The two types of herpes simplex virus are HSV-1 and HSV-2 (HSV). Although HSV-1 may also cause genital herpes, it is more often transmitted via direct oral contact, resulting in oral herpes (with cold sore symptoms). Genital herpes is an STD caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).
According to the reports of the WHO (World Health Organization):
- More than two-thirds (67%) of the world’s population is under the age of 50, and 3.7 billion of them have HSV-1 infection.
- An estimated 491 million people worldwide, or 13%, are infected with HSV-2 and are 15–49 years old.
Herpes symptoms include painful blisters or ulcers that may recur over time. However, the vast majority of HSV infections cause no noticeable signs or symptoms at all. People with HSV-2 infection are more likely to get HIV and pass it on to others.
What Causes Herpes?
When one of the herpes simplex viruses enters the body via a cut or scrape and moves through the nerves, it causes herpes. When this virus becomes active, it may cause sores to appear on the skin.
Herpes viruses can spread when they touch open wounds or cuts in the skin, or when they get into the mouth, vagina, penis, or anus.
Cold sores are a common symptom of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) infections, which often affect the mouth and lips. Type 1 herpes may be spread by the following means or methods:
- Through intimate actions,
- Kissing and oral sex
- Through the reuse of an infected person’s objects
- Use of towels
- Use of a toothbrush
- Eating the remaining food, i.e., food eaten by an infected person
Blisters caused by herpes simplex virus 2 may appear anywhere on the body, including the mouth, genitalia (vagina, vulva, cervix), penis, scrotum (balls), butt, and anus. Sexual contact is the transmission route for herpes type 2.
- Oral sex
- sexually analytic
- Sexual contact between the sexes
- Transmission of herpes by exposure to contaminated sperm or cervical secretions
- Sexual contact with a person who is herpes-positive
Asymptomatic Infectious Individuals
Even though herpes is most contagious when open sores called ulcers are open or oozing, it can spread even when there are no visible sores and the skin is still healthy. This is called asymptomatic shedding. In other words, the virus is there and can spread even if there are no visible signs of it.
Herpes is always contagious, even when there are no symptoms because there is no way to tell if the virus is shedding when there no symptoms. They risk reinfection if they touch a sore and then scratch or rub another area of skin on their body.
After giving birth vaginally, women infected with HSV-2 may transmit the virus to their infants. This kind of transmission is more probable if the mother recently contracted the virus.
Ways Through Which the Dormant Virus Gets Triggered
Many people who are infected with the herpes virus at an early stage, or who are asymptomatic, have a high chance that the herpes virus will remain latent for long periods of time. An outbreak (or assault) could be triggered by any of the following circumstances:
- An infection, disease, injury, or physical stress.
- Persistent emotional stress or distress for more than a week
- Illness in general (from mild illnesses to serious conditions)
- Immuno suppression as a consequence of having AIDS
- Using medications such as chemotherapy or steroids.
- Both sexual activity and trauma to the affected area are considered risk factors.
How Do Herpes Outbreaks Happen?
The HSV virus is responsible for initiating the process of viral replication after entering the nucleus of an infected human cell. Even if any of your cells have been infected, it is quite unlikely that you will have any symptoms at this stage.
During the first stage of infection, the virus travels through nerve cells to places known as ganglia, which are nerve-branching areas. The virus will continue to stay dormant and dormant on that site; it will neither reproduce nor show any indications of its existence during this time.
Sometimes the dormant virus will become active again (through the means that have been mentioned above), which will start the process of replication all over again. When this takes place, the virus makes its way back to the surface of the skin via the nerve. Blistering results from the death of a significant number of the infected skin cells brought about by this. When these blisters break open, they turn into sores or ulcers that are known as cold sores or genital herpes.