What is Herpes simplex I?

Herpes simplex I is from the herpes simplex virus family and causes sores around the mouth and lips which are sometimes called fever blisters or cold sores. This virus is likely to reoccur more often than herpes II and is transmitted through oral sex. Herpes simplex I can sometimes cause genital sores as well.

How common is Herpes simplex I?

More than 90% of the population is positive for herpes I but many people don’t know they are positive, because most people with herpes do not have outbreaks. The average rate of recurrence is four to five times in the first two years after being infected.

How is Herpes simplex I passed on?

Herpes simplex I is very contagious and is transmitted through the direct contact between the contagious area and broken skin via salvia.

If you or your partner has herpes I in the form of sores or cuts around the mouth, genitals or anus, there is an increased risk of passing it onto your partner through oral sex. This is because the herpes I virus travels in salvia and can infect your partners through breakages in your skin.

What are the complications of Herpes simplex I?

Herpes usually does not lead to complications. Although, outbreaks are common and can be painful, they are more-so in individuals with a weak immune system. It can also infect the eyes, which left untreated can lead to loss of vision. Herpes simplex I can cause a higher risk of miscarriage, as well as premature labour. It is also possible for herpes I to be passed onto a baby during delivery. Herpes simplex I in babies can be very serious.

What is the difference between Herpes simplex I and Herpes simplex II?

Herpes Type I usually causes small, painful blisters on the lips, mouth, gums or skin around the mouth, commonly known as cold sores. Herpes simplex II causes painful blisters on the genitals and surrounding areas. Although both highly contagious, type I and II are different strains of the virus within the same family.

What are the Symptoms of herpes Simplex I?

The main symptom of the virus is the appearance of a blister / multiple blisters around the affected area, most commonly, the mouth. The blisters will break and leave tender sores behind. Before the blister appears, there may be tingling or burning of the affected area.

Some people may feel unwell with a fever, aches, pains and headache, or swollen gums, but this is most common in the initial stage of infection: subsequent attacks tend to present with only the characteristic blisters

The cycle of the Herpes simplex Virus

Once you have become infected with Herpes simplex Virus, the following cycle will occur.

  1. Inflammation – the infected area will become swollen and red, and some people may experience tingles.
  2. Blisters – blisters will rise up from the infected area. These will be filled with fluid.
  3. Ulcers – after the blisters have appeared, the skin will eventually break. Small wet looking ulcers will appear leak white or clear fluid.
  4. Crusting – the is is the start of the healing process. The blisters and ulcers will turn into scabs. When the scabs have cleared, this episode of herpes is past. However, the virus still remains in the body and it will reoccur.

How long does it take for symptoms of herpes I to appear?

Symptoms do not usually appear as soon as you are infected. It may take months or even years for the outbreak of herpes I to appear. It usually takes between 2 to 20 days before any outbreaks develop.

What happens if herpes I is left untreated?

Once you have the HSV-1 virus it will remain in your body for life. It will lie dormant for periods of time in the nerve cells. However, certain triggers such as illness, fatigue, stress, immunosuppression, trauma or menstruation can reactivate the virus, causing new sores to appear.

Can I be cured of herpes I?

Currently there is no cure for herpes I, however the virus in the form of cold sores on the lips or around the mouth may clear within 7-10 days without treatment. Treatments are available over the counter to lessen the symptoms and decrease the frequency of outbreaks but HSV-1 cannot be cured.

How often do you need to test for herpes I?

Herpes simplex I may not always display symptoms. It can therefore be difficult to know if you are infected. It is a good idea to have regular screening if you are sexually active. A comprehensive STI screen is recommended once a year or with every change of sexual partner.

Who is at risk of herpes I?

The herpes virus causes cold sores and anyone can catch these, even if you are not sexually active. However, sores found in the genital area are sexually transmitted. Herpes simplex I is transmitted via saliva, therefore can be passed on via oral sex. In order to reduce the risk of Herpes simplex I, practice safe sex by using a condom every time you have sex, including oral sex. You are only protected as long as the sores are covered by a condom, if there is skin contact with an open sore, the infection can be passed on

Where can I get a test for herpes I?

At Yourhealthfirst Clinic tests for 10 STIs at the same time, including Herpes simplex I.

How reliable is the herpes I test?

Herpes simplex I is included as one of the ten STIs that YHF Clinic tests for simultaneously. Our test is a cutting-edge testing procedure that uses molecular diagnostics that far exceed other STI tests currently available. The test screens for multiple STI pathogens to identify specific viral, protozoan or bacterial pathogens.

How is herpes I treated?

There is no cure for Herpes simplex I, but by using antiviral medicines, the symptoms can be controlled. You should abstain from sex until all symptoms have cleared and ensure to use a condom each time you have sex after. If your results are positive, contact your GP for treatment.