Understanding Herpes: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Understanding Herpes: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

Herpes is a common viral infection causing painful blisters. Learn about symptoms, treatment, and prevention.

1 Big Thing: Herpes is a common viral infection that can cause painful blisters and sores, affecting millions of people worldwide.

Why it matters: While incurable, understanding herpes and its management can help reduce outbreaks, minimize symptoms, and prevent transmission.

Between the lines: Herpes is often surrounded by stigma and misinformation, but with proper knowledge and care, individuals can lead normal, healthy lives.

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What is Herpes?

Herpes is caused by two types of viruses: Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 primarily causes oral herpes, leading to cold sores around the mouth. HSV-2 is usually responsible for genital herpes, which affects the genital and anal regions.


Herpes symptoms can vary significantly among individuals. Some may experience severe outbreaks, while others have mild or no symptoms at all. Common symptoms include:

  • Painful blisters or sores on the lips, mouth, genitals, or anus
  • Itching or burning sensations before the sores appear
  • Flu-like symptoms during initial outbreaks, such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, and body aches


Herpes is highly contagious and can be transmitted through:

  • Direct contact with herpes sores
  • Skin-to-skin contact with infected areas, even when no sores are present
  • Sexual contact (oral, vaginal, or anal sex)
  • From a mother to her baby during childbirth


If you suspect you have herpes, consult a healthcare provider. Diagnosis typically involves:

  • Physical examination of sores
  • Swab tests from the sores
  • Blood tests to detect herpes antibodies


While there is no cure for herpes, several treatments can help manage the condition:

  • Antiviral medications (such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir) to reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks
  • Pain relievers and topical ointments to alleviate discomfort
  • Keeping the affected area clean and dry to promote healing


Preventing herpes transmission involves several strategies:

  • Use condoms and dental dams during sexual activity
  • Avoid sexual contact during active outbreaks
  • Discuss herpes status with sexual partners and consider mutual testing
  • For pregnant women with herpes, antiviral treatment may be recommended to reduce the risk of transmission to the baby

Living with Herpes

Having herpes is manageable with the right approach:

  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle with proper diet, exercise, and stress management to boost the immune system
  • Follow prescribed treatment plans and take medications as directed
  • Educate yourself and others about herpes to reduce stigma and promote understanding

Don’t leave your health to chance. Did you know that many STI’s don’t have symptoms? If left untreated they can seriously damage your fertility, health and life.

If you’re unsure what to do or if you’re worried about an STI, consult with your doctor, a Well Revolution provider, or call your local Planned Parenthood health center.

Or consult a Well Revolution primary care provider today for peace of mind and professional care.

Don’t risk your health!

Understanding Herpes: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention

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