What is Herpes Simplex?

What Is Herpes Simplex Virus?

With about 3.7 billion cases of herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1, cases around the world, it is possible you a concerned about transmission. Of the 3.7 billion cases, 67 percent are under the age of 50. There is an additional estimated 491 million herpes simplex virus type 2, or HSV-2, cases between the ages of 15 and 49. Most people who have contracted genital and oral herpes are unaware of their condition because they are asymptomatic (without symptoms.) The diagnosis may be discovered through a physical exam at an emergency room or private practice. 

What is Herpes Simplex?

Herpes Type 1 – What You Should Know

Evidence shows herpes simplex type 1 is more common than herpes type 2. Both types cause painful ulcers or sores on the mouth or genitals. While potentially painful, the condition has not been linked to serious medical conditions. Like many types of viruses, once the herpes virus enters the human body, it is there to stay. 

According to statistics, between 50 and 80 percent of the adults residing in the United States have contracted herpes type 1. The onset of symptoms for oral herpes include is generally a cold sore, commonly referred to as a fever blister, around the mouth, most often the lips. Some patients have reported sores on their throat and less commonly, the eyes. 

People with type II herpes can also be diagnosed with oral herpes. 

Herpes Type II – What You Should Know

Herpes-type 2 is more often linked to genital herpes than oral herpes. Symptoms that point to genital herpes are similar to the symptoms of oral herpes, with one main difference, the location. Sores around or on the scrotum, anus, vulva, cervix, buttocks, penis, and cervix are linked to genital herpes. 

Herpes sores can start out as a tiny edematous bump. Some people refer to their herpes sores as a “pimples.” If left untreated, the tiny swollen bump will develop into a pustule or bluster filled with pus. At this point, the herpes sore is very tender, making it difficult to eat, brush your teeth, and yawn. In fact, the pain may be severe enough to deter you from performing any of the above activities. 

Is Herpes Contagious When Sores Are Not Present?

Yes, herpes is contagious upon transmission. However, infected patients are more contagious around three days before the onset of symptoms (sores). Some patients reported sensations like burning, itching, and tenderness in the area where the sore will later appear. 

It is innocently unfortunate when infected people have sexual relations when they are asymptomatic. About three days later, the onset of symptoms will appear. Until then, you are unaware of your condition, which could result in more cases. 

Does Herpes Spread From Mother To Unborn Infant?

Yes, there is a moderate risk of herpes simplex spreading from mother to unborn infant. This type of transmission is reportedly more common in pregnant with genital herpes. The unborn baby comes into contact with the genital herpes lesions during birth. Babies born through a cesarean section or abdominal surgery, are only mildly at risk.

When the baby comes through the mother’s birth canal, its skin will make contact with the herpes sores. Of all the mother-to-child herpes transmission cases, 85 percent occur during the peripartum phase or before birth. Fewer mother-to-child transmission cases occur in utero and postnatally or after birth. 

Mothers do not spread herpes simplex to their babies through breast milk. It is important to be assessed by a physician if you are at risk of contracting herpes while breastfeeding.

Herpes Simplex Triggers

There are various triggers that cause a herpes attack. Most herpes simplex cases remain in a dormant state or inactive state. Herpes triggers range from fatigue to emotional stress to sexual trauma. Other triggers include menstruation, mild medical conditions, physical stress, chemotherapy, AIDS medications, and steroids. 


It is important to know your risk of developing herpes. Adolescents are at a much higher risk of contracting herpes than children, and young and older adults. People who are accustomed to having transient (promiscuous) sexual relationships are also at risk. Unfortunately, everyone is at risk because herpes is so easily spread through direct contact. People who practice oral sex may believe there are 100 percent protected from contracting herpes. However, this could not be further from the truth.

Funny Herpes Simplex Cartoon

• Meet the Author • Dr. Lawrence Kindo

I am a Medical Professional with a passion for writing, blogging, playing, computers, and of course patient care. My writing in this medical blog will reflect my passion, and you are welcome to be a part of this venture. This medical blog is a tribute to all the great medical pioneers, and to the ultimate source of wisdom, God.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Reply