What Are The Symptoms Of HSV-1?
HSV-1 – Known as Oral/Lip Herpes, it is the most common form of herpes and is highly contagious. HSV-1 will present itself as cold sores and fever blisters around the mouth or on the lips. These sores will blister, and commonly ooze clear to yellow pus. When these sores are located in the throat, they result in dysphagia (a painful sore throat that makes swallowing difficult). One may also experience swollen lymph nodes in the neck as a result of HSV-1.
Once the virus has entered the body, it will either remain dormant in the nervous system without the presence of ulcers and sores (asymptomatic) or present itself as a sore or lesion (symptomatic) at or near the initial point of contact/infection1. If the infection is symptomatic, sores and blisters will typically appear 2-12 days after initial contact and infection. Herpes sores may take anywhere from 2-6 weeks to heal and residual scarring may take months or even years to heal.
A herpes infection can remain “dormant” in the human body for long periods of time without any signs or symptoms. While rare, an HSV-1 infection can still be spread to others when it is in a dormant stage (no physical signs or symptoms). It can also “spontaneously” manifest (meaning no physical contact is required to transmit the disease to other areas of the body) itself in the eyes and brain.
The only way to know if you have an HSV-1 infection is to get tested. Click here to see the individual testing options for HSV-1 offered at STDAware.
When the virus is activated within the body it will travel through the nervous system back to the initial location of infection/contact. Before an active “outbreak” of herpes blisters, it is common to experience a painful or uncomfortable tingling/burning sensation at and around the infection site (referred to as a “prodrome”). Clusters of pimple-like sores (medically referred to as “vesicles”) will appear, and then rapidly reduce to a shallow ulcer site.
HSV-1 is transmitted through the transfer of bodily fluids or skin-to-skin contact of an infected area with a mucous membrane (lips, mouth, throat, eyes, nose, penis, vagina, labia, and anus), while kissing, sharing drinks, or oral sex with an infected partner.
HSV-1 Can Occur On The Genitals
In the past, HSV-1 was not considered to be an STD. However, while an HSV-1 infection is labeled as “Oral Herpes” because it typically is localized only around the mouth and lips, it is becoming more common to find HSV-1 strains on the genitalia. According to Johns Hopkins University, 20-30% of herpes infections found on the genitalia are from the HSV-1 strain.
HSV-1 is spread through the contact of bodily fluids AND any form of skin-to-skin contact with a mucous membrane. Touching a cold sore on your mouth and then immediately touching the genitals after can result in an HSV-1 infection of the genitalia. Anyone who has an HSV-1 infection on their genitals can spread the disease through bodily fluids, genital-to-genital contact, as well as through manual and oral sex.
An infection of HSV-1 around the genitals is often mischaracterized as HSV-2, when, in fact, the genital sores are caused by HSV-1 and not HSV-2. Genital sores caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2 are visually indistinguishable and only testing can determine which strain someone has. Similar to oral sores, genital sores will blister, ooze fluid, bleed, and take a few weeks to heal fully. A distinguishing factor in cases of HSV-1 infections on the genitals is that they tend to have a lower rate of symptomatic recurrence or “flare-ups,” than HSV-2. It is important to note that the HSV-1 virus can still be spread in the absence of physical symptoms.
Outbreaks can range in severity and duration by individual and external contributing factors. An individual with a healthy immune system will have no signs or symptoms the majority of the time. A periodic active HSV-1 outbreak or “flare” is generally “triggered” (caused) by an external or internal factor such as an illness or circumstance that causes their immune system to be compromised allowing the virus to activate within their body. Thus the term “cold sore” or “fever blister.”
HSV-1 “triggers” (factors leading to an outbreak) are highly individual. Typically, with time, most people learn to recognize, and often avoid, factors that seem to trigger the virus within their body. Besides physical illness, other common triggers are:
- Poor diet
- Prolonged lack of sleep or sleep disorder
- Emotional distress
- Physical stress (injury or surgery)
- Friction in the genital area
- Prolonged exposure to sunlight
- Steroidal medication (as might be used in allergy or asthma treatment)
Prolonged or frequent outbreaks may be an indicator of a more serious medical condition such as an autoimmune disease, cancer, cancer treatment, additional STD infection(s), or HIV (the deadly autoimmune disease that leads to AIDS).
Medical research has found that individuals who have a herpes infection are at greater risk and have a higher rate of HIV infection. When being tested for herpes, it is recommended that you be tested for HIV at the same time.
Click here to see the individual testing options for HIV and HSV-1 offered by STDAware.
Individuals, with an otherwise healthy immune system, can manage the frequency of outbreaks through effective stress management, and getting adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise along with suppressive (daily) therapy and antiviral treatments. Proper and consistent management of a herpes infection can reduce outbreaks by as much as 80%.
STDAWare patients, who test positive for having an HSV-1 infection, qualify for no-cost medical consultation and treatment with an STDAware medical professional. Click here to learn more about the no-cost medical services and support offered by STDAware.
You Can Be Infected And Not Know It
BEWARE! The majority of individuals who are infected with HSV-1 will NOT exhibit any symptoms. And even without the physical presence of a blister or sore HSV-1 can still be spread. Depending on the severity of the outbreak an HSV-1 infection is often mistaken for a severe case of dry/chapped lips, pimples or a rash.
The only way to know if you have HSV-1 is to GET TESTED.
Advice counselors are available to speak with you about your testing and treatment solutions.