Can I Get Genital Herpes More Than Once
There isnt a cure for HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. Infections can come back . 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.
After infection, the virus moves from skin cells to nerve cells. In the nerve cells, it becomes inactive . Certain things may reactivate the virus, such as:
- Illness or fever.
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How To Heal A Herpes Outbreak Quickly
This article was medically reviewed by Lacy Windham, MD. Dr. Windham is a board certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist in Tennessee. She attended medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and completed her residency at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2010, where she was awarded the Most Outstanding Resident in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Most Outstanding Resident in Oncology, and Most Outstanding Resident Overall.There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 93% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 123,697 times.
Herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once the virus enters ones body, it will always remain there by hiding in the nerve roots. When ones immunity is lowered, it will result in outbreak. Sores usually take about 1-2 weeks to heal, but there are some things that you can do to speed the healing process. Things like allowing your sores to be exposed to air, talking to your doctor about medications, and using ointments may help speed healing time. There are also some things that you can do to reduce and prevent outbreaks, such as reducing prolonged exposure to sunlight, reducing friction during sex, and managing stress.
What Stands Out About Yale Medicines Approach To Genital Herpes
As an academic medical center, Yale Medicine provides a wide range of treatment options for patients. Our doctors are expert at diagnosing and treating difficult cases and helping manage the condition for people at risk, such as pregnant women. Our doctors have access to the most advanced technology for diagnosing herpes and other medical conditions.Also, our researchers continue to look for new information about the herpes virus.
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Boosting Your Immune System
Another way to potentially speed up healing for herpes outbreaks and reduce the frequency of future outbreaks is to strengthen your bodys natural immunity. When your immune system is strong, it will be more capable of suppressing the virus.
Some of the recommended ways to boost your immunity include:
- Minimize stress.
- Eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep every night.
- Drink in moderation and avoid smoking.
How Can Herpes Be Prevented
Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmitting or acquiring genital herpes because herpes virus shedding can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.25,26
The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and is known to be uninfected.
Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with partners when herpes lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms, he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.
Daily treatment with valacyclovir decreases the rate of HSV-2 transmission in discordant, heterosexual couples in which the source partner has a history of genital HSV-2 infection. 27 Such couples should be encouraged to consider suppressive antiviral therapy as part of a strategy to prevent transmission, in addition to consistent condom use and avoidance of sexual activity during recurrences.
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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.
What Is The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Genital Warts
Both genital herpes and genital warts are STIs, are spread through skin-to-skin contact, and are caused by a virus. But the viruses that cause genital herpes and genital warts are different:
- Herpes simplex virus is the virus that causes genital herpes.
- Human papillomavirus is the virus that causes genital warts.
There is no cure for either genital herpes or genital warts. But, different medicines can help manage the symptoms of herpes and treat the complications of HPV infections that can cause genital warts.
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What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Pregnant Women
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, there may be a risk of your baby being infected with the virus during delivery. This condition is called neonatal herpes and can be serious or fatal.
Neonatal herpes can result in damage to the central nervous system and can cause mental retardation. Only about 0.1% of babies born in the United States are infected with neonatal herpes even though about 25% to 30% of pregnant women have genital herpes.
Generally, if you are infected with herpes, your doctor will deliver your baby by cesarean section to avoid any risk to your newborn infant.
Women who have herpes before becoming pregnant are at very low risk of transmitting the herpes virus to their babies. If a woman is infected with the herpes virus after becoming pregnant, her baby faces a higher risk of contracting neonatal herpes. Women who are newly infected havent had time to develop the antibodies against the virus and cannot pass them on to the baby for protection.
Talk with your OB/GYN and let them know if you have genital herpes. At the time of your delivery, ask your doctor to examine you early in labor to make sure you dont have any sores or signs of infection like pain, tingling, or itching.
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.
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What Effects Does Herpes Have During Pregnancy
Itâs really important to speak to a healthcare worker if you have herpes during pregnancy, especially if it’s your first outbreak. If you have herpes there’s a risk that your baby can develop âneonatal herpesâ. This can be very dangerous or even fatal for your baby. Your healthcare provider will be able to prescribe antiviral treatment to keep your baby safe and help you have a healthy pregnancy.
Speak to a healthcare worker for more information or if you have any concerns.
How Can I Manage The Symptoms
- Keep the area clean to avoid infection. You can use an ice pack wrapped in a towel to reduce pain and soothe your skin.
- Some people find topical anaesthetic creams such as Emla help
- Drink plenty of fluids â this will dilute your urine and make passing urine less painful.
- Avoid tight clothing as it may irritate the blisters and sores further.
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Myth #: Herpes Is A Really Big Deal
This one is my favorite, having watched a number of friends be traumatized by diagnoses, only to later realize that ultimately, herpes is not that big of a deal.
For starters, Dr. Dweck tells me that one-third of the sexually-active population has been exposed to herpes. Hawkins offers more specific, but equally staggering, numbers as well she says that one-half of the population has oral herpes and one-sixth of the population aged 14 to 49 has genital herpes.
Whats more, my OB/GYN points out that the virus is more so inconvenient than it is nefarious, meaning that while outbreaks, especially your first, can be painful, theyre not doing you any health harm overall. And if you do have significant recurrent outbreaks, theres a medication for that.
For all of these reasons, pros tend to agree that the outsized stigma around herpes is unwarranted and often, its the worst part of being infected. In reality, theres no reason herpes should make someone feel like a social pariah or that it should remain such a closeted, shameful condition.
The fact that so many people are living with this and having the same experiences but we dont talk about it, its really a shame because we could definitely support each other in ways were currently not doing, says Hawkins. Herpes is, of course, not something people would want, but its not as big of a deal as people make it out to be.
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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How Do You Avoid Getting Or Passing On Genital Herpes
If either you or your partner has a herpes outbreak , its best to wait until the symptoms have cleared up before having sex.
Herpes can also be transmitted by sharing sex toys. To reduce your risk, either avoid sharing your sex toys or make sure that they are washed and covered with a new condom between each use.
Use a new dental dam or latex gloves for rimming and fingering or use latex gloves for fisting, especially if you get herpes on your hands.
Talking about your sexual health with your partners, and letting each other know about any infections that you have, can help you make decisions about safer sex together. Reducing your number of sexual partners can help you reduce your risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, like genital herpes. If you are having sex with multiple partners, its even more important to use condoms and to have regular STI checks.
Do They Test For Herpes When Youre Pregnant
In general, herpes testing is not recommended during pregnancy. However, there is an exception for people with symptoms.
If you have symptoms of herpes during pregnancy, your doctor will likely recommend testing. Thats particularly true if you have never had symptoms in the past.
Herpes Doctor Discussion Guide
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What Is Life Like For Someone Who Has Genital Herpes
The virus that causes genital herpes stays inside your body forever. While many people carry this virus, some dont know that they have it because they never have an outbreak.
If you have an outbreak, taking an antiviral medicine can shorten the outbreak and relieve symptoms. Some people have several outbreaks. For most people, the outbreaks become less severe and occur less often with time.
Anyone who has been infected with the virus, however, can spread the virus to others during sex. Even if you never have an outbreak, you can still spread the virus.
Related AAD resources
Centers for Disease Control. Genital Herpes CDC Fact Sheet . Last accessed December 19, 2016.
Fatahzadeh M and Schwartz RA. Human herpes simplex virus infections: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, symptomatology, diagnosis, and management. J Am Acad Dermatol 2007 57:737-63.
Madkan V Sra K, et al. Human herpesviruses. In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. . Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008:1075-6.
Marques AR, Straus SE, Herpes simplex. In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatricks Dermatology in General Medicine . McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008: 1199-1204.
US Preventive Task Force. Serologic screening for genital herpes infection: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2016 316:2525-30.
Is That Spot A Pimple Or A Cold Sore
Acne is the most common skin condition in teens and young adults in the United States, and its increasingly common among women in their thirties, forties, and fifties. It can cause a range of blemishes variously known as blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules , cysts, and nodules, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Acne is sometimes confused with oral herpes because of the way a breakout looks. Although oral herpes sores usually appear as small, clear blisters filled with fluid, in some instances they can look more like the reddened skin and pimples associated with acne. However, herpes is typically associated with more itchiness and pain than acne.
And whereas oral herpes sores are usually found on the mouth, lips, chin, cheeks, or nose, acne can break out on any area of the face as well as on the neck, chest, back, and shoulders.
Acne is caused by excess skin oil, clogged pores, and bacteria not the herpes virus. Hormones, stress, certain medicines, and sometimes diet can trigger or worsen acne outbreaks. While a single pimple may clear up in a few days, a larger acne outbreak may last for weeks to months.
Acne is not contagious, and topical and oral medication can help heal pimples, stop new pimples from forming, and prevent scars. To avoid scarring, dont squeeze or pop pimples.
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Will Ocular Or Eye Herpes Go Away Without Treatment
Due to the fact that ocular or eye herpes is a recurrent condition its important to treat it. It might seem like treatment is not effective because you can still get breakouts but ignoring it can make things worse. Neglecting to treat ocular or eye herpes can significantly increase the risk of breakouts and can lead to vision loss.
Talking To Your Partner
Telling your partner you have genital herpes may be one of the hardest things about living with the disease. Whether youve been together for years, or your relationship is brand new, the conversation will be difficult. Still, it is one you need to have.
To prepare for the discussion, become comfortable with all the pertinent information about herpes. Know how herpes is transmitted and how you can reduce the risk of giving it to your partner.
Whether youve been together for a long time or are just starting a new relationship, recommend that your partner get tested.
Remember that condoms arent 100% protective against herpes. Theres still a chance you will pass the disease to sexual partners.
Suppressive therapy can also reduce the risk of transmission. These medications lower the amount of virus in your body. However, remember that you can transmit the herpes virus when you dont have symptoms.
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Antiviral Creams And Tablets
Antiviral creams such as aciclovir or penciclovir may speed up the healing time of a recurrent cold sore infection if used correctly.
Cold sore creams are widely available over the counter from pharmacies without a prescription.
Theyâre only effective if you apply them as soon as the first signs of a cold sore appear, when the herpes simplex virus is spreading and replicating. Using an antiviral cream after this initial period is unlikely to have much effect.
If you have frequently recurring bouts of cold sores, use antiviral medication as soon as you feel the tingling sensation that indicates a cold sore is about to develop. Youâll need to apply the cream up to five times a day for four to five days.
Antiviral creams can only help to heal a current outbreak of cold sores. They donât get rid of the herpes simplex virus or prevent future outbreaks of cold sores occurring.
Antiviral tablets are generally more effective than creams at treating cold sores, but are usually only prescribed for more severe cases.