How Can People Test For Herpes
A person can ask for a herpes test at any sexual health clinic or a doctors office. A healthcare professional will either swab a blister or draw a blood sample.
At-home herpes tests often require a blood sample through a finger prick.
Once a person receives their test results, they should contact a doctor to discuss treatment options, if necessary.
Valacyclovir Vs Acyclovir Vs Famciclovir: The Facts
Medically reviewed by Patrick Carroll, MD
There are several drugs used to treat herpes, all of which are antiviral medications. Some of the most popular, effective and widely used herpes medications currently available are valacyclovir , acyclovir and famciclovir . All of these drugs work through a similar mechanism, and all have their place in treating cases of HSV-1 and HSV-2.
In this guide, comparing valacyclovir vs. acyclovir vs. famciclovir to explain which one is the best choice for treating and managing the virus.
How Can I Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
If you have lots of herpes outbreaks, your doctor may tell you to take medicine every day this is called suppressive therapy. It can help prevent future herpes outbreaks, and lower your chances of giving herpes to your partners.
Whether or not you take medicine to treat herpes, taking care of yourself by eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress might help keep future outbreaks from popping up.
No one knows for sure what triggers genital herpes outbreaks. Other infections, surgery, sex, your period, skin irritations, and stress may cause outbreaks. Sunburns, injuries to your lips, or other infections can cause oral herpes flare-ups. Try to avoid getting sunburned if you have oral herpes.
Genital herpes outbreaks usually happen less often and become shorter and weaker after a few years whether or not you get treated.
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What Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a Sexually Transmitted Infection , caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus . It is caused by engaging in sexual activity with a person who is infected with the herpes virus. Herpes cannot be cured, but symptoms can be managed with antivirals such as aciclovir and valaciclovir. HSV is the same virus which causes both cold sores and herpes.
The herpes virus lives in the nervous system around the hip and pelvis region, predominantly affecting the genital area. The virus lays dormant until it is activated, which is when it will cause symptoms.
Whilst herpes will not go away forever, symptoms such as blisters will go away by themselves once they heal. Herpes treatment can help symptoms to go away faster and reduce the severity of an outbreak. You can also take herpes treatment to reduces the chances of having an outbreak.
Herpes treatment is also effective in reducing the risk of passing the virus on to sexual partners.
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Herpes Symptoms And Signs
In order to diagnose herpes, a health care provider can swab an area of visibly active herpes infection or, if symptoms arent active, a blood test can be given that measures the number of herpes antibodies present in the body. The antibodies dont indicate herpes itself, but rather show the immune systems response to the presence of the virus in the body. Its important to note that sometimes a swab can give false negative results since herpes lesions need to be large enough to yield enough detectable virus and if the outbreak is already healing it also may not be detected in a swab.
The most common herpes symptoms include:
- Developing either a single cold sore or cluster of multiple cold sores that form on the lips, inside the mouth, or on the genitals, buttocks and upper thighs.
- Sores can sometimes be severe, painful and rupture and cause fluid to be secreted out.
- Some herpes canker sores develop a thin, white coating and burn when touched while they healing.
- Around herpes cold sores, its common to feel pain, tenderness and other symptoms of a rash, such as redness or signs of swelling.
- Some people are able to tell before an outbreak if one is going to occur because they feel tingling, itchy sensations near the affected area.
- Some people develop other symptoms during herpes outbreaks that are similar to those caused by a cold or the flu. This may include fatigue, irritability, aches or a slight fever.
Understanding Herpes With H Hunter Handsfield Md
Herpes expert H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, explains the basics about genital herpes, including the difference between genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, testing options and the importance of knowing virus type, and the three-prong strategy for prevention. See more herpes videos at sexualhealthTV.com.
Have a question about herpes youd like Dr. Handsfield or our other experts to answer? Visit our Ask the Experts page to learn how.
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Herpes Treatment With Valaciclovir
Valaciclovir is an antiviral medication, commonly referred to as valacyclovir. It is also available as a branded version called Valtrex. Valaciclovir works by stopping the herpes virus from multiplying and spreading, helping the bodyâs immune system to fight the infection. This reduces the severity of symptoms and helps to speed up the healing process. It takes around 2-3 days for valaciclovir to start working. To treat an outbreak, you should take one 500mg tablet two times a day.
You can also take valaciclovir to lower the chances of having an outbreak. This is useful for those who get more than 6 outbreaks a year and is referred to as suppression therapy. The dose for suppression therapy is one tablet daily. Although it is safe to take valaciclovir daily, you should review treatment with your doctor at regular intervals.
Side effects include stomach upset, dizziness and skin reactions, although not everyone gets them. Valaciclovir may be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding under advice of a doctor. You may need monitoring and valaciclovir will usually only be prescribed if the benefits are thought to outweigh the risks.
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.
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Herpes Simplex : Causes Symptoms And Best Treatments
|Herpes simplex virus type 2 . Photo: The Native Antigen Company|
What is Herpes simplex virus type 2 ?
As said by The World Health Organization, HSV-2 infection is widespread throughout the world and is almost exclusively sexually transmitted, causing genital herpes. HSV-2 is the main cause of genital herpes, which can also be caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Infection with HSV-2 is lifelong and incurable.
Causes of Herpes
In rare circumstances, HSV-2 infection can be transmitted from a mother to her infant during delivery to cause neonatal herpes .
Signs and Herpes’s symptoms
Herpes simplex 2 causes most genital herpes, but HSV-1 type can cause it, too. If you have it, you may have a rash or blisters that can ooze or bleed. But most people have either mild symptoms or none at all. But you can still pass it to a partner without knowing you have it, according to WebMD.
Genital herpes infections often have no symptoms, or mild symptoms that go unrecognised. Most infected people are unaware that they have the infection. Typically, about 10-20% of people with HSV-2 infection report a prior diagnosis of genital herpes. However, clinical studies following people closely for new infection demonstrate that up to a third of people with new infections may have symptoms.
Additional research is underway to develop more effective prevention methods against HSV infection, such as vaccines or topical microbicides .
Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no cure for genital herpes. However, daily use of antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks. Antiviral medicines also can reduce the chance of spreading it to others.
Though several clinical trials have tested vaccines against genital herpes, there is no vaccine currently available to prevent infection. One vaccine trial showed efficacy among women whose partners had HSV-2, but only among women not infected with HSV-1. Efficacy was not observed among men whose partners had HSV-2. Another trial testing the same vaccine showed some protection from genital HSV-1 infection, but none from HSV-2.
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Protecting Your Partner And Preventing Herpes Transmission
Research shows that the single greatest fear is the fear of transmission to partners, says Dr. Handsfield.
The main ways to avoid transmitting herpes are:
- Learn to recognize how you feel when an outbreak is on the way, and stop having sex immediately.
- Dont have sex during active outbreaks.
- Always use condoms but dont rely on them during outbreaks. They dont completely cover infectious areas.
- Only after all sores have scabbed over and healed should you have sex again.
- Avoid touching your herpes sores, because you can spread them to other places on your body that way. Whenever you touch a sore, wash your hands immediately.
- Dont kiss people or have sex if you have a cold sore.
- Tell potential partners about having herpes before having sex with them, even though it may be hard.
- Ask your doctor about taking antiviral drugs regularly.
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
The symptoms of genital herpes vary a lot. Most people have very mild symptoms or none at all.
Symptoms can vary from a mild area of irritation to more painful blisters or sores and generally feeling unwell. Common symptoms may include:
- sometimes sores on the cervix
If you are having a first episode of genital herpes, you are more likely to also feel generally unwell and have fever, headache and general bone and muscle aches.
This may last for several days, during or after which reddened areas may appear on your genitals. These may develop into painful blisters. The blisters then burst, generally to leave sores that gradually heal, usually without scarring.
The severity of this first episode varies between people, but for some it may be severe and last for up to 3 weeks if not treated. These symptoms should quickly resolve with treatment. There is effective treatment available if symptoms are problematic.
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When Is Preventive Treatment Considered
Some people have outbreaks of genital herpes very often or experience especially severe symptoms. Then it may be a good idea to take antiviral medication for a longer time including during symptom-free phases. The goal is to prevent further outbreaks and to keep the symptoms from becoming so severe. Also, the antiviral medication reduces the likelihood of infecting others. As preventive treatment, the WHO recommends the following:
- aciclovir: 400 mg two times per day,
- famciclovir: 250 mg two times per day or
- valaciclovir: 500 mg once per day.
Research shows that preventive treatment can considerably lower the risk of further outbreaks. The people participating had four or more herpes outbreaks per year before the start of the studies, and then took an antiviral medication or a fake treatment for up to one year. A comprehensive analysis of the study results shows that
- 96 out of 100 people who took a placebo had at least one further outbreak of genital herpes.
- 46 out of 100 people who were given antiviral medication had at least one further outbreak of genital herpes.
In other words, the medication prevented further outbreaks in 50 out of 100 people within one year.
People with very frequent herpes outbreaks also benefited from preventive treatment: In one study involving people with very frequent outbreaks, the medication lowered the number of episodes in one year from 11 to 2.
What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
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Best For Quick Results: Stdcheck
STDcheck offers tests for both HSV-1 and HSV-2. A person can order an HSV-2 test for $45, or they can order a test for both HSV-1 and HSV-2 for $79. There is also an option to order a test package that tests for 10 different STIs.
This option is best for people who need their results quickly.
Treatment Options Available For You
Depending on where you are, there will be a variety of treatment options available to you. In the United States, youâll need a positive identification of the infection before a doctor will prescribe treatment. Your options include college campus health centers , local health clinics, your primary care physician or direct to lab services, such as STDAware.com.
If you think you may have an HSV 2 infection, contact our health counselors today and we will work to help you find a solution.
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How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
Can Genital Herpes Be Prevented
It is safest to:
- always use condoms and dental dams, even when there are no sores or blisters present
- avoid sex when there are sores or blisters present you are most infectious at this time
- avoid sex with someone who has any blisters, sores or other symptoms of genital herpes
- avoid oral sex when there is any sign of a cold sore
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Which Herpes Medication Is Best
In the war between valacyclovir vs. acyclovir vs. famciclovir, the truth is, there is no best herpes medication. All three of the drugs are safe and proven to be effective as treatments for HSV-1, HSV-2, shingles and other forms of the herpes virus.
If you think you might have herpes, the best approach is to speak to your doctor about treatment options. Your doctor will be able to provide advice on the most effective drug for treating herpes based on your symptoms, immune system, lifestyle and overall health.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standardshere.
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How Long Do Herpes Symptoms Take To Show
On average, it takes about 4 days after exposure to start showing the symptoms of herpes. The herpes incubation period ranges between 2 and 12 days. The most common early sign of herpes is sores around the genitals or mouth.
The first time you get the herpes virus, it may cause flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, headache, and body aches. Then, subsequent outbreaks may cause sores and less severe symptoms. Generally, the frequency of outbreaks lessens over time.
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