Can Herpes Be Cured?
There is no known cure for the herpes simplex virus. However, treatments and ways to prevent herpes are available.
Herpes simplex virus, whether oral herpes (HSV- 1) or genital herpes (HSV- 2), is extremely contagious and quite common.
While there are a variety of prevention measures and treatment options once a person has contracted the virus, there is no known cure for either types of herpes.
The University of Maryland Medical Center states that 90% of Americans have been exposed to herpes simplex virus- 1 (cold sores) either as children or young adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes that one out of six Americans between the ages of fourteen and fifty years old carry the herpes simplex virus- 2.
Herpes simplex virus- 1 is herpes in or around the mouth. Commonly, these sores are called “fever blisters” and “cold sores.” Outbreaks of HSV- 1 start out as red bumps in the lips or inside the mouth which turn into blisters. The blisters burst and form yellowish scabs.
Almost all children and young adults get oral herpes at some point. The virus is spread by kissing and sharing personal items like toothbrushes, drinking straws, sports bottles, eating utensils, and towels.
However, HSV-1 is becoming a sexually- transmitted disease. This is due to the increased practice of oral sex among partners. Oral herpes can be transferred even when no symptoms are present.
Herpes simplex virus- 2 is a sexually- transmitted disease. The only way to contract genital herpes is through direct sexual contact, by any means, with an infected person. Approximately one in four sexually active women have HSV-2. One in nine men do.
Genital herpes becomes of very great concern when a woman becomes pregnant. If a woman has an active outbreak of HSV- 2 while she is in labor, doctors will perform a Caesarean delivery. Genital herpes in a newborn can be fatal.
Herpes simplex virus- 2 may appear first as flu- like symptoms, followed by an itchy rash or small red bumps which form blisters and break open. Scabs form and eventually heal in approximately one to three weeks.
Affected partners are contagious during the entire period.
The trouble with genital herpes is that a person may not know he or she has the virus. This is either because either the person has not experienced an outbreak yet, or the outbreaks are so mild, the person does not realize the skin irritation is herpes.
Often, people with herpes simplex virus- 2 mistake outbreaks for insect bites. In some cases, there are no symptoms of genital herpes at all.
To prevent the spread of oral herpes, teach children and teens to keep personal belongings to themselves at home, school, and during activities such as sports practice. Teach them proper hand washing techniques, and to use disposable towels in public places.
To prevent the spread of genital herpes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends limiting the number of sexual partners a person has, abstaining from sex during outbreaks, and the consistent use of condoms for all types of sexual activity.
While herpes outbreaks cannot be completely eliminated, there are scientifically proven natural ways to boost the immune system and kill the virus so that future herpes outbreaks will be less severe and further apart in time.
If a medical approach is preferred, the following are the primary pharmaceutical drugs recommended for herpes simplex virus:
Like other viruses such as chicken pox, once a person is infected with herpes, the virus stays in the body forever. Outbreaks do lessen in severity and quantity over time.
Currently, researchers such as Dr. Robert Belche, M.D., are working on a vaccine to help prevent herpes. Dr. Belche and a team of scientists at St. Louis University is leading the way in research toward a vaccine for both kinds of herpes simplex virus.
So far, there has been some progress made toward a vaccine for HSV- 1, but nothing has been found for HSV- 2.
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