Herpes Simplex – Causes and Symptoms

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Herpes Simplex – Causes and SymptomsHerpes simplex is basically a viral disease caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV), HSV-1 and HSV-2.

Touching an infected sore or coming in contact with another object that has touched a herpes sore is the most obvious manner in which the virus spreads. However, a large part of infected people actually contract the disease by what is medically known as ‘asymptomatic viral shedding’.

This is the process in which the disease is contracted without coming in actual contact with sores in the case of carriers that do not show any symptoms yet.

Two Types of Herpes Simplex Virus

HSV-1 Infection – HSV-1 primarily infects the face, mouth and eye, throat and the central nervous system. The most common manner in which this virus spreads is by kissing. This causes what is called oral herpes. However, the virus can also spread through touch and sharing objects such as a towel, razor and lip balm.

HSV-2 Infection – The HSV-2 virus primarily causes anogenital herpes or herpes in the area between the anus and the base of the penis or vagina. Most people get infected by sexual contact, be it oral, anal or vaginal sex.

It should be noted that while HSV-1 is mainly known to cause oral herpes and HSV-2 is more commonly known to cause genital herpes, this is not always the case. Either of the viruses can cause herpes in each of the locations in the body.

Signs and Symptoms

In a large number of cases, the herpes simplex virus does not lead to any visible symptoms. The infected individual never sees or feels anything. However, if signs and symptoms of HSV infection do occur, they can manifest in various ways in various parts of the body depending on the area that has been infected. Some of the common signs include:

–        Itching, tingling and burning sensations in the area. This takes place about a couple of days before the appearance of more visible and obvious symptoms.

–        Fluid filled sores that often break open to form a crust before healing.

–        Fever accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as muscle aches and swollen lymph nodes in the neck (oral infection) or groin (genital infection).

–        A burning sensation while urinating, especially among women.

–        Pain, light sensitivity and fluid discharge in the case of eye infection.

It is also important to note that symptoms of herpes simplex are more common in the mouth and genital area than in the eye and central nervous system. The latter are rare but more serious.

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