Unfortunately, once you catch Herpes, there is no getting rid of it. However, a new study may have revealed what causes recurrence of the virus and could lead to new methods of prevention.
The scientific study aims to identify the chemical processes within the body that reactivate the virus, leading to flare ups. This knowledge could contribute to future studies and the development of treatments for Herpes. Before exploring the findings, we must first understand what Herpes is.
Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus, of which there are eight strains. The two most common are HSV-1 which appears around the mouth as cold sores, and HSV-2 which appears similarly but in the genital area. Herpes is an extremely common virus, having infected around 18 million Aussies.
The virus is spread through close contact with someone who is infected. Although symptoms might not always show, they can frequently reappear. This is because the virus embeds itself in the nervous system where the immune system will not attack it. Therefore, once you have the Herpes virus, you will always have it.
The new study looks at what causes the infected nerve cells to manifest as recurring cold sores. Factors such as stress, illness and plenty of sun exposure are known to induce recurrence, but scientists now have a better idea of why. They have discovered that cytokine (a type of signalling molecule that regulates and mediates the immune system) is released into the body when a person is ill, tired, stressed or exposed to ultraviolet light including sunlight. Cytokine then reacts with DLK (a protein within the neurons). This reaction can reactivate the Herpes virus and lead to cold sores.
Scientists believe that targeting the DLK may be a good way to prevent Herpes recurrence. This new information could lead to future studies surrounding treatment for Herpes.
The best way to prevent flare ups is by leading a healthy lifestyle. This includes a good diet, sufficient sleep, as well as finding effective ways to improve mental wellbeing and manage stress. In some cases, oral antiviral medication can also be prescribed to shorten outbreaks and decrease the number of recurrences.
Getting tested is the only way to know for sure if your symptoms are caused by Herpes. Even if you are not displaying any symptoms, a Herpes test can be reassuring. We can arrange a confidential appointment at one of our sexual health clinics near you. Simply phone our team on the number at the top of the page or book online.
 Huffington Post: Everything You Need To Know About Herpes
 Health Day: What Causes Herpes Cold Sore Flare-Ups? New Study Offers Clues
 Sino Biological: What are Cytokines
 Harvard Health Publishing: Genital herpes: Common but misunderstood
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