Herpes is a viral infection that is caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV) types 1 and 2. Herpes infections may be categorized in accordance with the part of the body that is affected. Oral herpes occurs in the facial region—most commonly by HSV type 1, while genital herpes involves the penis or vulva—most commonly by HSV type 2. Less common manifestations affect the hands, eyes, or esophagus.
This condition is characterized by cyclical episodes, where a period of active herpes symptoms is followed by dormancy, where there is no discomfort. It is the first episode that is usually most severe and, over time, the intensity and frequency of incidences decrease. The symptoms usually take anywhere between two to four weeks to heal.
A major concern with regard to herpes is that it is a communicable infection. It is transmitted through contact with bodily fluids and lesions of the infected person. Genital herpes is, therefore, the more commonly transmitted variant of HSV. Since there is no cure for herpes, it is very important for patients and those associating with them to be careful in their interactions, especially during herpes flares.
Interestingly, many herpes victims may not witness any symptoms immediately after contraction of the virus. In some cases, the symptoms may even be too mild for them to be associated with the condition. This makes it even more important for one to be vigilant so that the moment any of the signs appear, treatment can be sought and further transmission prevented.
Watch out for these 10 signs that signal the onset of a herpes episode.
This is the most distinctive of all herpes symptoms; fluid-filled blisters appear on the surface of the skin in a localized fashion. With oral herpes, they appear on the face, usually around the lips and tongue area. Genital herpes entails blisters on or around the penis in a man, and on the visible surface of the vulva or even internal vaginal passage in women. Also, some blisters may appear on the buttocks, anus, and inner thighs, as well. In some cases, blisters may appear on the fingers, nail cuticle, toes, and feet; this condition is called herpetic whitlow. Regardless of the site of these sores, herpes blisters tend to break open, ooze over, and then develop a crust before healing. They usually take seven to 21 days to heal, though in the initial episodes, the duration may be longer.