Herpes simplex viruses 1 and 2 (HSV1 ja HSV2) are spread by close contact. HSV1 virus type usually causes damage on the lips (cold sores) and on the mucous membranes of the mouth or in the eyes, and it may be transmitted to the genital area via oral sex. Genital herpes is transmitted sexually and in most cases, it is caused by HSV2.
In the case of lip or skin herpes, it manifests in topical itching, pain and a patch of transparent fluid-filled blisters on a reddened base. It is accompanied by a general feeling of discomfort, a fever is possible. Healing happens on its own within days. The characteristic signs of genital herpes in both men and women are red, extremely painful small blisters that break after some days and heal by themselves within a week. The first outbreak in women usually causes blisters and sores on the labia majora, vagina and cervix. Men may have blisters and sores not only on their genitals, but also in the urethra. The infection can cause general weakness, fever, muscle pain and painful urination.
The virus remains in the body after infection. After recovery from the first outbreak, the disease may occur again. During a repeated outbreak, the symptoms are usually the same, but typically less severe and shorter in duration. Sometimes pain or discomfort (burning or itching sensation) may occur in the affected area before or after blisters develop. Complete cure of herpes is impossible but effective antiviral drugs reduce the length of outbreaks considerably and alleviate discomfort. To prevent spreading the disease, you should avoid immediate skin contact and contact with mucous membranes, use condoms for genital herpes and avoid oral sex in the case of cold sores.