Herpes is a rather common infection that plagues men and women, young and old alike. If you are in your mid to late teens or twenties, you are more prone to become infected by the herpes virus. This happens for a number of reasons. Regardless the factor that puts you more at risk for herpes between the ages of 15 and 29, it makes sense if you are in this age group to get tested for herpes and other STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) as soon as possible.
Just because younger people are more inclined to contract herpes does not mean older adults should ignore the possibility that they may have the herpes virus within them. Whether you are 15 or 50, male or female, you have approximately a 2 in 3 chance of being infected by one of the two different strains of the herpes virus.
Herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) are the two different kinds of herpes. HSV-1 is usually encountered on the lips and the mouth area. HSV-2 usually appears around the genitals, or the buttocks, anus and upper thigh areas. In some cases, HSV-1 can cause genital herpes, and HSV-2 can cause oral herpes. The reason why the two different strains of herpes appear where they do has everything to do with how the virus is transmitted.
Oral-to-Oral, Oral-to-Genital or Genital-to-Genital
Genital herpes is given its name because it is usually transmitted when someone’s genitals come into contact with the genitals of another person. Genital to genital contact is the most common form of genital herpes, when someone has the herpes virus in or around their genital area, and they pass it to the genitals of another person.
In the case of oral sex, oral herpes can lead to genital herpes, or genital herpes can be passed to the oral region of a sex partner, causing oral herpes. Regardless of which herpes simplex is involved, initial symptoms are generally similar.
The first outbreak of oral or genital herpes will often be precluded by a tingling, burning, itching sensation. This can happen around the mouth, the genitals, the buttocks or the upper thighs. Soon afterward, one or more blisters will appear, often in a cluster. These blisters can be painful and can pop or break, releasing a thick pus-like liquid.
It is at this stage that herpes is the most contagious. Soon afterward, from a few days to a couple of weeks, symptoms will dissipate and eventually disappear. Sometimes, when the host has a healthy immune system, the herpes virus will become dormant and never awaken again. In many cases though, someone that experiences an outbreak of herpes will have one or more flareups in the future, sometimes several times a year.
Concerning oral and genital herpes, early detection leads to the most effective management of this infection. Regardless of your sexual practices, it makes sense to get tested for herpes and other STDs regularly, at least once every couple of years. Since complications can be extremely serious, and herpes can lead to low levels of self-esteem and social withdrawal, it pays to find out whether or not you are infected with this extremely common virus, so you can treat it properly before it spreads, and causes more emotional and physical damage.