Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV): Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis

herpes simplex virus

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)

Herpes simplex virus is also referred to as herpes and it can affect the mouth, genitals, and other parts of the human body. Also, certain stimuli can still set off an outbreak of the virus as it’s in a dormant stage like exposure to sun, menstrual periods, stress, and fever.  

Types Of Herpes Simplex Virus

We have basically two types of herpes simplex virus namely:

Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and

Herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2)

Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1)

It is otherwise known as oral herpes and it brings about sores around the lips, face, and mouth (which bring about cold sores or fever blisters). Although, HSV-2 are the main causes of genital herpes and HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes.

Herpes Simplex Virus 2 (HSV-2)

This type of herpes causes genital herpes immensely and some patients might still experience some sores around their rectum or genitals. Herpes simplex virus 2 sores can also be felt under the human waist.

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What Are The Risk Factors Of Contracting Herpes Simplex Virus?

Although, anybody can get infected with herpes irrespective of your age your risk could be determined more on exposure to the infection. It is most prevalent amongst people who have unprotected sex.

The following are other risk factors for herpes simplex virus 2:

  • Indulging in sex from a tender age
  • Having a weakened immune system especially people with HIV/AIDS
  • Keeping multiple sex partners
  • Pregnant women during childbirth can expose the baby to the herpes simplex virus easily
  • Having another compounding sexually transmitted infection (STI)  

What Are The Causes Of Herpes Simplex Virus?

Herpes simplex virus is a communicable disease that can be spread to an individual through direct contact with an infected person. HSV-1 can be transmitted to an individual through sores on the skin, sharing of objects like cooking utensils/toothbrushes, and through kissing of an infected person.

It is also reported that about 67 percent of people ages 49 or younger are tested positive for herpes simplex virus 1 which an outbreak may never occur.

You can still contract HSV-2 through having unprotected sex with an infected partner. Genital herpes can still be transmitted to babies during childbirth by most pregnant women.

Also, a study by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) deduced that about 20 percent of sexually active adults in the U.S are known to be infected with herpes simplex virus 2.

Herpes simplex virus can bring about ailing conditions after some weeks of being infected. They include the following:

  • Emotional and psychological stress
  • Physical injury to the affected site, not excluding sexual activity
  • Falling sick which could become prolong
  • Irregular menstruation
  • Feeling very tired
  • Immune responses being suppressed by drugs either through steroids or chemotherapy and HIV/AIDS 

Symptoms Of The Herpes Simplex Virus

Have it mind that someone might not actually exhibit these symptoms and still get infected with the virus. Here are the most common symptoms of herpes simplex virus:

  • Itching around the genitals/rectum
  • Painful urination in the case of genital herpes
  • Having intense blisters in the form of sores usually around your genitals, mouth, or rectum

Herpes can also bring about eye pain, eye sores with little grit in the eye in the case of herpes keratitis.

Although it may also have symptoms that are similar to flu-like headaches, fever, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, and loss of appetite.

Read Also: STD Facts – Genital Herpes

How Can You Diagnose Herpes Simplex Virus?

You will undergo a physical examination by your doctor and sores on your body and other symptoms might also be checked for proper diagnosis.

In some cases, an HSV testing might be carried out to ascertain if you have any sores on your genitals area. A swab stick will be used to take a sample of the fluid from the sore and immediately taken to the medical laboratory for testing. It will then be cultured to check for growth of microorganism to know if you have herpes.

A sample of the patient’s blood might be carried out using a test strip in a situation where no sores are found to check if you’re positive to the HSV-1 or HSV-2 test strips. Some might use PCR or DNA tests to diagnose herpes simplex virus effectively. 

How Is Herpes Simplex Virus Treated?

Although there is no cure for herpes most treatment focuses on doing away with the sores and reducing its outbreak. Some medications can be prescribed by your doctor to help alleviate the pains and some sores can still heal without taking any medications.

Most of its medications can be taken orally (tablets form); some are being applied to your body as cream while an injection can be used in severe cases. The following medications could help people with HSV limit the risk of transferring the virus to a healthy individual. Here are the medications:

  • Famciclovir
  • Acyclovir
  • valacyclovir  

Sometimes taking a warm bath can help alleviate pains that are being attributed with genital sores immensely.

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Is Herpes Simplex Virus Painful?

Yes, it could be painful but some people may also experience very mild pains. Cold sores (lesions associated with oral herpes) could make you have a burning and tingling feelings before the blisters finally burst. It could be painful especially when its outbreak emerges for the first time as you might experience pains around your genital area, discharges from your penis/vagina, and painful/burning urination.    

Can Herpes Simplex Virus Be Cured?

Herpes simplex virus has no cure as once you get the virus, it lives permanently in you and you can only take some drugs to reduce the pains. It can also remain inactive in your nerve cells until it comes in contact with a suitable host which can make it become active.

How To Prevent The Transmission Of Herpes Simplex Virus?

Since HSV has no cure, you can still avert your chance of having the virus or prevent the transmission of the virus to an uninfected individual.

The following preventive measures should be taken into consideration if you have HSV-1:

  • Never share any of your items you know could aid the transmission of the virus to other people like towels, makeup kits, cups, clothing, and any other items one could be vulnerable to.     
  • Avoid direct contact with other people.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene like washing your hands with a medicated soap after contact with your sores and employ the use of medications with cotton swabs.
  • Never indulge in any sexual activity be it oral sex or kissing while undergoing treatment.

The following preventive measures should be taken if you have HSV-2:

  • Avoid having any sexual activity whenever its outbreak erupts.
  • In a case, your symptoms are not noticeable but you have been diagnosed with the virus, always use a condom during mating. Although the virus can still be transmitted to a healthy partner if his or her skin is exposed.

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  • Pregnant women who have this virus should always take medication to avoid transmitting the virus to their unborn babies easily.

Read Also: There Are 8 Herpes Viruses That Can Infect Humans


Having known the causes, symptoms, and how herpes simplex virus could be prevented, it is always advisable to desist from having unprotected sex which is one of the fastest routes in contracting herpes easily. You can share this article with your friends and love ones to help reduce the outbreak of HSV.           


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