How Do You Get Herpes
Oral herpes can be spread by oral-to-oral contact like kissing or by sharing drinks.
The likelihood of contracting herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from sharing objects such as silverware, soap, or towels is low, but it is possible, says Dr. Benitez.
While an outbreak isn’t necessary for herpes transmission, herpes is most contagious about 3 days before an outbreak this usually coincides with an itching or burning sensation or pain in the area where the outbreak will occur.
Can Cold Sores Be Serious
In most cases, cold sores are just unsightly and painful but clear up within 15 days. However, cold sores can be serious when they affect:vii
- Your eyes If the infection reaches the inner layers of your cornea the transparent layer at the front of your eye and remains untreated, it can be sight-threatening.
- Babies Because their immune systems havent yet developed properly, babies cant fight the virus easily and if the infection spreads to their vital organs, it can be fatal.
- People with weakened immunity As with babies, the infection may spread to vital organs. People at risk include those undergoing chemotherapy for cancer or anyone with a condition affecting their immunity such as diabetes or HIV.
Can You Spread Herpes Without An Outbreak
Yes. It is possible for a person to spread herpes without an outbreak. As long as the person has a herpes infection, they can spread it even if an outbreak has never occurred.
Fortunately, many people who have a herpes infection never have an outbreak. If an outbreak does occur, visible symptoms such as sores and blisters will show up in the affected area. These symptoms may become visible about two and a half weeks after exposure.
When a person has an initial outbreak, they may experience symptoms such as painful urination and muscle and joint pain.
You May Like: Can Herpes Turn Into Hiv
Can Chlamydia Lie Dormant And Not Show Up On A Test
A significant number of men do not typically show symptoms for STDs such as chlamydia although they are very capable of spreading the disease. Even though they are generally asymptomatic or dormant, they will still test positive for the STD. Most STDs that are in a dormant stage can be detected with a test.
Reactivation And Recurrent Outbreaks
- Extreme temperatures
- Menstrual periods
The virus then travels to the skin and can cause another, often milder, outbreak. However, reactivation may not cause any symptoms.
Before an outbreak, some people experience prodrome. This is characterized by tingling, itching, or pain in the affected areas before the lesions appear.
Also Check: How Do You Test For Herpes
Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
It is important to avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. A first episode during pregnancy can create a greater risk of transmission to a newborn.
Fortunately, it is rare for women with genital herpes to infect their babies. If you know that you have genital herpes before becoming pregnant, your physician will monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy. If you have an active outbreak at the time of delivery, a C-section may be recommended. Depending on individual diagnosis, though, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses suppressive therapy to reduce the frequency of C-section.
Can Herpes Lay Dormant For Years
4.3/5Herpes can lay dormantyears
Similarly, how long can herpes dormant?
Herpes dormancy periodThe average is two to four outbreaks a year, but somepeople can go years without an outbreak. Once a person hascontracted HSV, they can transmit the virus evenduring dormant periods when there are no visible sores orother symptoms. The risk of transmitting the virus when itsdormant is less.
Similarly, can herpes show up years later? A person may show symptoms within days aftercontracting genital herpes, or it may take weeks, months, oryears. Some people may have a severe outbreak within daysafter contracting the virus while others may have a first outbreakso mild that they do not notice it.
Likewise, can herpes be dormant for 30 years?
Genital herpes is caused by the herpessimplex virus . Sexual contact is the primary way thevirus spreads. After the initial infection, the virus canlie dormant in the body and can reactivate severaltimes a year.
Is it possible to have herpes and never have an outbreak?
When it does, it is often only once. Then, the personnever has another outbreak even though they stillhave the herpes infection. Their sex partners dontget this infection because HSV-1 infections arealready so common. Some people, however, get genitalherpes outbreaks, often several times eachyear.
Read Also: Is There Medicine For Genital Herpes
Don’t Miss: Is Herpes Simplex 1 Curable
When To See A Doctor
People should see their doctor if they think they might have herpes, or if they have any symptoms of herpes. Getting tested for herpes is also important to rule out other sexually transmitted infections.
People can visit their doctor or a sexual health clinic for a test. If people have any sores or blisters present, a healthcare provider will use a swab to take a sample from the sores. The sample will indicate whether or not the sores are due to a herpes infection.
Some people may be concerned that they have the herpes virus but no symptoms. In such cases, a doctor might be able to order a blood test to check for the virus in a persons blood. However, the
What Does Genital Herpes Look Like
While some people with genital herpes will never have any symptoms, other people can develop symptoms within a few weeks of being infected.
Often, before the lesions appear, patients describe a prodrome, characterized by a tingling or burning sensation in the area where the lesions will develop that can be noticed during urination, along with itching or discomfort in the genital area.
You can also have the following symptoms:
- Blisters on the mouth or lips
- Fever, headache or pain in the joints
- Trouble urinating
The symptoms of genital herpes often go away and come back as recurring outbreaks. For most people, the first outbreak is the worst, and can last from two to three weeks. Future flare-ups are often less severe and do not last as long. Still, some people shed the virus regularly. The following triggers can make outbreaks more likely to occur:
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Menstrual periods
Recurrent genital herpes is most common in the first year after the initial infection and decreases as time goes on.
In many cases, anti-herpes medicine can help patients. When a person experiences a prodrome and suspects a recurrence is going to happen, they begin taking anti-herpes medications that lessen symptoms and shorten the time of the outbreak.
How Dormant Herpes Springs Back To Life
Researchers may have finally revealed the way that herpes is able to go into and come out of hiding.
A herpes simplex virus infection lasts for life. No vaccination can prevent it, and no treatment can fully eradicate it.
The problem for doctors is that, most of the time, herpes lies dormant in nerve cells and becomes treatable only during unpredictable periods of activity.
Now, researchers many from Cornell Universitys Baker Institute for Animal Health, in Ithaca, NY may have discovered what allows the genes in HSV to sometimes turn on.
The researchers have found that herpes viral DNA sometimes escapes suppressive protein wrappings in nerve cells and becomes reactivated.
Luis M. Schang, Ph.D., the senior author of the summary of these findings, explains that herpes on-again-off-again nature is why antivirals cannot cure the infection and why, so far, its been impossible to develop a vaccine. He points out that Latency and reactivation are a major focus for herpes virus research.
The teams findings may provide the key to more successful HSV research and treatment. A summary of their work appears in PLOS Pathogens.
3.7 billion people under the age of 50 have an HSV-1 infection, which usually causes oral herpes. They also report that 417 million people aged 1549 have an HSV-2 infection, which usually causes genital herpes.
In addition, among people with compromised immune systems, the symptoms of herpes infection may be more severe and frequent.
Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
Recommended Reading: How Long Does First Outbreak Of Herpes Last
Types Of Tests Used To Diagnose Herpes
There are a number of tests used to diagnose herpes, depending on whether lesions are present.
- Symptomatic testing: Samples taken from lesions can be used to detect the virus with a viral culture or nucleic acid amplification test . Of the two, NAAT is more sensitive . A polymerase chain reaction test may be used if herpes is suspected as the cause of a systemic or central nervous system infection, such as encephalitis or meningitis.
- Asymptomatic testing: A blood test may be used to detect HSV antibodies. This is an option for people who had a previous outbreak or had recent exposure. Very recent herpes infections may not be detected. Retesting in a few months may be necessary for accurate results. Some blood tests can also specifically identify an HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection.
Due to the high rates of false-positives, screening for genital herpes in asymptomatic adults and adolescents is not recommended.
Who Might Get Herpes Simplex
People of any age can contract herpes simplex. You are more likely to get the virus if you:
- Were assigned female at birth.
- Have had multiple sex partners.
- Started having sex at a young age.
- Have a history of any sexually transmitted infection .
- Have a weakened immune system.
- Dont use condoms for intercourse and dental dams for oral sex.
Who gets HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes?
Anyone can get HSV-1. Most people contract HSV-1 during childhood. It spreads when an adult who has the virus has close contact with a child, such as when a family member kisses a child.
Who gets HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes?
Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms or dental dams.
People assigned female at birth are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black people who were AFAB are especially vulnerable, with an estimated 1 in 2 people AFAB between the ages of 14 and 49 infected with HSV-2.
Recommended Reading: How Do You Know You Have Herpes Outbreak
What If My Partner Already Has Herpes Simplex
When you and your partner have the same virus you will not reinfect each other even on a different part of the body, you will not catch it back yourself on a different part of your body.
If you have caught a genital infection from a partners genitals, they will not catch the virus back on their face.
If you have caught a genital infection from a partners facial cold sores, they will not catch the virus back on their genitals.
If you have caught it on your face from your partners genitals, then they will not catch it on their face if they do oral sex on you.
If you have caught it on your face from your partners facial cold sores, then they will not catch it on their genitals if you do oral sex on them.
A two-page summary is available.
Myth #: Your Sex Life Is Over
While theres no cure, herpes treatment is simple and can shorten or prevent outbreaks, so you can still have a love life.
People have a disproportionate fear of herpes in relation to any other STI, Grimes says. They feel like their sex lives are ruined forever and thats in no way the case.
If you have the virus, your doctor may prescribe a medication like Zovirax or Valtrex to keep on hand in case of a flare-up. And if you experience outbreaks often, your provider may recommend daily dosing. However you treat it, its worth remembering that herpes is a condition to manage it doesnt define you.
If you have to be perfect for your new partner, that partner will be looking a very, very long time to find a match! Grimes says. Everyone has something, and since one in six Americans between 14-49 have HSV-2, odds are very high that your next partner is in the same boat. The main issue is to have productive conversations around these issues.
So theres no reason for all the stigma and secrecy surrounding herpes, since its safe to assume more people have it than you think. And if youre diagnosed with the virus, your provider will help you find a treatment plan thats easy, effective, and fit for your lifestyle.
Recommended Reading: Does Shingrix Help With Herpes Outbreaks
How Can You Catch Herpes
Like most sexual transmitted infections , herpes is passed on when someone with an active outbreak of the virus has sexual intercourse with a partner. It may also be spread by contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, including blood, saliva, vaginal fluid, semen or any fluid expelled from a weeping herpes blister.
The virus is passed onto the other person through tiny breaks in the mucous membranes or skin. Because viruses are very small, herpes can easily spread even if the breaks are only microscopic. This means you cannot conduct a visual inspection of a partner and guarantee that they will not catch the disease.
It is also worth noting that while the virus is generally passed on during the phase when the blisters are visible on the skin, there is also the possibility of infection spreading even when blisters are not showing.
This is due to something called asymptomatic shedding. This is where the virus continues to shed into bodily fluids even when dormant. This kind of shedding is most common during the first 12 months of herpes infections. However, it may continue throughout the life of the infection and you cannot guarantee that because you have no visible sores that your partner will not be infected.
In a monogamous relationship, a female partner carries a substantially higher risk of contracting herpes from an infected male partner than vice-versa.
When Is Herpes Not Contagious Reduce The Transmission Rate
There have been some very interesting studies done by Valtrex about the herpes transmission rate. One study found that suppressive therapy with Valtrex reduced transmission of herpes by 75%.
Within that same study, Valtrex reduced the total time of viral shedding by 73% when compared to the total viral shedding time without suppressive therapy.
There are three general guidelines to reduce the likelihood of transmission:
Of course, by abstaining from sex, you will have the lowest chance of transmission. However, research has found that suppressive therapy may reduce the risk of transmission without the use of condoms in some cases. Approximately 37% of participants from the previously mentioned study reported not using condoms while on suppressive therapy.
We recommend you get the advice of your doctor and, if approved by them, follow all three methods if possible. Learn more about taking daily antivirals here.
You May Like: What Does Herpes Look Like On Your Skin
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.
How Do People Get Herpes
Herpes is transmitted through human-to-human contact, usually through kissing or sex. As long as there is skin contact, a person with herpes can infect another person, even when they are not exhibiting any symptoms.
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are notorious for lying dormant in nerve cells, where they can remain inactive for some time.
When the virus becomes active, it replicates and becomes transmittable through saliva and other body secretions. This process is called viral shedding. During this period, you may or may not experience symptoms.
Once a person becomes infected with the herpes simplex virus, the virus never leaves the body. As a result, the HSV infection may recur from time to time.
Also Check: Can You Sue Someone For Giving Herpes
You May Like: How To Stop Itching From Herpes Outbreak