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Guest post by Better2Know: Shaving, cold sores, herpes and me

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This is a guest post by Better2Know, sexual health specialists. We think it's always important for men to understand their own health and to have the knowledge to keep themselves healthy- The Handsome Fellas

If you have ever had a tingling sensation, a blister or sore around your lips, the likelihood is that you have a cold sore and you are not alone.  Cold sores are caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV Type 1) and are very common.  Over two-thirds of the population is thought to carry the virus.

You have probably also heard of genital herpes.  Usually this is caused by the HSV Type 2 virus. It’s not as common as Type 1, but still some 20%2 of the population has it. This virus is also passed on by skin to skin contact, often during sex.  

Both types of the Herpes virus can infect the lips and the genitals, (but rarely both) so oral sex is a common way for Type 1 to infect the genitals and Type 2 to infect the lips!

Once you have caught herpes 1 or 2 you will have it for life, but there are things you can do to reduce the number of outbreaks you have, shorten the time that you have blisters or a cold sore, and help ensure you don’t spread the virus to anyone else.  

How do I know if it is herpes?

It is not unusual for a herpes 1 or 2 infection to go unnoticed. Often the person infected with the virus won’t have any symptoms.  But when outbreaks do occur, these can include:

  • Sores, blisters or lesions (may be filled with fluid)

  • Itching, tingling or burning around the affected area

  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever or muscle aches

If you do get a cold sore, it usually starts with a stinging rash on you lip which then develops into small fluid filled blisters. The blisters generally hurt, and then they develop into a crusty scab which frankly speaking is not very pleasant to wear or look at!  

So, what can you do about this? Well the place to start is to find out if you have Herpes. Fortunately this is quick and easy to do with a simple blood test. You don’t have to have any symptoms at all for this, and you will have a definitive answer within just a couple of days.

Once you know if you’ve got herpes type 1, you can take steps to stop it getting in the way of you looking your best. There are creams and ointments that are available from your local pharmacy that can really help. Applied as soon as you start to feel that tingle, the creams can stop a sore from developing and help any redness to disappear quickly.

If you’ve got herpes type 2, then its worth speaking to a doctor and discussing whether some tablets to stop any unwelcome outbreaks in the trouser department should be considered.  

grayscale photography of woman holding man's face

How is Herpes passed on and how can I prevent this?

Herpes is easily passed on by direct skin to skin contact with a sore or blister which accounts for why it is so common. Knowing you carry this virus can really help you manage it and also help you to make sure you don’t pass it on. If you get an outbreak, try to not let anyone else come into contact with it.

Fortunately, herpes cannot be passed on by sharing razors, shaving oil or body lotions.  Shaving won’t increase your risk of getting herpes or make your outbreak any worse. But do take sensible precautions like washing your hands after you have shaved or groomed your beard. This will help to reduce any risk of passing it on, and can help to speed your recovery.


Things to remember about Herpes:

  • Get a test and find out if you are infected

  • Try to not touch a blister as this can help it to heal faster. If you do, wash your hands afterwards.

  • Remember that stress, lack of sleep or sunbathing may trigger an outbreak.

  • Do not let anyone come into skin contact with our affected area

  • Always use a condom if you have a genital outbreak

  • Speak to your doctor about other treatments that are available.


About the Author:

Anthea Morris is a founder of Better2Know, the UKs leading private provider of sexual health testing services.  Anthea is passionate about increasing everyone’s knowledge about sexual health and improving access to STI Testing.


Sources

[1] Medical News Today: What does Herpes look like?

[2] Terrence Higgins Trust: Herpes

[3] World Health Organization: Herpes simplex virus