Herpes simplex viruses are commonly called as herpes and are divided into two categories: herpes type 1 (HSV-1 or oral herpes) and herpes type 2 (HSV-2, or genital herpes). Herpes type 1 commonly has been known to cause sores around lips and the entire mouth. This condition is many times termed as cold sores or fever blisters. Although HSV-1 can lead to genital herpes, it’s the HSV-2 that is mostly responsible for the occurrence of genital herpes. The person who is infected due to HSV-2 has sores around the rectum and the genitals. Mostly these sores are located below the waist region.
Herpes simplex type 1 is passed on to others via skin sores or oral secretions and usually spreads during kissing or while sharing objects like eating utensils and toothbrushes. But herpes type-2 can be transmitted only during sexual contact with a person already suffering from this infection. One of the important things to be kept in mind is that both these types of herpes can be transmitted even when the sores are not present in the patient. When a pregnant woman is suffering from genital herpes she should discuss this with her doctor as there are chances of it getting transmitted to the baby during delivery. In general certain conditions are responsible for bringing out the attack or outbreak of herpes type 2 in people. These are:
Appearance of multiple blisters or single blister around the areas that are affected, mostly the rectum, genitals and the mouth are the regular symptoms of Herpes Type 2. When the blisters break they form sores. Since the appearance of these blisters and sores is typical, no different diagnosis is needed for confirming the infection. Even then, if the doctor is not sure, he can recommend various tests like DNA or PCR tests and virus cultures.
There are no cures for herpes type 2. But treatments can at least give relief from symptoms. Medications help to control pain and shorten the time required for healing of the sores. More importantly, through medication, the outbreak can be resisted and controlled. Regular drugs which are prescribed for this type of infection include Zovirax, Famvir, and Valtrex. Warm baths are also known to relieve the pain caused by genital sores.
Recurrence of herpes type 2 depends upon the virus type and its influence on the body. Usually, it follows the given course:
Prodrome: Prodrome precedes the infection outbreak. Its earlier symptoms include abnormal tingling sensation, itching of skin and pain, and burning sensation at the infection site. Headache, presence of enlarged lymph glands and flu like feverish feeling are other symptoms. The prodrome phase can be of 2 hours minimum and can take 2 days maximum till the blisters start showing. It has been observed that the recurrence in 25% cases does not cross the Prodrome phase.
Outbreak: In case of outbreak of herpes type 2 the symptoms are similar to those occurring during prodrome stage, albeit the infection is much milder and brief. After the eruption of blisters, they start healing and take around 6 to 10 days for complete healing.
Although exact triggers causing renewal of infection, are not known, there are certain factors that have been found to be instrumental behind it. Sunlight, physical injury, wind, fever, menstruation, emotional stress, surgery, immune system suppression are some of the triggers that can cause recurrence of Herpes type 2. The outbreak that is recurrent can occur at a frequency of years, weeks or days. In some people the outbreak occurs less frequently, especially in the first year and as the years pass on, the intervals of recurrence keeps increasing.