Herpes, or the herpes simplex virus, causes genital and oral outbreaks. Many people have asymptomatic herpes, which means the virus is present in their system, but they never suffer an outbreak. Others may have occasional genital or oral blisters. Herpes is a common virus often stigmatized because it can be sexually transmitted. However, it is transmitted in several other ways as well. There is currently no cure for herpes.

Herpes Symptoms

Genital herpes symptoms include the following:

  • Itchy or painful skin around the genitals
  • Painful, blistery ulcers
  • Pain when urinating
  • Urethra discharge

An initial herpes outbreak is often mistaken for the flu because it causes headaches, fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes.

Oral herpes symptoms include:

  • Pain, warmth, and swelling in the mouth and on the lips
  • Blisters below the nose or on the lips

The symptoms of oral herpes are sometimes mistaken for other health conditions.

Herpes Causes

The HSV-2 virus causes genital herpes and is sexually transmitted. The HSV-1 virus causes oral herpes and affects the mouth and lips. HSV-1 sometimes causes genital herpes, too.

When a person has a genital herpes outbreak, they are at risk of further infections because herpes is never truly eliminated. HSV-2 infections are caused by genital contact. It is not spread by sharing personal items such as clothing and towels. Oral herpes spreads via kissing and engaging in intimate acts.

People living with HIV are at greater risk of complications if they get oral herpes because they have a weak immune system.

Diagnosing Herpes

Often, people who have herpes have no symptoms. Doctors diagnosing herpes depend on swabs from blisters or blood tests to determine whether someone has the virus. However, these tests are not 100% accurate because if a person is tested too soon after contracting an infection, the test will produce a false result.

A doctor may also perform a physical exam and inquire about a patient’s sexual history when diagnosing herpes.

Treating Herpes

There is no cure for the virus, but treating herpes focuses on relieving the symptoms. Antiviral medicines help to shorten herpes outbreaks and reduce the chance of the virus spreading to others. There are ongoing clinical trials that test herpes vaccines, but there is still no vaccine that prevents infection.

Herpes lesions or blisters can be treated with home remedies, including heat therapy compresses, honey, garlic supplements, and vitamins.

Preventing Herpes

The best way to prevent herpes is to avoid sexual contact with an infected person. It is also important to wear condoms and dental dams during sex to prevent herpes and other STDs. It is crucial to avoid sexual activity while herpes blisters are healing. Touching these sores can spread the infection to another person or other parts of the body.

Oral herpes is prevented by avoiding kissing, oral sex, and regularly washing hands. People with visible oral herpes should not share makeup, especially lipstick.

Visit ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care for Herpes Treatment

As one of the only health systems in Cape Coral with ER and urgent care services under one roof, ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care offers affordable pricing, quality care, and trained staff. Patients are only billed based on the level of care received, and no appointments are needed for in-person visits. The ER is available 24 hours a day, and the urgent care walk-in clinic hours of operation are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.

ShorePoint Health Emergency & Urgent Care-Cape Coral, a department of ShorePoint Health Port Charlotte, is located at 2521 Del Prado Blvd. N. in Cape Coral and may be reached at 239-356-0740.