Herpes is a very common viral infection which can be caused by either HSV-1 or HSV-2 and spread through several types of contact. While there is currently no known cure for herpes, effective treatment options are available to help patients find relief from symptoms and prevent the transmission of the virus. Patients in Oregon and Washington can seek treatment at Silver Falls Dermatology.
What is Herpes?
Herpes is a viral infection of the mouth or genitals caused by the herpes simplex virus. Herpes is very common and cases may be asymptomatic. Oral herpes is commonly referred to as a cold sore. The virus is not always sexually transmitted, but may be considered an STI for patients with genital herpes. There are two types of herpes simplex viruses: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is more likely to cause oral herpes, while HSV-2 is more likely to cause genital herpes.
Herpes typically causes sores or blisters on the affected areas. These sores may be painful or tender. Blisters and sores tend to burst or crust over.
In addition to sores, patients with herpes may initially experience flu-like symptoms when first exposed to the virus. This includes fever, swollen lymph nodes, headache or body aches, fatigue or lack of appetite.
What Causes Herpes?
Herpes is caused by contact with an infected person. Typically, the virus is spread through contact with herpes sores, but it is possible to transmit the infection while you are not experiencing symptoms. Some common ways that herpes can be spread include sharing objects such as eating utensils, kissing or sexual contact.
Herpes Treatment Options
Before determining a treatment option, your provider may conduct a PCR test or virus culture to accurately diagnose a herpes infection. However, it is more common to make a herpes diagnosis based on the appearance of a sore or blister alone.
Herpes is incurable. However, treatments are available to help reduce the number or severity of outbreaks. These include medications such as Famvir, Zovirax or Valtrex. Antiviral medications allow patients to reduce their risk of transmitting the infection to others. Medications for herpes may be topical or oral. Severe symptoms may require injected medications. Your provider can also recommend at-home options, such as taking a warm bath or applying a warm compress, to relieve pain associated with any sores.