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Guide to Understanding Herpes and Prevention Methods

Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational and educational purposes only. Please consult with your doctor for any medical advice or concerns.

 

Herpes is a common viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It can manifest in two main forms: oral herpes (HSV-1) and genital herpes (HSV-2). Both types of herpes are highly contagious and can lead to uncomfortable symptoms and outbreaks. In this guide, we will delve into what herpes is, its causes, treatment options, and prevention methods to help you better understand and manage this viral infection.

What is Herpes?

herpes on mouth
Image by brgfx on Freepik

Herpes is a viral infection that primarily affects the skin and mucous membranes, causing painful sores and blisters. The two most common types of herpes viruses are:

HSV-1: This type of herpes causes oral herpes, characterised by cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth and lips. It can also result in sores on the face and even the genitals in some cases.

HSV-2: This type is responsible for genital herpes, which leads to painful sores in the genital and around the anus, as well as on the buttocks and inner thighs.

Most infected people are asymptomatic but can still pass on the virus. Learning about herpes can reduce the risks of infection and transmission. 

HSV manifests as burning or painful blisters, typically clustered together on the skin. These blisters may rupture, leaving behind small, painful ulcers. Individuals may experience a tingling sensation in the affected area before visible symptoms appear. The symptoms of HSV are similar to shingles, which are caused by another member of the Herpes family. It’s important to note that HSV-1 can appear around the genitals, while HSV-2 may present on the face. Herpes sores usually last 7-14 days. 

Causes of Herpes

Herpes is primarily spread through direct contact with an infected person’s skin or bodily fluids. The virus can be transmitted through kissing, sexual intercourse, oral-genital contact, and even sharing personal items like razors or towels. HSV-1 is commonly transmitted through oral contact, while HSV-2 is primarily spread through sexual contact.

Prevention Methods

Preventing herpes transmission is essential, especially for sexually active individuals. Here are some preventive measures to consider:

  1. Safe Sexual Practices: Practising safe sex, including the use of condoms or dental dams during sexual activity, can help reduce the risk of transmission.

  2. Regular Testing: If you suspect you may have herpes or have been exposed to the virus, getting tested regularly for sexually transmitted diseases can help detect the infection early and manage it effectively.

  3. Avoid Contact During Outbreaks: Refrain from any form of sexual or oral contact when experiencing active genital and oral herpes outbreaks to prevent transmission to your partner. Also, refrain from sexual or oral contact with anyone experiencing cold sores, vaginal herpes, penile herpes or anal herpes.

  4. Good Hygiene: Practising good hygiene, such as washing hands regularly and avoiding sharing personal items, can help prevent the spread of the virus.

Treatment Options for Herpes

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While there is no cure for herpes, various treatments are available to manage its symptoms and reduce the frequency of outbreaks:

  1. Antiviral Medications: Antiviral drugs like acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir can be taken orally or applied topically to the site of the infection to help alleviate symptoms, shorten the duration of outbreaks, and reduce viral shedding.

  2. Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can help alleviate discomfort and pain caused by the sores.

Conclusion

Understanding herpes and taking preventive measures is crucial to managing the infection and reducing its impact on your life. If you suspect you have herpes or experience symptoms, get tested for herpes simplex virus in Singapore by consulting a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and guidance on managing the condition effectively. 

Disclaimer: We have attempted to provide full, accurate and up to date information in this blog, based on current medical evidence and opinion. However, information and advice may vary from different sources, and over time. If you have any further questions, see your doctor for a more accurate diagnosis of your concerns.

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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQs

When should I go for STD screening?

You should consider screening if you have symptoms of a possible STD, if you have had a recent risky exposure (unprotected sex with a casual partner), or both.

Can I get STDs from oral sex?

Yes, you can. The common misconception is that oral sex is not considered ‘real’ sex and therfore has no risk but the opposite is true. Often oral sex is performed without protection and this is why infections such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea can pass on through oral sex.

Can STDs be cured?

Thankfully the majority can be cured but there are some such as Herpes and HIV that can be treated but not cured. This is why prevention is better than cure and ensuring safe sex goes a long way to reduce your risks.

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