Herpes: Is it Contagious?
Yes, Herpes is contagious. Herpes is a virus and viruses are
usually very easy to catch. There are several types of Herpes
virus and they are all very common.
Herpes Simplex 1 - Oral Herpes - Cold Sores
Herpes Simplex 1 typically spreads
via close skin contact from the affected area. Kissing, even
kissing on the cheek is the most common way to catch Oral Herpes although it has been known to transfer without direct
skin contact. The virus is latent most of the time and outbreaks
are experienced from once a month through to once a year to once or
twice in a lifetime.
Herpes Simplex 2 - Genital Herpes
Herpes Simplex 2 usually causes Genital Herpes although it has
been known to also cause Oral Herpes. Herpes Simplex 2 usually
spreads via sexual activity, including oral sex (it is this way the
two types of Herpes Simplex typically cause each others
symptoms). The frequency of outbreaks is similar to Oral Herpes.
Herpes Zoster - Chickenpox - Shingles
Herpes Zoster causes chickenpox in children and shingles in seniors. Herpes Zoster is very
contagious as it spreads via the humidity in the air and thus
doesn't even require skin contact to spread. You will only
experience one outbreak of chickenpox if you have caught
the Varicella Herpes Zoster virus and 1 in 5 also experience
shingles in later life.
Herpes is Highly Contagious
Unfortunately all forms of Herpes do not only spread when
there is an outbreak although this is the period where the risk
is at it highest. Most of the time the virus is
latent but can still spread even when there is no outbreak. In
the so called viral shedding period the virus is also contagious.
The viral shedding period is when the virus reproduces itself and can be easily
be passed on to others via skin contact. This can happen without visible symptoms.
Herpes can not be cured and is very difficult to prevent. It is
estimated that 50-80% of the world's population have the Herpes virus
and many don't even know it. The Herpes Simplex types can be treated
with antiviral medicines in a cream for Oral Herpes and a tablet for
Genital Herpes. These medicines will reduce the risk of spreading
as will sensible behavior around the time of outbreaks. Children can get
a chickenpox vaccination but outbreaks of chickenpox are not
usually treated. Shingles should be treated as the affected usually
have a low immune defense system.
- Is Herpes Simplex Contagious?
- Are Cold Sores Contagious?
- Is Genital Herpes Contagious?
- Is Herpes Simplex Keratitis Contagious?
- Is Herpes Zoster Contagious?
- Is chickenpox Contagious?
- Is Shingles Contagious?
- Is Mononucleosis Contagious?
- Is Cytomegalovirus Contagious - how do you catch it?
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