How does genital herpes spread from person to person?
The cause of genital herpes is the herpes simplex virus or HSV. This is a highly infectious virus in that it can transmit mainly through oral, vaginal and anal sex. Generally it is the virus herpes simplex 2 that causes genital herpes. In the human body this virus can be found near the vagina, penis or rectum. Herpes simplex virus 1 could also cause genital herpes but more often it causes cold sores and fever blisters in the vicinity of the mouth. As a sexually transmitted disease, genital herpes can be easily transmitted from male to female and vice versa. Therefore, it is a common disease worldwide.
How does the genital herpes outbreak look like?
Some people are not aware they have the genital herpes infection. This is because in some cases symptoms do not occur, although the virus is very much present in the body. But the infection can spread even if there were no sores or any signs of infection.
Nonetheless, genital herpes generally appears as blisters or bumps on the penis, vaginal or anal area. When a person comes in contact with this through sexual intercourse, then the infection could pass on to him.
A typical outbreak of genital herpes could last for up to 10 days with the possibility of flaring up again.
Different ways by which genital herpes infection could spread
If you have sexual relations with a partner who has genital herpes, then the infection could pass on to you. For example, you could get the infection from your ex-lover or from someone who already has the genital herpes infection. That apart, if you have a cut on the skin the virus could enter your body. It could also enter through the mucous membrane of the mouth, genitals and anus. This in fact constitutes the easiest way for the virus to enter your body and cause infection.
In some cases if a person makes hand contact with a person who has genital herpes and then touches his own genitals with his hands, he could possibly get the infection. This does not happen very often, but nonetheless is a possibility.
When the herpes sores are open, that’s when the herpes virus is most contagious. A person with oral herpes can pass it on to a partner if he or she indulges in oral sex with that partner. This is how HSV-1 virus causes genital herpes. On the contrary, genital to genital contact may result in genital herpes that is caused by HSV-2 virus.
To sum up, someone who has genital herpes can pass it on to someone else through sexual intercourse. Significantly, the person who transmits genital herpes may or may not have symptoms of the disease. In other words, he could have the infection with all symptoms or have the infection without any symptoms at all.
Can genital herpes infection be contracted by using a swimming pool or other public places?
Skin contact, especially of the sexual kind is the only way the disease could spread. You just cannot get this infection if you happen to share a swimming pool with an infected person or if you happen to use a towel or use a toilet seat that had been earlier used by an infected person. If you hear that use of swimming pools, towels and sharing of toilet seats could cause genital herpes, then those are only myths that are simply not true.
The virus that causes genital herpes infection does not live long if it is not resident on the skin. Therefore, this disease cannot be transmitted if a person comes in contact with cups, towels and cutlery used by an infected person. An infected person usually has the virus on the nerves of the skin with no symptoms. When the virus gets reactivated, the symptoms occur.
How does a recurrent outbreak of genital herpes occur?
The real cause for the recurrence of HSV is not known. During sexual intercourse, abrasion of the genital area could occur. This could be a cause for the recurrence of genital herpes. Other factors that could cause a recurrence of genital herpes are:
- Overuse of alcohol
- Other illnesses
- When the genital area getting exposed to strong sunlight.
Even if herpes simplex virus is present on the façade of the skin it could pass on to another person through contact. For instance, the anus, genitals and the mouth are moist parts of the skin where the conditions are ripe for the virus to reside. On sexual activity the virus could pass on to another person and cause infection. This infection may occur with symptoms or there may not be any symptoms to show.