The Human Herpes Virus (HHV) is a common viral infection that results in painful sores on the body. This virus can be present in the body without any symptoms at all, and can spread without a person knowing it. While there are some prescription medications that can treat herpes, there is currently no cure for this virus.
Herpes appears in various forms, such as chicken pox, shingles, cold sores, and the well known genital herpes infection. Regardless of the type of infection, each condition shares certain symptoms that are mostly unique to the herpes virus. If you have any of the below symptoms, it is a good idea to talk to your doctor so that you can get tested and treated before the problem gets much worse. Below is a list of such symptoms.
During the first outbreak, the sores will usually develop between 2 and 20 days after infection. They could continue up to two weeks, and could be so mild that they go unnoticed. The infection may take longer to develop, or be less severe for some people, particularly for those who have partial immunity that results from a previous infection, such as cold sores. The first outbreak usually causes visible sores, which may last between 10 and 21 days.
The first episode of a herpes outbreak is usually the most severe, as the person has probably not been exposed to the virus before, and the appropriate antibodies will not have been produced to detect and fight off the infection. When the virus gets into skin cells, it reproduces and multiplies, which causes the skin to be red and sensitive. Blisters or bumps will start appearing in the infected area, opening up, and then healing when the skin regenerates new tissue.
The infected area is usually painful and may burn, tingle, or itch during the outbreak. Other symptoms include swollen lymph glands, as well as painful, inflamed blisters that develop around the infected area. A person may also experience muscle aches and headaches, along with a fever. Genital discharge is not uncommon, and an infected person may also have a burning sensation in the infected area. Lower back pain is also a possible symptom of a herpes infection.
It should be noted that up to 60% of people who have herpes may not have any symptoms at all, and are totally unaware that they are infected. Even though they show no symptoms, they are still capable of transmitting the virus to others.
On a recurring outbreak, there may again be an appearance of blisters on the affected area, though the other symptoms are usually less severe than the first time. The symptoms can decrease in both frequency and severity over time, and the outbreaks are usually preceded by “warning symptoms” that signal an oncoming outbreak.
After any lesions have healed and the recurring symptoms have stopped, it is still possible for pain and discomfort to be felt in the infected area. The vast majority of infected persons will have at least one recurrence of a herpes outbreak, with most people having about 4 or 5 outbreaks during a year. Usually, the first year of infection has the most outbreaks.
Some physical factors which may trigger a recurring outbreak include drinking a large amount of alcohol, exposure of the affected area to strong sunlight, ultraviolet light, surgical trauma, and a lowering of the immune system.
The herpes virus is spread by coming into contact with someone who is infected. The virus is not just “caught” randomly — it only spreads when you come into contact with an infected area of another person. For example, genital herpes only spreads by sexual contact with an infected person, and oral sores and outbreaks can develop in these instances as well. For this reason, it is important to know for sure that your partner does not have an infection, and that you notify your partner if you are infected. Remember that some people have no symptoms of herpes at all, but can still spread it to others.