Understanding the Stages of Herpes
Understanding the stages of herpes will help you determine what actions to take if you think that you have been exposed to this condition. Herpes are a chronic condition that creates small blisters or sores. There are several forms of herpes. Herpes simplex 1 (HSV1) cause the common cold sores that occur around the patient’s mouth, and HSV2 (HSV2) cause sores to develop on or around the genitals. Chickenpox and shingles are also caused by a type of herpes infection, referred to as herpes zoster.
Herpes are a virus that spreads through human contact. It is considered to be a sexually transmitted disease (STD) but can spread through many forms of body contact. It is possible to spread the virus from touching open sores with the fingers and then touching other parts of the body. Mothers with herpes symptoms can pass the virus to her baby during the birthing process. The virus is located in open sores or near the skin and can be transmitted anytime. Once body fluid from one person containing the virus enters the body another, the person is then infected. The infected person will then go through several stages of herpes.
The first stage occurs several days to a week after the infected contact is made. The first sign is redness and small blisters around the infected area. These blisters become painful open sores. Flu like symptoms and fever may also appear at this stage. Some people will not experience any symptoms during the first stage, and may not be aware that they are infected. Once the immune system has begun to ward off the virus, it will move from the skin around the genitals to nerves located close to the spine. This is often referred to as the latent stage of herpes, and most of the time the sores will disappear during this time.
A patient with a herpes infection can begin shedding the virus at any time. The shedding stage occurs when the virus multiplies in the body’s nerves and then moves to body fluids. During the shedding stage the herpes virus is very contagious and can be spread through contact. The herpes virus may also have a stage of recurrence, when the blisters and sores again appear on the genitals or mouth region. The direct cause of a recurrence outbreak is unknown, but it is thought that stress or a lowered immune system may lead to an outbreak. Very often the symptoms of a recurrence are less severe than the first outbreak. Some people can predict when a recurrence is coming because the area of the initial infection will tingle or itch.
Herpes is incurable, as the virus lives within the body’s nerves for the rest of the patient’s life. Understanding the different stages of herpes, especially the initial outbreak, will help you know your risk of infection. Once you have been diagnosed with a herpes infection, knowing the different stages will help you to learn how to deal with this chronic condition. Many people with a herpes infection can boost their immune systems and live a relatively outbreak free life. Herpes can still be spread at any time however. Safe sex practices can help prevent the spread of herpes, but because the virus can be transmitted through any type of fluid contact, condoms are not 100% effective. While there is no cure, there are many types of medications and topical treatments may ease the pain of the infection and reduce the risk of spreading the virus. The best way to avoid getting this type of sexually transmitted infection or learning how to live with it is to become properly educated on the disease as a whole.