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Herpes: Warning Signs

Herpes, a form of viral infection caused by the herpes simplex or HSV, has two subtypes—HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus-1) and HSV-2 (herpes simple virus-2). HSV-1 is responsible for blisters and cold sores occurring in or on the mouth while HSV-2 is associated with the genital infections or sores caused in and around the genital regions of both males and females. Genital herpes occurs right below our waist region. It can be painful and embarrassing. While improper immune function can cause genital herpes, it is most commonly associated with some sort of sexual transmission carrying with it a certain level of social stigma. That said, it’s best to be as educated as possible.


The HSV can only be transmitted from human to human. The herpes simplex virus is transmitted through close contact of the linings of our mouth, or the genital skin with mucous-covered linings. This virus penetrates the inner linings of the skin through certain microscopic tears. As the virus reaches inside, it travels to the roots of the nerves close to the spinal cord and settles down permanently. The first time an individual is infected is referred to as the primary infection and may or may not be presented with clinical symptoms or even know they are infected. However, the primary infection can present clinical symptoms, which can be the appearance of blisters, ulcers, or red inflamed areas (lesions), occurring in various body sites such as the eyes, inside and outside of the mouth and the genital regions. All the blisters and lesions are contagious and can be spread easily.

After a herpes outbreak, the virus goes down to the fibers of the nerves and settles down at the site of the infected area. As it reaches our skin, it causes blisters and reddening. After the preliminary outbreak of herpes, you can expect subsequent intermittent occurrences, weekly, monthly or yearly. HSV is not gender specific and often occurs when the body’s immune system is stressed, has another infection, or has experienced minor trauma. In women, menstruation can bring about an outbreak.

Keep a close watch on these areas if you’ve had any unprotected or frivolous sexual encounter. Next time we revisit this subject, we’ll discuss the diagnosis and subsequent treatment methods available.


The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.