I Had Lesions When I Was Evaluated But My Culture Was Negative Does This Mean That I Dont Have Herpes
Not necessarily. Although lesions can be caused by something other than herpes, false negative herpes tests can occur if the samples are not taken appropriately, if there is a long transport time between the clinic and the laboratory, or if cultures were taken late in the course of the lesions. Lesions that occur early in the course of a herpes outbreak are much more likely to have positive cultures than cultures taken after the lesions crust over.
How Does Herpes Simplex Spread
Herpes spreads through close contact with a person who has the infection. The virus can be found in skin and saliva. If you have herpes simplex, you are most likely to pass the virus to another person when you have sores. But you can infect someone else even if you have no symptoms. Healthcare providers call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
People may get HSV-1 through
- Touching a persons skin near the mouth.
- Sharing food utensils, lip balm or razors.
- If you receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, it may spread a herpes infection to your genitals.
People may get HSV-2 through
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
What Are The Outcomes Of Herpes Infection
The first outbreak of herpes simplex is often the worst although not all first outbreaks are severe. Some are so mild that the infected person does not even notice it. Due to this, when the first outbreak of genital herpes is mild and another outbreak happens years later, the person can mistake it for the first outbreak.
Some people only have one outbreak. For others, the virus can become active again. Recurrences tend to be more common during the first year of infection. Over time, the outbreaks tend to become less frequent and milder. This is due to the development of antibodies by the body against the virus.
Also Check: How To Wash Genital Herpes
Why Doctors Dont Automatically Test You For Herpes
OK, clearly herpes is super common. So why dont doctors automatically test for it when you ask to get tested for everything? To answer that question, its important to understand the difference between STI testing and STI screening. Testing is done when you have symptoms, whereas screening is done in the absence of symptomsjust to check to see if youve been exposed.
Doctors will screen for STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia even in the absence of symptoms. This is key from a public health perspective because catching these infections in time can prevent serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease. This happens when an untreated STI like gonorrhea or chlamydia infects reproductive organs, possibly leading to infertility.
Experts dont screen for herpes for a few reasons.
The U.S. Preventative Task Force has recommended against screening asymptomatic adolescents and adults for HSV infections. The rationale is that there is no health benefit thats been proven and there a couple of risks, Dr. Johnston says. One is a false positive test, and the second is a risk of anxiety is not associated with serious health outcomes, yet its still feared.
Even pregnant people who could theoretically risk passing the virus during childbirth are not screened unless they have a history of herpes outbreaks or a current outbreak, Peter Leone, M.D., of UNCs Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases, tells SELF.
Read Also: What Happens When You Get Herpes
What You Should Know Before Donating Blood
Besides saving the lives of others, donating blood can be emotionally and physically beneficial. According to theMental Health Foundation, donating blood can:
- Alleviate stress
- Boost your emotional well-being
- Prevent cardiovascular disease by reducing harmful iron deposits
Also, when you go to donate blood, you get a free health checkup. The checkup will identify whether you are healthy enough to give blood by checking your:
- Hemoglobin levels
Failing the screening could mean that you have a health issue that you were unaware of, and you can seek help before it gets worse.
Donating blood is safe as long as you are a healthy adult. Since the medical personnel use sterile equipment for each donor, you dont have to worry about picking up diseases from other donors. However, depending on your physiology and other factors, you may briefly experience these side effects after giving blood:
- Slight bruising, swelling, or bleeding where the needle entered your arm
- Arm pain, numbness, or tingling
If you experience physical weakness after donating blood, it should pass after a while. You can speed up your recovery by resting with your feet up and drink lots of water, herbal tea, or broth.
If you drink or smoke, avoid doing either at least 12 hours before donating blood. Lastly, wear a sleeveless or short-sleeved shirt so that your blood-giving arm will be easily accessible.
Recommended Reading: When Do Herpes Outbreaks Occur
Read Also: Is Herpes The Same As Hiv
Support And Advice For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.
Doctors Dont Advise Getting A Blood Test For Herpes Without Any Symptoms
Hilda Hutcherson, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, is one of those doctors. I usually dont do tests for herpes someone has a lesion or a sore, something I can see, I will do a swab and take it to a culture or check the DNA on the materials I removed, she says. If theres nothing there and I do a blood test and the blood test comes back positive, lets say its positive for type 1, what does that really mean? Most people are positive for type 1. She adds that someone could be HSV-1-positive and either have or not have genital herpes. The result doesnt mean much, and it makes people go crazy.
Hutchersons motto is pretty simple: Why stress yourself over something if you havent seen anything especially when its something as common as herpes? Lets say they have a blood test come in positive but theyve never had a lesion. Now what? You may never get a lesion, she says. Its for this reason that she recommends people do not get tested for herpes unless they have a visible lesion that can be cultured and sent to a lab. Lets say you get tested anyway and it comes back positive, despite the fact that you have no symptoms. What do you do?
Recommended Reading: What Is The Best Treatment For Herpes Zoster
What Are The Treatments For Herpes Infection
There is no specific treatment for herpes. The sores are often clear without any treatment.
- For the treatment of herpes infection, the doctor may prescribe a dose of some antiviral medicines. It helps in minimizing the infection and curing the blisters on the skin. There are antiviral medicines to reduce the infection, such as Famciclovir , Valacyclovir , Acyclovir, Cloviderm, Aciherpin, etc.
- An antiviral ointment or cream can help in relieving the burning, itching or tingling sensation on the skin.
- One should maintain good oral and genital hygiene if infected by the herpes infection.
- One should wear loose, comfortable clothes to prevent any irritation to the sores when infected by genital herpes.
This infection does not have a vigorous treatment and it resolves in some time.
How Will My Doctor Know If I Have Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at your symptoms. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. In certain situations, a blood test may be used to look for herpes antibodies. Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider and ask whether you should be tested for herpes or other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or how long you have been infected.
Also Check: What Does Herpes On Your Skin Look Like
Recommended Reading: How To Know You Have Herpes
Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Many people who have genital herpes may not be aware they have the infection, because they may not have any symptoms.
The first episode of herpes can cause considerable pain and distress. Symptoms of the first episode may include:
- flu-like symptoms such as feeling unwell, headaches and pains in the back and legs, with or without enlarged glands in the groin
- small blisters around the genitals these break open to form shallow, painful ulcers, which scab over and heal after one to two weeks
- small cracks in the skin with or without an itch or tingling
- redness or a distinct rash
- some people also have considerable pain and swelling in the genital area, and hence may have additional pain and difficulty passing urine.
Wouldnt Testing Everyone Stop The Spread Of Genital Herpes
We dont know. There is no evidence that diagnosing genital herpes with a blood test in someone without symptoms would change their sexual behavior and stop the virus from spreading. In addition, without knowing the benefits of testing, the risk of shaming and stigmatizing people outweighs the potential benefits. For these reasons, testing everyone for herpes is not recommended at this time.
Don’t Miss: Does Bleach Kill Herpes Virus On Surfaces
What If My Partner Already Has Cold Sores On The Face Or Anywhere
If your new partner has had cold sores in the past, this either means that they have the same herpes virus as you, or will have the other type . When you both have the same type, it is highly unlikely that either of you will reinfect the other anywhere on the body. If you have different types and either of you catches a second type, symptoms will probably be slight or non-existent. This is because the antibodies for one type will have some immediate effect on the other type as well. It is called partial protection.
Can Genital Herpes Be Treated
Your physician can prescribe different medications to help reduce your symptoms and speed up the healing of an outbreak. These medicines work best when you start them soon after an outbreak occurs.
To reduce pain during an outbreak:
- Sit in warm water in a portable bath or bathtub for about 20 minutes. Avoid bubble baths.
- Keep your genital area clean and dry, and avoid tight clothes.
- Take over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid aspirin.
Let your physician know if you are worried about your genital herpes. He or she can recommend a support group to help you cope with the virus.
Don’t Miss: How To Test For Mouth Herpes
Why Should I Get Tested
Genital herpes does not often show signs or symptoms until you have an outbreak. If you have had unprotected sex with someone who has genital herpes, then you may have caught it too. It is important to get tested so that you do not pass it on to someone else.
It is very important to get tested if you are a pregnant woman and have a partner with genital herpes. This is because your baby could also become infected if you get genital herpes too. Herpes infections in babies can be life-threatening.
You May Like: Can You Have Sex With Someone With Herpes
If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs
No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.
You May Like: How To Reduce Herpes Flare Ups
How Can I Best Learn To Cope With Herpes Simplex
Some people feel distressed or embarrassed about their herpes simplex infection. Its important to understand that the herpes virus is common. For most people, herpes doesnt significantly interfere with daily life.
To cope with negative feelings, you may consider:
- Connecting with others through support groups or online forums.
- Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.
- Speaking with a therapist.
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.
Read more about protecting a partner from genital herpes in the transmission leaflet, free to members. The information is posted or sent by email.
A two-page summary is available.
Read Also: How To Not Catch Genital Herpes
My Partner Doesnt Have Genital Herpes So How Can I Have Caught It
Your partner could be one of the two out of three people with herpes simplex who have it so mildly they do not realise. So they could have sex when the virus is active. Mild symptoms can appear as a pimple, a little cut or an itchy bit of skin and yet these are very infectious. When people with these mild symptoms learn to recognise them, then they can avoid sex at these times. Another possibility is that your partner does not have herpes simplex and you caught it from a previous partner. It is possible to have a first outbreak many years after first catchin it.
Herpes Diagnosis In A Newborn Baby
Diagnosing herpes in children is complicated. Children arent screened for the infection. In other words, only symptoms should alert the parent that all is not okay. It should prompt a diagnosis that could be done with a swab sample. Nevertheless, a complicated herpes infection calls for specific tests like a lumbar puncture.
Dont Miss: Can Urgent Care Diagnose Herpes
Don’t Miss: Where To Get Checked For Herpes
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Some people never develop symptoms. They dont know they have the herpes virus that causes genital herpes. They may unknowingly infect others. You can have the herpes virus for years and not have symptoms, so its hard to know when or from whom you got it.
When symptoms occur, theyre usually worse during the first outbreak or flare-up . Symptoms typically appear within two to 20 days after infection. Active symptoms may last up to four weeks.
You may experience:
Read Also: How To Treat Herpes Skin Rash
Transmission Ofherpes Simplex Viruses
Both Herpes Simplex-1 andHerpes Simplex-2 are contracted via contact with the mucosal andabraded skin surfaces. Since HSV-2 is tropic for the genital regions,transmission of HSV-2 is usually through sexual contact. HSV-1, whichusually infects the mouth and lips, is usually transmitted via kissing orthrough the exchange of premasticated food, as in the case of HSV-1seropositive mothers pre-masticating food for their young children. Following contact, viral replication ensues and infection of eithersensory or autonomic nerve endings may occur. Virus, or most likely thenucleocapsid, is transported intraaxonally to the nerve cell bodies inganglia. HSV-1 has an affinity for the sensory nerve cells in the upperpart of the body and thus lies dormant in the cranial nerves. HSV-2prefers the sensory nerve cells in the genital region and thus lies latentin the dorsal root ganglia located in the lower part of the back. Despitethese propensities for certain regions of the body, both herpes simplexviruses can infect other parts of the body.
Also Check: How Can I Prevent Getting Herpes From My Partner
What Is Being Tested
Herpes is a common viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus . The virus exists as two main types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV testing identifies the presence of the virus in a sample from a blister, sore or fluid to diagnose an active herpes infection or testing detects antibodies in the blood to determine previous exposure to herpes.
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are contagious and periodically cause small fever blisters that break to form open lesions.
However, both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can affect either the oral or genital areas.
The herpes simplex virus can be passed from person-to-person through skin contact while the sores are open and healing and sometimes when there are no visible sores. HSV-2 is the type most often spread during sex, but HSV-1 may also infect the genital area during oral sex.
Most people who have HSV-2 are unaware they are infected because signs and symptoms may be mild and go unnoticed.
Once you are infected and the initial infection resolves, the virus remains in your body in a latent form for the rest of your life. During periods of stress or illness, the virus may reactivate and you may have periodic outbreaks. People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those who have had an organ transplant, may have more frequent and serious outbreaks of HSV.
Herpes may be tested a few different ways: