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What Are the Dangers of Herpes if Not Treated?

by
author image Lia Stannard
Lia Stannard has been writing about women’s health since 2006. She has her Bachelor of Science in neuroscience and is pursuing a doctorate in clinical health psychology.
What Are the Dangers of Herpes if Not Treated?
What Are the Dangers of Herpes if Not Treated? Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease that is caused by the herpes simplex virus; of the two strains of herpes simplex, herpes simplex type 2 is the most prevalent cause of genital herpes. According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, as many as one in five people are infected with herpes. Herpes can be spread by skin-to-skin contact, and the main symptom is sores that appear on the infected area. While sores do heal on their own, not treating herpes can lead to dangerous consequences.

Discomfort

When herpes is left untreated, sores will reappear every few weeks. Outbreaks that occur when you are under stress may be more severe. Before the sores appear, the surrounding area may itch or burn. Because you cannot predict when a herpes outbreak will occur, it can become an inconvenience. Sores can last a few days, then a scab will form over and the sore will heal without leaving a scar.

Weakened Immune System

If you are infected with herpes and another sexually transmitted disease, then you are at risk for a weakened immune system. During this time, you can have more severe outbreaks of genital herpes, as well as complications. Complications include being susceptible to other diseases, fever, swollen glands and severe headaches.

Spreading the Virus

The largest danger of not treating herpes is that you can pass herpes on to your sexual partner. While a cure for herpes is not available, medication can suppress symptoms and lower your chances of passing the virus on. However, without any form of treatment, you can spread herpes at any time. If you are pregnant and have untreated herpes, you can transmit the virus to your fetus. Herpes can cause brain damage, blindness and death in the newborn baby. Also, complications from herpes can result in a premature birth or miscarriage.

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