Herpes STD is a viral infection without a known cure. It can be caused by two types of viruses: herpes simplex I—commonly called oral herpes—and herpes simplex II—commonly called genital herpes. Not everyone who carries herpes has symptoms, but the most common are herpetic skin lesions, sometimes called cold sores.
How It Is Transmitted
Herpes is not purely a sexually transmitted disease. Sexual contact is just one of the ways the virus can spread. Contact with any bodily fluid, including saliva, can pass it alone. The greatest risk is when there is direct or secondary contact with a herpetic skin lesion. Herpes can appear on the genitals, rectum, and mouth, as well as less common places such as the eyes.
Who It Affects
Oral herpes is incredibly common, but many people are not aware they have it. Either they are asymptomatic or they do not realize that cold sores are a manifestation of herpes. It is estimated that as many as 80 percent of adults have HSV-I. Genital herpes is less common. Approximately one fifth of people over the age of 12 are infected with HSV-II.
The herpes STD virus can lay dormant in a person for years before manifesting in lesions on the skin. In some cases, it remains dormant for life. Often, herpes symptoms are triggered when the person is experiencing significant stress, either physical or emotional. Some common symptoms of herpes include:
- Lesions or blisters on the body, particularly around the mouth, genitals, and rectum
- Tingling around the mouth, genitals, or rectum, signaling the emergence of a lesion
- Flu-like symptoms
- Body aches
- Swollen glands
- Pain when urinating
For most people, the biggest complications of herpes are having visible sores, being made uncomfortable by them physically, and having to refrain from physical contact with others until the outbreak resolves itself. However, more severe complications include:
- Increased risk of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases due to open wounds
- Infecting newborn babies during birth
- Bladder incontinence or an inability to pass urine due to inflammation of the urethra
- Rectal inflammation
Herpes is a disease that can have an extreme impact on a person’s lifestyle and happiness. The sooner it is caught, the sooner the individual can begin managing it. Be certain to test for herpes at least once a year.
As of now, only myLAB Box offers standalone Herpes tests (and only for Genital Herpes).