When you test positive for HSV1, it means you’ve contracted an STD. HSV1 stands for herpes simplex virus type 1. It’s the virus that causes most cases of oral herpes. Some cases of genital herpes are also due to HSV1 infection.
Although it’s a sexually transmitted disease, HSV1 is not as dangerous to your health as other STDs like syphilis. Nevertheless, having oral herpes can affect your relationships and lifestyle.
You may not know that you have oral herpes because the infection does not really cause symptoms most of the time. However, even when you’re not showing any symptoms, the virus can still be active and can spread to other people. This is referred to as asymptomatic shedding, which is estimated to cause about 70% of new herpes infections.
When HSV1 does cause symptoms, you will most likely experience cold sores or fever blisters. Whereas blisters appear in your genital area when you have genital herpes, cold sores may appear on your lips, inside or around your mouth, on your cheeks, on or inside your nose, or down your chin when you have oral herpes.
When cold sores or fever blisters form, they may appear like tiny pimples at first. Then they will develop into blisters with a clear or yellowish fluid inside them. After a few days, the blisters will break or pop, then the fluid will seep out. After that, a scab or crust will form over the blisters, and then they will eventually heal and disappear.
A cold sore outbreak is typically accompanied by fever, pain, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches. Your very first outbreak may be very painful. Usually, though, subsequent outbreaks are accompanied by less severe symptoms.
Among all STDs, herpes is possibly the easiest to spread. All it takes is skin contact with the affected area. If it’s genital herpes, skin-to-skin rubbing during sex can cause the virus to spread.
If it’s oral herpes and the blisters formed inside your mouth, the virus may also be present in your saliva. When you eat or drink, make sure no one else uses your utensils, drinking straw, or glass before they’re washed. If your partner shares your spoon while you’re still eating, your partner may also acquire oral herpes.
A significant percentage of new genital herpes infections are actually caused by HSV1. This happens when you have oral herpes and you engage in oral sex with your partner. Most cases of genital herpes, however, are due to infection with herpes simplex virus type 2 or HSV2.
What to Avoid During an Outbreak?
Because HSV1 spreads through skin contact, this means that if you or your partner are going through a cold sore outbreak, you should avoid kissing until the outbreak is over.
This doesn’t mean, though, that you should abstain from sex. You really only need to avoid skin contact with the affected area, so you can still have sex as long as you’re careful.
Giving oral sex
If you have a cold sore, it’s alright to have sex as long as you don’t kiss your partner or give her oral sex. If you do engage in oral sex, it’s highly likely that you will transmit the herpes virus to your partner. If this happens, your partner will most likely contract genital herpes.
Popping a blister
The fluid found inside cold sores or fever blisters actually contain the herpes simplex virus. If you break open a blister, the fluid will ooze out, and you run the risk of spreading the virus to your fingers or other parts of your body. If cold sores develop on your fingers, it’s called herpetic whitlow.
Touching your cold sores
If you directly touch a herpes blister, the virus can transfer to your fingers. You should wash your hands right away if you accidentally touched your cold sores.
Eating foods that are acidic or salty
When you eat acidic and salty foods, they may irritate your cold sores and cause more discomfort and pain. During an outbreak, try not to eat foods like pineapples, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. Salty snacks like pretzels, soda, and wine may also aggravate your cold sores.
Coping with a Herpes Diagnosis
Being told that you have an STD can be overwhelming. For those who are already aware that herpes is common and that billions of other people have it, being diagnosed with herpes may not be such a big deal.
However, the diagnosis may still come as a shock, especially if you don’t know how you happened to contract herpes. You may experience feelings of shame and fear. Knowing that it’s a lifelong infection can make you feel hopeless or helpless. It may even cause you to become depressed.
It may take you a while to come to terms with the fact that you have acquired an STD. You may want to consider talking to your partner about it. If you’re having a difficult time accepting the fact that you have herpes, you shouldn’t be embarrassed about seeking professional help.
Letting Your Partner Know
If you have been diagnosed as HSV1-positive, it’s best that you discuss it with your partner. It’s entirely possible that you may have acquired the infection from your partner, although she may not know it if she never showed any symptoms at all.
It’s also possible that you acquired the disease when you were still a child. People typically show their affection for children through kissing and hugging, and someone who had cold sores may have kissed you and passed the virus on to you. Try to be blame-neutral when you tell your partner that you have HSV1.
What’s important is that both of you are aware so that you can both take precautions. If your partner does not have HSV1, it’s best that you refrain from kissing and oral sex when you have an outbreak. You should also be aware of the warning signs of an impending outbreak so that you’ll know when to start abstaining from oral sex and kissing.