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An overview of herpes

What does herpes mean?

Any infections caused by the contagious virus, Herpes Simplex Virus can be termed as Herpes. Herpes Simplex Virus, also known as Human Herpes Virus, family has 8 different types. HSV 1 and HSV 2 are the most common viruses from the Herpesvirus family. Both are contagious and can be easily transmitted from an infected person to another. The former is commonly known as “cold sore” or “oral herpes” while the latter is called “genital herpes”.

How can it spread?

According to one of the researchers of WHO, about 67% of the global population have HSV 1. It is basically the reason behind cold sores around the mouth. It can also give you genital infection, thereby causing genital herpes. This occurrence has a high possibility when there is an oral-genital contact.

Infected people having active lesions can unknowingly spread this disease by skin-to-skin contact, especially if there are breaks or cuts present in the skin of the recipient. It can also spread through sharing personal items of the infected person by a healthy person such as towels, razor, tissue, clothes, utensils, etc.

On the other hand, HSV 2 is mainly associated with sexual transmission. This virus is incapable of surviving outside the human body for long. Therefore, the only way it gets transmitted or stays active is through sexual contact. HSV 2 infection may also be found in the facial area, but usually, it is observed below the waist region.

Is it normal to have Herpes?

According to several medical specialists and research centers, having Herpes is not a sign of abnormality. It is as normal as being sick with chicken pox (Herpes Zoster) or any other common disease, but what puts you at risk is the symptom and the effect. If it is without any symptoms, you are fine, but if you are suffering due to the infection, it has to be treated.

What are the different types of Herpes?

  • Apart from HSV 1 and HSV 2, there are 6 other types of Herpesviruses which may affect you in a number of ways, ultimately causing infections.
  • HHV 3 virus is exclusively responsible for causing chicken pox. It can also cause a viral skin infection known as Herpes Zoster or Shingles. HHV 3 finds skin cell a better place for infection. It may also infect the nerve cells or where the nerve fibers end on skin cells,causing multiple sores. Lesions resulting from this infection may recover within 2 to 4 weeks, but the marks may last for good or a long time. The lesions may also cause you itching or severe pain.
  • HHV 4 is responsible for the infectious disease known as Mononucleosis or “Kissing Disease”. This infection transmits through saliva, though coughing, sneezing and sharing personal stuff may also be listed as possible ways of its transmission.
  • HHV 5 is another cause of Mononucleosis. The virus can be transmitted through various ways such as in newborns through breastfeeding, blood transfusion, sexual contact and even transplants (organ). It may lead to Hepatitis, Diarrhea, AIDS, etc.
  • HHV 6 and HHV 7 cause Roseola, a viral disease in which the patient suffers from skin rashes and high fever
  • HHV 8 is basically related with Cancer (Lymphoma) or tumors.
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