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Herpes: What are they and what are the symptoms?

Herpes are small, painful blisters usually on the mouth or sex organs. Blisters last for 1-3 weeks. They can go away, but you still have herpes.

There are two types of herpes: Herpes Symplex I (HSV I) & Herpes Symplex II (HSV II).

HSV I causes the type of herpes known as cold sores which are very common and are usually found on people's lips.

HSV II causes the type of herpes known as genital herpes, which usually in the genital area.

Both types of herpes, HSV I & HSV II, are happy to live in both places. HSV I can be found in the genital area and HSV II is happy to live on your lips.

Many people have been exposed to herpes. About 50% of teenagers living in the United States have antibodies for HSV I (which means they have been exposed to HSV I) and by the time people are 50 years old about 90% of adults in the United States have andtibodies for HSV I (which means they have been exposed to HSV I).


How do you get herpes?

Herpes is spread by direct skin-to-skin contact. Genital herpes is transmitted through oral, anal (butt hole) or vaginal sex.

Oral herpes, (HSV I or cold sores) are usually transmitted mostly by kissing on the lips, face, cheek or other kinds of by nonsexual contact.

If someone has genital herpes, they are very infectious just before and while they are having an outbreak.

Oral, anal or vaginal sex are the only ways genital herpes is transmitted. Herpes is not transmitted by sitting on contaminated toilet seats, by hot tubs or swimming pools, or through other kinds of non-intimate contact.


What if I don't get treated for herpes?

If someone doesn't get treated for herpes usually the painful blisters will last longer and they may have outbreaks more often. A pregnant woman can pass along the herpes virus to her child during vaginal childbirth.


Treatment (how to make it go away or make it better)

Bad news! Herpes is a virus, so it cannot be cured.

If someone has an outbreak and thinks they have herpes they should call a medical professional IMMEDIATELY. One of the best ways to find out if it is herpes is for the medical professional to get a sample of the liquid inside the blister and send it to a laboratory. Blood tests for herpes are VERY expensive.

There are several medications that can prevent herpes outbreaks. To get this medication you have to see a medical professional to get a prescription.

There are also herbal treatments which may also prevent herpes outbreaks. These treatments can be found in herbal stores or health food stores.

It is important that if someone has herpes that they don't touch, play with, squeeze or pop the blisters - if they do they can reinfect other parts of their body!

The good news is that usually the longer you have herpes the fewer and less painful the outbreaks tend to be.