse. The person may have no symptoms or may feel small painful blisters on the genital organs or in the mouth. The person may experience flu-like symptoms. The blisters will last from 1 to 3 weeks. They will go away, but like with genital warts, the virus remains dormant in the body and may reappear.

How is it diagnosed?

A doctor or nurse practitioner are the only ones who can diagnose a case of herpes. They are often seen during a woman’s gynecological exam. It can be detected through a herpes virus culture of the present lesion, a blood test, and is sometimes detected through a Pap smear.

How is herpes spread from person to person?

They are usually spread through oral, vaginal and anal intercourse. They are especially transmittable when the lesions are present, so sex should be avoided. They CAN be spread even when the lesion is not present, so condom use is highly encouraged.

Can herpes be treated and cured?

Herpes can be treated, but not cured. They can be treated with an anti-viral medication during an outbreak to lessen the duration of the outbreak. The anti-viral medication may also be used to prevent an outbreak. The lesions will go away, but during times of stress, the blisters can reappear. Often the re-occurances are of shorter duration.

Can herpes transmission be prevented?

Although no method is foolproof, people who have only one sexual partner are the least likely to get herpes. If you do have more than one partner, or are unsure if your partner may have more than one partner, it is very important to use condoms. It should be noted, however, that condoms cannot protect areas they do not cover. For example: the groin area, the upper thighs and the abdomen. If any herpes lesions are present they should be treated in order to reduce the risk of transmission.