Myth: You Always Get A Herpes Outbreak Soon After Becoming Infected
Herpes is a sneaky infection. It can exist in the body for months or even years without showing symptoms, but itâs still contagious nonetheless.
If you do develop an outbreak, it will most likely happen two to twelve days after initial exposure to the virus. After the blisters break, they can take up to four weeks to heal.
Fortunately, subsequent outbreaks tend to be less intense. Recurring outbreaks are common but donât last nearly as long. These sores tend to heal within three to seven days, and the number of outbreak periods may even decrease over time.
When To Seek Care
Home remedies may be enough to help you get through an outbreak before it heals and goes away.
But seek immediate medical attention if herpes symptoms are disruptive to your daily life or if youre experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Sores or blisters dont go away on their own after 2 weeks or get worse over time.
- Pain or discomfort becomes severe and distracting, even with home treatment.
- You have severe symptoms like a fever that dont get any better for more than a week.
- You have severe pain or discomfort when you urinate or have a bowel movement.
- You feel any hardness or lumps under the skin around the infected area or in your genital area.
- You have trouble passing urine or stool or cant do either without severe pain or obstruction.
If My Shingles Rash Is Mild Or Has Mostly Healed Do I Need To See A Doctor
Its a good idea to see a doctor whenever you have a case of shingles, no matter how mild.
Prompt antiviral treatment not only decreases the duration and severity of the rash but can also decrease the chance of developing post-herpetic neuralgia. Post-herpetic neuralgia is a complication of shingles characterized by long-term, debilitating pain.
If your rash has mostly healed, its still a good idea to see a doctor so they can monitor the rash for changes or complications, such as a bacterial skin infection that forms on top of your existing rash. This is known as a superimposed infection.
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How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnant Women
While genital herpes rarely causes serious health problems in healthy men and women, HSV-2 can be dangerous for pregnant women and the neonate, particularly during the last trimester of pregnancy. The virus may cause premature labor and babies can contract the virus in the womb or when passing through the birth canal.
How Is Herpes Treated
There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. The blisters usually heal and go by themselves, so you may not always need treatment. If treatment is needed, there are antiviral medicines which can help. These can shorten outbreaks, relieve discomfort and stop symptoms from getting worse.
The antiviral treatment is most effective when you take it within the first five days of symptoms appearing. Avoid touching the blisters as this can spread the infection. If treatment requires you to apply cream to a sore, gently pat the cream on, being careful not to rub around the surrounding area.
You can ease your symptoms by:
keeping the affected area clean using plain or salt water to prevent blisters or ulcers from becoming infected
applying petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to any blisters or ulcers to reduce pain when passing urine
asking a healthcare provider to recommend painkilling creams
avoiding tight clothing because it may irritate the blisters and ulcers.
Donât have sex until you or your partner have finished your treatment, and the blisters or ulcers have gone. Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes and over time they tend to occur less often.
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How Do I Test For Herpes
If you think you have symptoms of genital herpes or have been at risk of infection, you should speak to a healthcare professional.
There are different tests available. If you have symptoms, the most common test is to take a swab from a blister. The fluid can be tested for the herpes simplex virus. A herpes blood test exists but is not routinely available.
If you have genital herpes you should be tested for other STIs. Itâs important that you tell your recent sexual partner/s so they can also get tested and treated. Many people who have herpes do not notice anything wrong, and by telling them you can help to stop the virus being passed on.
What Is The Treatment For Oral Herpes
Possibly more commonly known to the majority of us as cold sores or fever blisters, oral herpes is primarily caused by HSV-1 . This type of herpes is typically spread through direct skin contact with someone who has the virus. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, many people contract HSV-1 as babies if they have been kissed by a family member who had a cold sore.
Though oral herpes usually clears up on its own within a number of days, there are some things you can consider that will help relieve any irritation or pain:
- Cream to ease pain and irritation
- Antiviral cream to speed up healing time
- Cold sore patches
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Other Treatments For Cold Sores
With Sitavig not guaranteed to permanently cure the virus, and the HSV vaccine still a few years away, there is currently no way to get rid of your cold sores forever. However, there are lots of great treatments out there which can help your cold sores to heal much faster, as well as reducing pain instantly.
Here are some of the most effective treatments for cold sores available on the market today:
Is There A Test For Genital Herpes
Yes. A doctor can take a sample from what appears to be a herpes sore and send it to a lab to be examined. You can also have a blood test. The blood test looks for antibodies to the virus that your immune system would have made when you were infected. HSV-2 almost always infects the genitals, so if antibodies to HSV-2 are detected in the blood, you probably have genital herpes.
A blood test that shows antibodies to HSV-1 means you could have genital or oral herpes. Thatâs because oral herpes, typically caused by HSV-1, can be spread to the genitals during oral sex.
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How Far Away Is A Cure For Herpes
Theres currently no cure for herpes, but that might change in the future.
According to 2020 research published in Nature, scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center removed 90 percent of the HSV-1 virus from cells in mice using gene editing.
However, it takes time to transition potential treatments from animals to humans. In a 2020 news article, one of the researchers that authored the Nature paper estimated that it would be at least 3 years before human trials.
Scientists are also researching the possibility of creating a vaccine to prevent herpes. A 2022 study outlined a new approach to developing an mRNA vaccine for herpes. The vaccine mentioned in the study worked well in mice and guinea pigs.
The researchers say that theyre aiming to conduct human trials before the end of 2022, and the vaccine could be available within the next 10 years.
How Do You Get Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a type of sexually transmitted disease caused mostly by HSV-2. Although HSV-1 can cause herpes rash in the genital area, it is less frequent compared with HSV-2. HSV-1 spreads by skin-to-skin contact, whereas HSV-2 spreads by sexual contact. Genital herpes rash is present on or around the genitals . When rash is in or on around the lips, mouth and throat, it is called oral herpes.
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Can You Pop Herpes Blisters
Like pimples, you may be tempted to pop a cold sore or a herpes blister, but by popping, you are only doing more harm. Popping a cold sore, a genital herpes blister, or a pimple increases the risk that you will worsen the existing infection, introduce a secondary infection, or irritate your skin further. Popping can also make it more likely to form a scar.
It is best to leave the pimples or blisters alone to heal on their own, but if they are too uncomfortable or painful, talk to your doctor.
Dont Risk It!
Although you can likely tell herpes sores and pimples apart just by looking at them, a medical diagnosis will let you know for sure.
Is Genital Herpes Contagious
Yes. When blisters or crusts are present, the virus can be passed by direct contact to others. But the virus can be just as contagious even when you cannot see any sores. Using condoms helps to prevent the spread of infectionbut condoms cannot protect you completely. Because HSV also causes cold sores on the mouth, a person with cold sores can spread HSV through mouth contact with the genital area of another person. The virus can also be carried on hands from the mouth to another area. You can even spread the virus to yourself by touching cold sores on your mouth and then touching other areas of your body.
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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
How To Treat Genital Herpes
There is no cure for genital herpes. It lays dormant in the body for long periods, then reappears as an outbreak of sores.
However, doctors can prescribe medications that reduce the likelihood of recurring outbreaks. These medicines may also lower the risk of transmitting the virus.
When a person has a genital herpes outbreak, they may be able to promote healing and lower the risk of transmitting the virus by:
- avoiding sexual contact with another person until the sores have healed
- keeping the sores clean and dry
- refraining from touching the sores whenever possible
- washing the hands immediately after touching the sores
- using barrier protection during sexual contact until told otherwise by a doctor
The first herpes outbreak is usually the worst subsequent outbreaks tend to become less bothersome.
Genital herpes does not typically cause serious health complications. However, it can make a person more vulnerable to contracting HIV.
If a person has genital herpes sores, viruses and bacteria, including HIV, have more opportunity to enter the body. Avoid scratching the sores, as this can lead to bacterial infection.
Also, having HIV can make genital herpes outbreaks more severe.
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When To Talk With A Doctor
Herpes isnt curable, but it can be treated with antiviral medications. These medications can reduce the severity of an outbreak.
If you suspect you have herpes, make an appointment with a doctor. Its also a good idea to talk with your doctor about a herpes screening if:
- your current or previous sexual partner has herpes
- youre planning to have sex with a new partner
- you had a risky sexual encounter
If youve already been diagnosed with herpes and youre currently experiencing an outbreak, the outbreak might go away without causing complications and without treatment.
However, its wise to make an appointment with your doctor if:
- the outbreak is particularly painful or unbearable
- youre experiencing symptoms of other STIs
- youre experiencing frequent, severe outbreaks
If youre sexually active, its a good idea to have regular STI screenings. You can book appointments for STI screenings with your doctors office. You could also try a local clinic, certain pharmacies, or Planned Parenthood.
How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any needed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms, including 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.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off.
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When To Seek Help For Herpes Symptoms
If your herpes symptoms are bothersome or youre worried about giving someone else the virus, see your doctor or another healthcare provider.
Antiviral medications can help make genital herpes sores go away faster, reduce the number of outbreaks, and lower the risk of transmission.
Consistent use of condoms and dental dams during sex also lowers but doesnt eliminate the risk of transmitting the virus.
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Start A Herpes Treatment You Can Trust
Thereare many treatment options on the market. These include over-the-counter creamsor home remedies such as honey. Choose one that helps to reduce the severity ofyour symptoms, and speed up healing time. Then, follow the instructionsexactly. The sooner you begin your treatment, the better you prevent youroutbreaks. ProsurX isone of the best creams for herpes infections. It can help rapidly clear activeoutbreaks . Besides, the cream can inactivate herpes virus andstop an outbreak before it starts.
Youroutbreaks are getting worse is one of the biggest issues with herpes. Toalleviate the symptoms, choose the right treatment. And take the abovepreventative steps for a better chance of reducing your outbreaks.
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When Is Genital Herpes Most Contagious
During active outbreaks, your viral load is heavier, and at those times you are most likely to infect a sexual partner, says Dr. Baill. Without an outbreak, the viral load is usually insufficient to infect a normal, healthy partner.
Remember, some people with HSV infections never have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at all. Although you are most contagious during outbreaks when sores are visible, you can also be contagious at times when you are free of any visible sores.
How To Keep Herpes Dormant
One person with genital herpes may work at a high-stress job and be in a stressful relationship, and be more prone to outbreak recurrences. Another may have a more stress-free lifestyle that potentially keeps the virus dormant for years or even decades.
We cant all be stress-free all the time, and thats life. To minimize the frequency of outbreaks, its helpful to manage stress in a healthy way. Getting out for a walk, meditating, practicing yoga or mindfulness, relaxing in a bath, or writing in a diary are examples of ways to cope with and manage stress.
A healthy diet helps physically as well as emotionally, and a lysine-rich diet may suppress the herpes virus. All these factors can contribute to less frequent flare-ups.
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Does A Cold Sore On My Mouth Mean I Have Genital Herpes
No, a cold sore on your mouth usually means you have herpes simplex virus type 1 . You can get HSV-1 by kissing someone or sharing utensils, towels, razors, or lipstick with someone who has HSV-1.
HSV-1 cannot turn into HSV-2 , but you can get a cold sore on your mouth from HSV-2 if you give oral sex to someone with HSV-2. Cold sores caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2 are contagious. You can spread it to other people or other parts of your body if you touch an open sore and then touch another part of your body. That means if you have a cold sore and give oral sex to someone, that person will get the herpes virus on his or her genitals.
Avoid touching your cold sore as much as possible. If you touch your cold sore, wash your hands right away to avoid spreading the infection to other parts of your body or other people.
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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