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Herpes simplex 1 and herpes simplex 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2) are two members of a family of herpes viruses, which are responsible for cold sores and genital herpes outbreaks. Both of viruses are contagious and are quite ubiquitous as well. The herpes simplex virus 1 is responsible for most cold sore occurrences, while the herpes simplex virus 2 is responsible for genital herpes. The viruses are transmitted by skin contact during a reactivation of the virus, though genital herpes (herpes simplex virus 2) can be transmitted even when signs of the viral infection are not visible.

Causes, Risk Factors and Complications of Herpes

HSV-1 and HSV-2 are transmittable by the same means, though herpes 2 is typically transmitted through sexual contact. HSV-1, the virus most commonly responsible for cold sore blisters around the mouth, can be transmitted by skin to skin contact with an infected person. It is also transmittable to the genital region during oral sex meaning that both HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses can cause genital herpes. HSV-2 is most commonly responsible for genital herpes, and so it is spread by skin to skin or sexual contact. An open sore is not required in order to transmit this virus to another person. There are a number of complications associated with herpes simplex infections. Because some of them can be quite severe, seeking medical assistance is important. Some of the most common complications associated with herpes infections: other sexually transmitted infections, infections in newborn babies, bladder issues including inflammation, rectal inflammation known as proctitis and meningitis.

Signs, Symptoms and Testsof Herpes

Many people who have herpes infections are completely unaware of it because they do not show any symptoms. The initial symptoms of herpes typically include: pain and itching, but not in everyone who is infected with the virus. Several days following an infection, some people may experience small white blisters or red bumps, which eventually rupture and then bleed. The scabs from the herpes outbreak eventually heal and fade away. These red bumps or white blisters can appear in different areas depending on what virus is involved. Herpes simplex virus 1 can cause sores around the mouth while herpes simplex virus 2 typically creates sores in the genital area, anus and buttocks.

There are a few ways that a physician may diagnose the herpes simplex virus including a DNA test, a bleed test or a viral culture. Most physicians will be able to use a physical exam in order to diagnose the presence of a herpes virus, assuming there are physical symptoms.

Treatment, Drugs and Preventionof Herpes

There is no known cure for the herpes virus, but there are prescription antivirals that can help to alleviate symptoms. These medications may help sores heal more quickly during outbreaks, may decrease the severity and the duration of the symptoms and may even be able to minimize the chance of transmission to other people. Some examples of antiviral medications used for these purposes include: Valacyclovir or Valtrex, Famciclovir or Famvir and Acyclovir or Zovirax. Working with a physician is essential because they have recommendations on when these medications should be taken, in what dosages and how often.