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How Do You Get Herpes

Herpes simplex virus can be transmitted from one infected individual to another. So, how do you get herpes? This virus is spread via direct contact of the infected area with open skin wounds or mucus membranes.
Ningthoujam Sandhyarani
Last Updated: Feb 8, 2018
Herpes is caused due to infection by herpes simplex virus. This virus has two virulent strains, viz. herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) and 2 (HSV2). And depending upon the area of infection, it is categorized into two types - oral and genital. Though the two viral strains can cause both these conditions, the majority of oral cases result due to HSV1 infection. Likewise, HSV2 is the causal virus for maximum cases of the genital type.
A major concern is that the virus can be transmitted to healthy individuals via direct contact with an infected person. Once infected, the virus has the ability to remain in the nerve roots for lifelong. People with this virus have to take precautions, as it may get activated under certain conditions.
How Do You Get Herpes Simplex 1?
Also known as fever blisters or cold sores, oral herpes symptoms are observed in the mouth, lips, gums, and adjacent areas. Approximately 50-80 percent Americans are infected with HSV1. The following are the probable ways of transmitting HSV1.
  • The most common reason is mouth-to-mouth kissing with infected patients. The risk of transmitting cold sores is higher in the blister eruption stage.
  • Direct skin-to-skin contact with the infected area also transmits the virus. Say for example, scratching of the sores in the mouth area with hand and touching other bodily areas will spread infection.
  • Most adults have probably been infected in the childhood stage, which is mainly because of kissing and touching by infected family members and relatives.
  • Cold sores caused by HSV2 can be spread, when a person indulges in oral or anal sex with a partner having genital herpes infection.
How Do You Get Herpes Simplex 2?
As mentioned already, genital herpes is mostly caused due to infection by HSV2. Considered as a sexually transmitted disease (STD), it is usually asymptomatic in the initial stages. Its signs include itching, tingling, and outbreaks of painful red bumps in the genital area. Listed below are some of the transmission routes for HSV2.
  • Indulging in sexual intercourse during herpes outbreaks without using protective measures is the most common reason.
  • They can be caused after having oral sex with a person who has cold sores symptoms. However, this condition occurs rarely, less than 5 percent cases.
  • As far as herpes during pregnancy is concerned, expecting mothers can spread HSV2 to their babies at the time of childbirth or after delivery. Women who have this infection for the first time are more likely to spread it virus to their babies.
A word of caution to prevent this infection is to avoid direct mouth kissing and sexual intercourse during the outbreaks of herpes symptoms. One should take immediate medical attention at the first sight of the signs. The physician will recommend antiviral medications for managing the symptoms and also for curing. Also, performing self care tips is crucial to prevent spreading the infection to other people.
No doubt herpes can be spread even if there are no noticeable symptoms in the carrier patient. But, chances of transmitting this infectious disease is higher when sores are present. For safety purpose, one should maintain personal hygiene and follow preventive measures to reduce the risk of herpes infection.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.