How To Avoid Transmitting Herpes

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Herpes is the name given to a group of viruses (namely HSV 1, HSV 2), that causes blisters and sores. Two types of herpes are Herpes Simplex and Herpes Zoster.

The former variety causes genital herpes (infection around sexual organs) and cold sores (around our mouth), while the latter one causes shingles and chicken pox.

Genital herpes and cold sores are normally the contagious ones. They are not transmitted through body fluids, coughing or air, or even genetically (though it should be mentioned to a doctor.)

They generally spread by skin contact and/or direct contact with the infection. These genital viruses are not spread, as rumored by many, through toilet seats.

Some of the symptoms, if they appear, of HSV 1 or HSV 2 infections are:
•    Blisters around the rectum and/or genitals
•    Symptoms of Flu/ Fever
•    Swollen glands
•    Sores around the lips (cold sores)
•    Ulcers, taking a healing time of 2-4 weeks
Sometimes, even when there’s no outbreak, the virus stays on the skin and can be transmitted to others. This is called asymptomatic outbreak, and cannot be predicted but is supposed to happen during 5% of the days in a year. The prevention of herpes should be in your mind at all times, as herpes is incurable. So once you get herpes, you’re going to have it for all of your life.

Studies suggest that almost 80% of people who have herpes don’t know that they have it.  There are many precautions for avoiding a herpes infection and many to avoid transmitting it to others.

Some key Points:

 Above everything, for prevention, for reduced chances of transmission and for other medications, consult a doctor.

You are at risk of getting an infection if you are getting in contact with a person having HSV 1 or HSV 2 infection.

Genital infection is more common in women than in men.

If anyone is having a weak immune system, he /she is at risk of having an infection.

Genital herpes may pass on through any of these; vaginal sex, anal sex, oral sex (HSV 1 or 2) and kissing (HSV 1)

The skin to skin transmission normally works when virus is present on the skin.

The virus may be present on one’s skin, even without any signs or symptoms.

HIV infected people are more infectious when infected by Herpes.

Factors triggering the outbreaks may differ from person to person. Some key points to avoid catching Herpes and, if already infected, avoid transmitting it is as follows:

Some Ways To Get Relief From Cold Sores:

Here are some ways you may get relief from cold sores, but it will not cure the sores.

Apply tea bags over the blisters, to reduce the irritation and restrain the spread.

Salt, witch hazel, tea tree oil, etc. may also help reduce the irritation.

Prevention:

Like most sexually transmitted infections, women are more vulnerable to acquiring this infection. It is seen that while male to female infections has a chance of 8%-10%, female to male transmission risk is 4%-5%.

Use of female condoms is also suggested as they cover a greater area. The use of a condom reduces the chance of transmission of the virus by 50%, not totally, though the use of a condom is less effective in female to male transmission. The use of antiviral is also useful for prevention to about 50%. However, the use of both adds up the protection to about 75%.

It is better if you practice monogamy. The monogamous individuals have only 10% chance of getting infected from herpes. So, limit the number of sexual partners you have.

Try to lead a healthy lifestyle. Keep yourself healthy and your immune system strong, by following a great food diet.

Avoid kissing when any one of the partners is having cold sores. Avoid having genital, oral or anal contact when you or your partner is infected of genital herpes. Avoid wetting your contact lenses with your saliva, when you’re having cold sores around your mouth.  Avoid touching any other part of your body after you’ve touched the sores, or affected part. Avoid touching the cold sores.

Remember to wash your hands every time after you have touched the sores or affected part. Women having genital herpes should not skip their annual Pap smear.

Avoid Transmission:

If suspecting herpes infection, one must get himself/herself or their partner tested for herpes. In case of genital herpes, the first step is informing your partner. It is vital that both the partners know what the infection is, its prevention and effect.

A latex condom is a must, even during outbreaks. Female condoms are available too, and it protects the inner vagina as well as the outside. So if possible try and use both. The chance of transmission is at its peak when one’s having an outbreak. So in all cases, avoid contact during an outbreak.

As mentioned earlier, the use of medicine can reduce the chances of transmission by about 50%. So consult a doctor and see if any medication is available for you. The use of Dental dams also helps in preventing the transmission of Herpes through one’s mouth to another. People having an outbreak/recurrence, should avoid any skin contact until the vanishing of the last ulcer.

To reduce the chances of viral transmission through the skin, even when there’s no outburst, one must treat himself/herself with proper medication or herbal supplement. Suppressive medication is a must and can reduce the chances of transmission.

To be sure of not being affected by herpes, one might try and maintain a life-long monogamous relationship, with a partner who is tested and found uninfected.

Pregnancy:

The chance of transmitting the virus to the baby is highest if the mother is infected around the time of delivery. But if this is a recurrence, the chance falls from 60% (or 30%) to 3%. To avoid the transmission of the disease to the fetus, it is advised to stay away from intercourse during pregnancy.

Once being affected by herpes, the antibodies stay in your body. So your body will be careful on its own part, but you have to be sure to do your part. Stay away from acidic and/ or salty dishes. Take a healthy and balanced diet. Avoid unprotected sex, sharing cosmetics, etc.

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