Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections. It is caused by a special group of viruses called Herpes simplex virus, which is often abbreviated to HSV.
HSV is a viral agent that enters the host body via many routes, primarily through sexual contamination and other routes such as contamination through salivary secretions and mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy.
Herpes usually manifests itself in the body of the host sores. That is painful inflammation forming blister-like symptoms on the infected person. Herpes is of two types including oral and genital herpes depending on the type of virus or how herpes spreads.
Herpes viruses are the most common pathogenic virus family found in any ecosystem. Those that primarily infect human immunity are given a special term, “Human Herpesvirus” or HHV in short.
A few other well-known infections caused by the family of Human Herpes viruses include Chickenpox and Shingles, both of which are pretty similar to Herpes as both of the viruses infect the mucosal epithelial cells by colonizing them.
Herpes Simplex Virus
Herpes simplex virus type that causes herpes is again divided into two subgroups, known as HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is transmitted through routes other than sexual contact, that includes transmission via body fluids like oral secretions, that is, saliva, blood in rare cases of unscreened transfusion, and neonatal herpes which transmits from the mother to the child during vaginal birth.
HSV-2 occurs as a sexually transmitted disease that occurs due to cases of unprotected vaginal sex or anal sex or even oral sex with infected people. Persons infected with it carry and pass genital herpes. And the concerning part of it is you cannot distinguish a person carrying herpes from one that is not due to many cases being asymptomatic, as in showing no sores near the mouth or even the genital area or other subsiding symptoms of fever. Simply put, HSV-1 is the cause of oral herpes and HSV-2 is the cause of genital herpes,
Can You Get Herpes From Kissing?
Yes, for a matter of fact, anyone can acquire herpes from kissing as it includes contact with the oral secretions and the active lesions or sores.
Any contact with the sores may allow viral transmission from one to another. The “kissing disease” will then project itself as cold sores or herpes blisters.
Herpes ranges from being asymptomatic to manifesting in cold sores and genital sores. Noticeable symptoms of a person carrying herpes are only the sores, hence, when it is asymptomatic, the virus can still spread.
The sores usually are extremely itchy and painful, rashes may be one of the visible symptoms.
On the initial outbreak of herpes, the patient can observe sores, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. They tend to show up more in immunocompromised patients with a history of diseases like AIDS or even Autoimmune disorders.
Compared to the initial breakouts, the subsequent breakouts of herpes are relatively milder with much fewer symptoms like just the sores.
1. Oral Herpes
As mentioned before, oral herpes is caused by the HSV-1 variant of herpes virus. It transmits through sharing food items with the infected person or sometimes oral sex. It is relatively common and more than 66% of herpes infections belong to this variant.
The fever sores during the initial breakouts are painful and to which there is no treatment available. Instead, topical antiviral creams and drugs like Lidocaine are prescribed to temporarily relieve the pain.
Oral herpes is further triggered by the sun rays or UV in the subsequent breakouts with milder symptoms, to which, the Healthcare provider suggests avoiding the sun or applying sunscreen.
2. Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is caused by the HSV-2 variant of herpes virus. It is rare and only spreads through sexual contact such as direct skin-to-skin contact, unprotected sexual contact, or sexual activities like oral, vaginal, and anal sex. This viral disease projects itself as lesions or sores near and around the genital area and causes considerably large amounts of pain.
Genital herpes treatment includes only antiviral therapy, topical antiviral medications, and other analgesics to reduce pain and fever.
How to Know if Someone Has Herpes?
Herpes virus can easily be detected through laboratory diagnosis tests that just require running a few tests on your blood samples. It is always wise to stay away physically from people who have cold sores and not share items like bottles and other utensils with them.
Prevention of Herpes
Genital herpes can be prevented by making sure that protective measures are being used.
Sexual activity must at all times be done in the presence of physical protection like condoms. It is also important to ask for an STD diagnosis from sexual partners before sex.
As for oral herpes, it is highly recommended to test for herpes before you have any oral contact with anyone. It is also necessary to not share bottles, or spoons to prevent salivary transmission.
There is no treatment available for oral and genital herpes except for temporary solutions such as antiviral creams to reduce active infections and painkillers like Lidocaine to subside the pain.
It is important to contact your Healthcare provider when you are suspecting an infection of herpes on either yourself or your partner to prevent the disease from further spreading across the world. One can only manage the symptoms by suppressive therapy.
What Should One Do if They Suspect Having Herpes?
It is important that anyone who suspects having contracted herpes immediately inform their recent sexual partners and stop any kind of sexual activity till they get diagnosed. Immediately seek medical advice from the doctors and get the laboratory tests done. Visible sores must be consulted for immediately.
In the unlikely case of herpes, a socially responsible person should at all costs take protective measures against transmitting the disease. And they should avoid sharing utensils and avoiding close contact with anyone in general.
Antiviral therapy must be taken and always look out for new treatments available in the industry.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can the Herpes Simplex Virus Spread Through Shared Objects?
Yes, it is much more common to contract herpes simplex infection through shared objects like bottles and other utensils. It is also common to acquire this infection from toothbrushes, lip creams, or lip balms and the seemingly harmless idea of sharing food from the same plate or box.
Can Herpes be Transmitted Through Saliva?
Yes, primarily, HSV-1 spreads through the means of saliva and lesions on the skin. Herpes from kissing is also possible.
Can You Kiss Someone With Herpes?
Contracting herpes is very severe and has no treatment, hence it is crucial to avoid kissing or sharing any items that could have salivary contamination. Herpes from kissing can cause oral herpes.
The possibility of developing herpes, when you kiss someone with herpes can be very severe. The virus is transmitted via contact and saliva. Therefore, avoid kissing people who have herpes infections.
What is the Best Way to Prevent the Transmission of Oral Herpes and Genital Herpes?
To prevent genital herpes, avoid unprotected sexual contact. And to avoid oral herpes, one must avoid any salivary contact. Herpes from kissing can be prevented by not kissing.
Skin-to-skin contact puts us the risk of herpes, hence, it must be avoided as well. To prevent the spread of herpes, anyone with herpes symptoms must strictly regulate direct contact.
Does Herpes Spread Through Oral Sex?
Yes, it is possible to develop herpes in your mouth through oral contact with genital lesions. Developing herpes from kissing is also possible.