Herpes is a viral infection that affects millions of Americans. More people are infected every year through contact with an infected individual. Not all people that have herpes were infected through sexual contact, though that is the main avenue for infection with genital herpes.
How Is Herpes Spread?
People can become infected by coming in contact with the sores of someone having an outbreak. These sores may be present on the mouth, the hands, body, or genitals.
There are multiple forms of herpes, including the strain that causes chicken pox and shingles. A person with cold sores or genital herpes that are active can spread the virus by kissing or having sex with an uninfected person. An active outbreaks can last anywhere from two to six weeks. The average outbreaks is about two weeks.
What Are First Stage Symptoms?
The warning signs of an impending outbreak after the initial infection can feel like the cold or flu. Headache, fever, and fatigue are common at first. People will usually feel warning signs of an outbreak about one or two days before blisters arise.
These warning signs are a general soreness or tingling in the area where the outbreak is impending. During this time, in a first outbreak, the newly infected may feel that their lymph nodes are swollen. They can be hard, painful, and about pea-sized or sometimes larger in an active infection. Small blisters filled with fluid appear around the mouth or in the genital area.
Some people that are infected may never show signs. These people are considered asymptomatic and never have an outbreak. People that are infected but do not have symptoms can still spread the virus through 'shedding'. The virus is shed by the body and during any sexual contact another can be infected with active herpes.
Some asymptomatic herpes carriers may experience the flu-like symptoms that others experience after initial infection but never progress to active outbreaks.