Is Genital Herpes The Same As Cold Sores
Both cold sores and genital herpes are caused by the same herpes simplex viruses. As well as being able to transmit the infection from the lips of one person to the lips of another, or person to person between genital areas, it is also possible to pass the infection between the genital area and the lips.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Contracting Genital Herpes
For people who are sexually active, reduce your risk of the disease by committing to a mutually monogamous relationship. This means both partners were tested and cleared from carrying STDs, including herpes.
Using latex condoms every time you have sex can also protect you. But herpes sores dont only occur in areas covered by a condom. The virus can shed from areas of skin that dont have an obvious sore, so you can still contract the disease if using a condom.
So What Is The Best Herpes Treatment
Valaciclovir and aciclovir have both been proven to reduce the length and severity of herpes outbreaks. Studies show that both treatments are as effective as each other. Aciclovir is a more cost-effective option, however, valaciclovir offers a more convenient dosing regime. Ultimately, this comes down to personal preference, and what works best for you. Before seeking treatment, you should speak to your doctor or pharmacist for medical advice.
Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex
You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.
If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:
- Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
- Touching the skin near their mouth.
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms during intercourse and dental dams during oral sex.
Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.
If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:
- Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.
Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
It is common not to experience symptoms when first exposed to the virus. Symptoms can sometimes take months or even years to appear. However, the symptoms of a primary infection of genital herpes can include:
- small blisters around genitals, thighs, buttocks and rectum
- blisters that burst to leave red, open sores
- vaginal discharge in women
- pain when urinating
- flu-like symptoms
Subsequent outbreaks are usually less severe, as your body will have protective antibodies and can better fight the virus. Initial symptoms of a recurrent outbreak usually start with a tingling or burning sensation before the blisters appear.
Can Herpes Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent getting herpes is to not have sex with anyone who has the virus. It can be spread even when the person who has it isnt showing any symptoms. If your partner has herpes, there is no way of knowing for sure that you wont get it.
If you are infected, there is no time that is completely safe to have sex and not spread herpes. If you have herpes, you must tell your sex partner. You should avoid having sex if you have any sores. Herpes can spread from one person to another very easily when sores are present.
You should use condoms every time you have sex. They can help reduce the risk of spreading herpes. But its still possible to spread or get herpes if youre using a condom.
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What Is The Treatment For Genital Herpes
Genital herpes cant be cured, but antiviral medications can help. They reduce the number of outbreaks so you feel symptom-free longer. If you do have an outbreak, the drugs make your experience less severe and shorter.
If youre concerned about STDs, particularly genital herpes, call Pinky Ronen, MD & Itai Ronen, MD OB/GYNs or schedule an appointment using the online tool.
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How Long Do Sores From Herpes Simplex Last
If youre infected with HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes, you may notice tingling or burning around your mouth in the days before a cold sore appears. These blisters break open and ooze fluid before forming a crust. Usually, sores last for seven to 10 days.
If youre infected with HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes, your first outbreak may last between two to four weeks. Recurrent outbreaks usually last between three to seven days.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
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Which Specialist Treats Herpes
Usually it will be a dermatologist who will detect the symptoms of oral herpes sores in the patient and who will analyse the wounds. In cases of genital herpes, a gynaecologist or urologist may be the one to make a diagnosis and recommend treatment. If you are worried about possible symptoms of herpes, you can also visit your nearest sexual health clinic.
What You Need To Know
- Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes.
- Oral herpes can be spread through intimate contact with someone who is infected.
- Oral herpes can be difficult to diagnose. Often confused with many other infections, it can only be confirmed with a virus culture called PCR, blood test or biopsy. PCR is the preferred test for diagnosing herpes infections.
- The best treatment for oral herpes is antiviral oral medication. Symptomatic treatment may include antiviral ointment, over-the-counter topical anesthetics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents.
Whether you call it a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.
Once infected, a person will have herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. When inactive, the virus lies dormant in a group of nerve cells. While some people never develop any symptoms from the virus, others will have periodic outbreaks of infections.
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How Does Someone Get Eye Herpes
HSV-1 and VZV are both common infections, with 90% of the general population exposed during childhood. Since most herpes cases are asymptomatic, many people are unaware they are infected.5
Type 1 herpes is transmitted through saliva or skin-to-skin contact with someone who is shedding the virus.
After the initial infection, the viruses that cause eye herpes can lay dormant in the body for long periods. Most cases of eye herpes are a reactivation of a dormant infection that can be triggered and reactivated by:
- Certain medications
Herpes Simplex Virus Specialists And Care Centers
The Division of Infectious Disease provides quality inpatient and outpatient care for gonorrhea and other infectious diseases.
Our mission is to provide high-quality care to persons with all types of infections, conduct research to advance medical knowledge to benefit our patients and community and educate the next generation of healthcare providers.
The Division of Infectious Disease offers:
- Comprehensive assessment and medical treatment
- Medication evaluation and teaching by a pharmacist
- Clinical social work services
- Consultation with a patients primary physician
- Clinical research studies
- Infusion therapy services
The Division of Infectious Disease staff includes an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, social workers, pharmacists and advanced practice nurses,* all dedicated to improving the health of those living with acute and chronic infectious diseases.
We are concerned about both the medical aspects of infection and the impact of illness on the emotional wellbeing of patients and their families.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- What is the best treatment for me?
- Are there any side effects to my treatment?
- Is it safe to have unprotected sex if I dont have any sores?
- Can I give myself genital herpes if I also have oral herpes?
- Can I give someone else herpes even if Im not having an outbreak?
- What is the best way to prevent herpes outbreaks?
- Can I live a normal life with herpes?
- Am I at risk of developing any other diseases?
- Are there any support groups in my area?
- If I give my baby herpes, what is the treatment?
How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Herpes Simplex
During an outbreak, a dermatologist often can diagnose herpes simplex by looking at the sores. To confirm that a patient has herpes simplex, a dermatologist may take a swab from a sore and send this swab to a laboratory.
When sores are not present, other medical tests, such as blood tests, can find the herpes simplex virus.
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How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
If you have a herpes sore, your dermatologist can often diagnose you by looking at the sore and taking a swab from the sore. A lab test can tell whether the sore contains the herpes simplex virus , which is what causes genital herpes.
If you dont have a sore or any symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control doesnt recommend testing for most people. You can learn whether you should be tested if you dont have symptoms at:
What Is Herpes Simplex
Herpes simplex is a virus that causes skin infections. The infection lasts your lifetime, and it causes painful or itchy sores and blisters that come and go. Herpes simplex virus typically doesnt cause severe problems. But it can be dangerous in infants and people with weakened immune systems. There are two types of herpes simplex:
- Herpes simplex 1 tends to affect your mouth or face. It causes cold sores. HSV-1 spreads through contact with saliva .
- Herpes simplex 2 is a sexually transmitted disease . It causes sores on skin that comes in contact with the genitals of an infected person.
Sometimes a herpes infection can affect other parts of your body, such as your eyes or other parts of your skin.
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When Is Treatment Necessary
Herpes can cause blisters to form on or around the mouth or genitals. These blisters then break, forming open, painful sores that may take at least 1 week to heal.
The symptoms may clear up on their own, and they may reappear later, in what some people call outbreaks or flare ups.
Once the virus enters the body, it never completely goes away. Some triggers that can cause herpes symptoms to reappear include:
- friction in the genital area
- a weakened immune system
Doctors may prescribe one of the following antiviral medications to help manage herpes symptoms. A person can also take some steps at home to ease the symptoms, and we describe these later in the article.
Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.
What Are The Main Symptoms Of Herpes
Many people with herpes are not aware that they have the virus, particularly in cases of genital herpes. This is because symptoms can be very mild, and in some cases there may be no symptoms at all. However, when symptoms do present, they can be severe.
- swollen lymph nodes
- flu-like symptoms
Symptoms of oral herpes are similar, in that fever, tiredness, and muscle aches may be experienced. One marker of oral herpes is sores around the mouth, or on the gums, tongue, inside of the cheeks, the throat, or the roof of the mouth. Before sores appear, there may be some itching, pain, tingling, or discomfort felt in the infected area.
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Antiviral Medicine Can Be Taken Daily
For some people, taking an antiviral medicine every day works best because they have:
A partner who doesnt have the virus
Even if you treat an outbreak, you can have new outbreaks. Some people have several outbreaks a year. If you have six or more outbreaks a year, your dermatologist may recommend taking an antiviral medicine every day.
Taken daily, this medicine can reduce how often you have an outbreak. Studies show its safe to take daily and can reduce outbreaks by 70% to 80%.
A partner who doesnt have the virus
If your partner doesnt have the virus that causes genital herpes, taking an antiviral medicine every day can decrease the risk of passing the virus to your sexual partner.
Even when taking medicine, you can still give your partner the virus. You can reduce this risk by skipping sex when you have sores and wearing a condom when you dont.
If you decide to take medicine daily, youll likely take it every day for at least one year. At the end of one year, your dermatologist should re-evaluate you to see if you still need to take an antiviral every day.
Side Effects And Follow
Side effects with these herpes drugs are considered mild, and health experts believe these drugs are safe in the long term. Acyclovir is the oldest of the three, and its safety has been documented in people taking suppressive therapy for several years.
People taking suppressive therapy should see their doctor at least once a year to decide if they should continue. You may find taking the pills every day to be inconvenient, the drugs may not work for you, or you may naturally have fewer outbreaks as time goes on. Your doctor can help you make treatment choices to suit your needs.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex
Many people with the infection never experience any herpes symptoms. If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a repeat outbreak. Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.
People who do have herpes symptoms may experience:
- Cold sores around their lips, mouth or tongue. They may look crusty or like fluid-filled blisters.
- Tingling, itching or burning.
- Pain while urinating.
Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
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