What Cause Herpes
There are two types of HSVs, namely the herpes simplex virus 1 and the herpes simplex virus 2, HSV-1 and HSV-2. The HSV-2 causes genital herpes, which leads to the outbreak of genital sores. On the other hand, the HSV-1 causes blisters or cold sores near the mouth and the lips. However, these can also be transmitted to the genital areas through genital contact or through oral sex.
Primary Infection and Recurring Outbreaks
Primary infection generally occurs within a few days to two weeks after sexual exposure or contact with an infected individual. The infection usually lasts from three to six weeks for the whole cycle. In case of recurring outbreaks, the whole process of healing might take anywhere between ten days to three weeks.
Causes of Primary Infection
Genital Herpes or HSV-2 is usually spread through sexual activity of any kind. HSV-1 or oral herpes or cold sores are spread through contacts of bodily fluids or through kissing. It can also spread due to skin-to-skin contact and through sharing personal belongings, like a toothbrush. Once the herpes simplex virus enters the body of a person, it attaches itself deep in the ganglia or the spinal nerves. The virus first breaks out in the form of a primary infection, which subsides after a week or so. Following this, the virus does not leave the body but remains in a latent stage in the spinal nerves. It regularly reactivates and causes recurring outbreaks or recurring infection, with blisters and sores.
What Triggers an Outbreak of Recurring Infection?
It is not yet very clear as to how the virus reactivates during recurring infection and outbreaks. However, there are certain factors like trauma or stress that can be possible causes for triggering an outbreak. Some of the common triggers causing an outbreak are:
- Physical stress or fatigue;
- Depression, anxiety or emotional stress;
- Suppression of immune system due to medications, surgery, sickness or other infections;
- Masturbation or vigorous sexual activity that causes friction in the skin;
- Over sweating in the genital areas due to certain clothes or bike riding;
- Excessive consumption of alcohol;
- Exposure of affected parts to strong sunlight or to ultraviolet light.
Additional Triggers in Women
In addition to the above causes or triggers that lead to outbreaks or recurring infection, women are at a higher risk. Such risk factors or causes include menstruation, pregnancy or hormone fluctuations.
Dietary Causes for Outbreaks
There are also certain types of foods or a diet, having a high concentration of L-arginine, which can result in an outbreak of HSV. This is a kind of amino acid that mutates the virus and increases frequent outbreaks of herpes in the infected individual. Such foods like nuts, including almonds, cashews and peanuts along with grains, such as brown rice, whole wheat or other flour products and oats must be avoided in order to prevent recurring infection or outbreaks. Chocolates and caffeinated beverages also cause outbreaks. Know healthy foods to prevent herpes outbreaks from another post on our website.
Frequency of Outbreaks
The frequency of outbreaks in an infected individual will differ from person to person. In some cases, the body is able to build up a good tolerance with antibodies. In this case, the virus will become asymptomatic and they might never get an outbreak episode in their lifetime. In other cases, individuals might continue to get repeated outbreaks for several months and also several years, due to the causes or triggers mentioned above.