All you need to know about herpes, the STD that can be spread through kissing

Herpes might just be one of those topics that's not exactly dinner table conversation, but let's be real, it's important info we all need to be clued up on.


With a cloud of myths and misconceptions hovering over it, we're here to lay down the facts about herpes – what it is, how it shows up, and what you can do about it.

How does herpes spread?

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and comes in two main types: HSV-1 and HSV-2.

HSV-1 is commonly associated with cold sores around the mouth, while HSV-2 typically affects the genital area.


This sneaky virus spreads through direct contact with an infected area, whether it's smooching someone with a cold sore or getting intimate with someone who has genital herpes.

And yes, it can be transmitted even when there are no visible symptoms, thanks to something called asymptomatic shedding.

  • Blisters and sores: The most recognizable sign. Small, painful blisters or open sores can appear on the mouth (in the case of HSV-1) or genital and anal areas (for HSV-2). After bursting, these sores can leave ulcers that eventually heal.
  • Pain and itching: Before and after blisters appear, the affected area can become painful or itchy.
  • Flu-like symptoms: Especially during the first outbreak, some people experience fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes.
  • Urination pain: Pain or a burning sensation during urination can occur, more commonly seen with genital herpes.
  • Eye infection: In rare cases, HSV can infect the eye, leading to irritation, pain, and sensitivity to light.
  • Asymptomatic: It's worth noting again that many individuals infected with herpes may not show any symptoms at all or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed.

Dealing with herpes


Alright, so there's no cure for herpes, but don't let that get you down. There are treatments available that can help manage symptoms and reduce the risk of spreading the virus to others.

Antiviral medications can lessen the severity and frequency of outbreaks. For those looking for more natural management strategies, lifestyle changes like stress management and a healthy diet can also make a difference.

Living with herpes

Living with herpes is all about managing symptoms and understanding the virus. Open communication with partners, using protection, and staying informed are key.

Remember, having herpes is nothing to be ashamed of. It's a common condition that millions of people deal with.


Herpes doesn't have to be a taboo topic. By getting the facts straight and adopting a proactive approach to management and prevention, we can tackle this head-on, with confidence and care. Stay safe, stay informed, and remember, you're more than any condition.

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