Nowadays, there is a common misconception that herpes is a rare condition. However, the World Health Organisation states that approximately 3.7 billion people that are under 50 years of age have the HSV-1, herpes simplex virus type one that is present among almost 67% of the population. Therefore, herpes can be considered a very common condition, with 417 million people diagnosed with HSV-2. However, considering how widespread this condition is it is very rare to see herpes cases that have outbreaks and symptoms.
However, for the individuals who do experience this condition and its symptoms, the experience can be considered uncomfortable, embarrassing and sometimes even painful. Even though there is no cure for herpes condition currently, it is highly treatable. For example, if you recently suffered an outbreak or would like to prevent one from occurring, you can use clinically proven and effective herpes treatments to manage your symptoms. However, there are many questions around this condition like what treatment should be used or what is the difference between strains like HSV-1 or HSV-2 or even whether there will ever be a cure for this condition. All of your top questions are answered in this Pharmica article.
The Definition of Herpes:
Herpes is a shortened title of a condition called herpes simplex virus which is a viral infection that usually comes in two types – HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus type one) or HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus type two). Both types of conditions are extremely contagious, can have symptoms and usually occur within intermittent outbreaks.
What Is The Difference Between the Two Types?
HSV-1 and HSV-2 tend to have similar symptoms but different locations of the symptom outbreak. While HSV-1 usually manifests as cold sores – painful pimples or blisters that occur on your face near your lips, nose or mouth, HSV-2 produces blisters that are located near the genitals area of your body, hence the name ‘genital herpes’. It is worth noting that both types of herpes can produce sores in other areas of the body and the symptoms can be interchangeable.
What Are The Symptoms:
In the majority of herpes condition cases, most individuals will not experience any symptoms at all. But it is important to know that in rare cases herpes can have symptoms like blisters or mucous membranes on lips, mouth, nose and genitalia. Once these blisters heal, they leave scabs that don’t tend to leave scars unless they’re broken in the process.
Contracting the virus is usually associated with flu-like symptoms that include:
- Fever and temperature
- Muscle ache
- Swollen lymph nodes
How Do These Symptoms Look Like?
The most common symptoms of include fluid-filled blisters that break open after a couple of days, draining the liquid, scabbing until healing. These blisters and sores can appear either in isolation or as clusters.
How Is Herpes Transmitted?
Herpes condition is very contagious and is usually transmitted through skin-to-skin contact that can come from kissing, having sexual intercourse as well as sharing cutlery and glassware with an infected person.
The widespread of this infection partially comes from the fact that infected individuals can still transmit the virus without even having symptoms (aka asymptomatic shedding).
How Can I Treat Herpes?
The good news is the fact that herpes often goes away without needing treatment. However, if are consistently getting outbreaks, it is recommended that you use effective and clinically proven antiviral herpes treatments that can help you control and suppress the virus effectively. The common treatments include:
- Aciclovir – an antiviral that works by preventing the herpes virus from reproducing, thereby reducing symptom severity
- Valaciclovir – the precursor to aciclovir, which is converted to aciclovir in the body. Valaciclovir is better absorbed by and remains longer in the body, meaning less frequent doses are required
- Valtrex – a medically-equivalent, branded version of valaciclovir
Each of these medications has two uses: outbreak control and suppression. The first is to stop an outbreak when it emerges and only requires the medication to be taken for a few days. Suppression, on the other hand, is designed to stop an outbreak from occurring over an extended period of time. You might choose to use this, for example, if you have important events coming up in your life that you want to avoid an outbreak for.
When will herpes be cured?
The question as to whether herpes can be cured has an interesting history. There is essentially nothing special or important about herpes as a medical condition: the vast majority of humanity has at least one type of herpes simplex virus, most people experience no symptoms at all and people who do only experience it in bouts. But when the company who developed aciclovir took the product to market under the name Zovirax in the 1980s, it needed to give people a reason to care. As it turned out, calling herpes ‘incurable’ was a great way to turn heads.
The supposed incurability of herpes was a good marketing strategy. But in reality, it means very little. Think about this: what do we know about the common cold? Most people get it at least once a year. When we do get it, do we ask for a cure? No. We blow our noses, take paracetamol, wrap ourselves in blankets and wait for it to go away. But that doesn’t change the fact that, no matter how hard we try, the common cold will always come back.
In many respects, herpes is exactly the same. And it’s easy to think differently by turning the logic on its head: instead of thinking about herpes as an incurable condition, could you not also say that herpes is ‘cured’ whenever you’re asymptomatic? Herpes isn’t a progressive illness – it comes and goes in different frequencies. If it really was incurable, the symptoms would never go away. Instead, it goes away by itself – much like the common cold.
So if you get cold sores or genital herpes, don’t worry about when there’ll be a cure. Instead, remember that your symptoms are temporary and there are treatments to make them less severe.