Herpes is a virus transmitted from an infected person shedding the virus. Mild herpes is simply a less physically traumatic case of the virus. Often referred to as a sexually transmitted disease (STD), the herpes virus actually has eight strains. From these eight, only some are sexually transmitted. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which is oral herpes, and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2), which is genital herpes, are the most widespread of the strains.
Though they are distinct viruses, both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be transmitted orally and via the genitals. Saliva and genital secretions carry the virus from one party to another. HSV-1 is commonly known to produce cold sores found near the lip area, whereas HSV-2 is known to produce genital sores.
Herpes, including mild herpes, is a recurrent infection. When someone refers to mild herpes, it is generally in the context of genital herpes. Regardless of whether it's mild or severe, however, herpes can be a taboo subject. Because it is most often sexually transmitted, people are often quite hush-hush about carrying the virus. That being said, many people infected with mild herpes don’t even know they have it.
Mild herpes is frequently transmitted by the approximately 90 percent of infected persons who do not know they are infected. Furthermore, between 80 percent and 90 percent of herpes victims have a silent initial outbreak during which they have no symptoms. In these cases, many infected persons don’t get tested for HSV, and are therefore in the dark about their disease. People who do have a very mild outbreak may not notice that it’s herpes.
Approximately 20 percent to 25 percent of all sexually active Americans are infected with herpes, many cases of which are of mild herpes. Some experience a first initial outbreak only, while others may experience one or numerous outbreaks a year. A mild herpes outbreak generally consists of one or two lesions on the genitals. A severe outbreak may include open sores on the genitals and mouth, itching, pain while urinating, achiness, swollen glands, and a fever, among other symptoms.
Persons experiencing these symptoms should contact a doctor immediately. Prescription medication is available to those who wish to offset the many effects of the virus, though it works more for some than others. It is advisable to abstain from sex before or during an outbreak, and to use protection at all other times. Even mild herpes can be transmitted during unprotected sex with an infected partner. Additionally, those who have been infected with HSV may be more likely to contract additional STDs such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).