A lot of individuals nowadays are not aware of the basic information about herpes – a highly contagious viral infection that is quite common. Therefore, read the following Pharmica article to bust those common myths and misconceptions about herpes.
What is Herpes?
Herpes is an abbreviated naming of a condition called Herpes Simplex Virus that usually occurs in two common types – HSV-1 or HSV-2. One of the most common versions of the virus is HSV-1 which is well-known as oral hepres while HSV-2 is also known as genital herpes. In summary, this condition is very contagious and usually expresses itself in common symptoms like headaches and lips sores. However, due to the conditions nature, some symptoms might vary depending on the individual and the severity. Therefore, it might be worth consulting with a doctor in case if you are diagnosed with herpes and experience uncommon symptoms.
Now that you are of what herpes is, there are many misconceptions about the nature of the condition which are explored below.
Misconception 1 – Herpes is an Uncommon Condition:
Many individuals would feel upset, concerned or even ashamed if they were diagnosed with this condition. However, in reality, there is no need to feel embarrassed considering the fact that HSV-1 (or oral herpes) affects about ⅔ of all UK adults while HSV-2 (aka genital herpes) affects 1 in 10 people. However, if you are diagnosed with, for example, HSV-1, there is no need to be worried about how it reflects your personal life. As mentioned above, most of the population have this condition but can’t even explain how they harboured and contracted the conditions. Furthermore, the good news is the fact that this condition does not usually have any symptoms with occasional mild occurrences which are usually mistaken for a very minor skin condition.
Therefore, if you are concerned about contracting the condition, you are far from being alone in this situation. Even though discussing this topic might feel uncomfortable and sensitive, it is completely normal and experienced by the majority of people.
Misconception 2 – Herpes is a Deadly Condition:
A recent study suggested that more than 2 in 5 samples genuinely believe that herpes is a deadly condition. However, in reality, an overwhelming majority of cases of this condition go completely unnoticed. In very rare cases, some individuals might experience slight skin conditions like cold sores caused by HSV-1 or blisters and/or scabs in private areas caused by HSV-2. The first occurrence of this condition could be the most intense one, which is usually followed by less severe flare-ups. Severe cases only occur with individuals who potentially have weak or prone immune systems. In worst-case scenarios, which are incredibly rare, this condition could lead to meningitis or encephalitis but this outcome is hugely unlikely.
The good news is that there are many clinically proven HSV-1 cold sore treatments, as well as HSV-2 genital herpes treatments, available on the market that help to reduce the impact and likelihood of future herpes flare-ups.
Misconception 3 – Herpes is Only Contagious if You Have Symptoms:
A lot of people believe that they are contagious only when they experience a herpes outbreak and have visual symptoms. However, in reality, you are still contagious and can transmit the virus even without any symptoms present. To make matters worse, you are much more likely to transmit it when you have symptoms like colds sores or skin problems in private areas and therefore it might be a good idea to minimise any physical contact for the duration of your symptoms. Ensure that you are aware of the potential risks involved with all kinds of physical contact and take necessary precautions to minimise the risks.
Misconception 4 – Herpes is Only Transmitted via Sexual Contact
For HSV-1, this myth is not very relevant – the virus transmission could occur through bodily fluids like saliva which is shared through sharing cutlery, glasses and bottles, in addition to kissing. The CDCP (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) suggests that, surprisingly, that HSV-1 is usually transmitted in the childhood stage of many individuals through kissing and hugging family members. Furthermore, any other open wounds like scratches or cuts could also allow the virus to transmit to the individual.
However, HSV-2 is indeed mostly transmitted through sexual activity. It can be transmitted through actual contact or non-direct content as well as body fluids. Therefore it is important to take nested precautions in case if you suspect any potential risks involved.