Dealing With & Understanding Herpes


By far the most important key to dealing with herpes is understanding and knowing what to do about contagion. Fears associated with being around other people, bearing or taking care of children, and, in general, being able to do and feel as you please, center on uncertainty about when or how you may be able to transmit the virus. This article is designed to give you the facts about contagion and showing you how contagion can be dealt with by exercising a minimum of care. This in turn will reduce your anxiety. When this issue is clear, you’ll find that many other concerns you may have had will take care of themselves. Let’s look at how herpes is transmitted, when a person is contagious, and what this means for you in terms of interacting with other people according to

In my experience with men and women who have just; contracted herpes, I’ve found that one run—through of the facts is not enough to allay fears and help the adjustment process get started. So I’ll recap the facts already touched I on and then go into them more fully. Learn about

Recognize that your first response to the potential risks } may be much more alarming than is necessary, but it will 5 serve the purpose of impressing you with the importance of preventative behavior that will ultimately free you to live with a minimum of disturbance in your routine and interpersonal relationships.


Herpes can only be transmitted through direct physical contact. When the virus is in its latent stage, it is not f transmissible. When there is sufficient virus present at the : surface of the body, someone must touch it to become infected by it. The contagion area is highly localized and, Oral-genital sex, if either a lip sore or genital sore is pre- sent, can result in transmission——lip to genitals or genitals to mouth according to

Herpes is highly contagious when sores are present. The development of an active infection in another person depends on an interplay among:

• How much virus invades that person’s body through mucous membranes or a break in the skin.
• Whether or not the person has some measure of immunity to the virus.
• His or her state of resistance to infection at that time.

Keep all these in mind as we work through what they mean for you. I am assuming here that you have had a primary episode, and the virus has been dormant. A typical recurrence is preceded by some signs that the virus is becoming active in its nerve cell hideaway. These are the prodromal signs, or warning symptoms. Identify yours from the list ‘in Chapter 9. They are not unlike symptoms you have felt before. These indicate viral activity and possible migration towards the body surface and may disappear without the appearance of a rash. This is very common once your body has adapted and you have some measure of control over recurrences. During prodromal periods, friction from intercourse or vigorous masturbation could bring on or facilitate an outbreak and rash if physical trauma is one of your particular trigger factors according to

Prodromal signs are a warning to be careful and think in terms of sex play other than active intercourse. The virus very rarely can be picked up on a swab at this time, but as you can see, you could play a role in speeding up the development of an outbreak. People often report breaking out the day after making love during the prodrome. Learn about Mediviral

As soon as any signs appear on the skin, such as a red spot, you have to assume the presence of replicating virus. Culture tests are almost always positive at this point. If blisters develop, the fluid contained in them is very high in live virus. This is the time of the greatest risk. Even as the sores begin to heal and scab over, there is still action going on between your body and the virus, which you could aggravate by friction, increasing your chances of transmission. However, this is the turning point in an outbreak. Virus replication has stopped and the virus is beginning to recede from the body surface.
For a person who has had herpes for some time, presence of the virus in a recurrent outbreak (viral shedding) lasts on the average for the first three or four days in a typical seven-to-ten-day rash. So long as adjustment is going according to plan with nothing hindering it, reactivations should continue to decrease in severity. This is generally the common course, and you can, in all likelihood, get to the point of decreased severity in a reasonable time (see Chapter 9 on preventing recurrences).

First you must define your contagion parameters and plan your activities with them in mind. The conservative approach is to assume the potential for transmission from just before sores show until the area is healed over with new skin. There are at times (at the beginning of an break and during its healing) when it is not clear whether virus is present or not. The only way you could be I absolutely sure when virus is present in an outbreak would be to have viral cultures taken at different stages. But this, of course, is not an accurate predictor for future outbreaks. So the safest approach is to exercise precautions from the time just before the rash shows until the scabs fall off and the area is covered with new skin. There is some evidence that a previous history of herpes might offer some protection against subsequent infections. For instance, genital infections in someone with a history of cold sores will probably be less severe than in someone without. Similarly, subclinical infections may well offer some protection. But we have to be careful here.

There are many varieties or strains of HSV I and II. While you may have partial-protection, it is possible to get another infection in a different location. The reality, however, is that partners with herpes do not appear to give each other new infections in different locations very easily. Nonetheless, from what we know of the behavior of the virus, it is still possible.

The facts about infecting another person also apply to self-transfer. You can transfer herpes to another part of your own body. The eyes and fingers are particularly susceptible. This, in fact, doesn’t happen very often with recurrent herpes. It is much more of a problem during a primary infection when the body has little or no defense against a viral invasion in another part of the body. Self-transfer from a genital infection to the eyes is virtually unknown, simply because of the location of the lesions though it is possible. It is more common from facial sores, but again, not very likely from recurrent outbreaks. You probably never will self-inoculate. If you take the precautions outlined later in the chapter, even the smallest risk should be removed.

Points to Remember

• There is no virus in the skin between outbreaks.
• Transmission can occur from just before sores show, encouraged by vigorous rubbing of the area, until new skin heals over the rash.
• Your chances of developing a second genital infection from a partner or from self—inoculation are quite low, but nevertheless present.

Leave a Reply