Treatment For Genital Herpes
Three drugs are approved to treat genital herpes:
These medications are antiviral drugs called nucleoside analogues. The drugs are used initially to treat a first attack of herpes, and then afterward to either treat recurrent outbreaks or reduce frequency of recurrences .
No drug can cure herpes simplex virus. The infection may recur after treatment has been stopped. Even during therapy, an infected person can still transmit the virus to another person. Drugs can, however, reduce the severity of symptoms, improve healing times, and prevent recurrences.
Antiviral drugs for genital herpes are generally given as pills that are taken by mouth. If people experience very severe disease or complications, they need to be hospitalized and receive an antiviral drug intravenously. Acyclovir is also available as an ointment, which can be used as an adjunct for treatment of initial genital herpes.
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.
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.
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Do Herpes Pop Like Pimples
When an outbreak of genital herpes does occur, it usually presents as a patch of small red or white bumps or red ulcers. These lesions are often painful. Genital herpes may also appear on the buttocks or mouth in some cases. The pus-filled blisters will eventually burst, leaving an ulcer-like sore on the skin.
Stages Of Oral Herpes
There are three main stages of oral herpes:
- Primary infection: This stage consists of the initial contraction of the virus.
- Latency: When the infection enters the latency phase, it is dormant and symptoms are absent.
- Recurrence: Following the primary infection and periods of latency, outbreaks can recur.
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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.
Hsv1 And Oral Transmission
The other commonly transmitted strain of the herpes simplex virus, HSV1, typically results in oral herpes, or cold sores around the mouth. This form of HSV is more readily transmitted via oral contact, such as kissing, than through genital contact.
Unlike HSV2, which usually lies dormant between outbreaks at the base of the spine, HSV1s latency periods are typically spent in nerve endings near the ear. Thats why its more likely to cause oral herpes than genital herpes.
HSV1 and HSV2 are genetically similar to each other and clinical symptoms are indistinguishable.
For this reason, having one form of the virus sometimes reduces the risk of acquiring the other form. This is because your body actively produces antibodies to fight the virus once you have it. However, its possible to contract both forms.
HSV1 and HSV2 can both have no symptoms or very mild symptoms that you might not notice. Not having symptoms doesnt mean you dont have the virus.
If you do have symptoms of HSV1 or HSV2, they may include:
- a tingling sensation, itching, or pain, anywhere in the genital area or around the mouth
- one or more small, white blisters that may become oozy or bloody
- one or more small, red bumps or irritated-looking skin
Its important to see a doctor if you suspect you have acquired HSV1 or HSV2. Theres no cure for herpes, but antiviral medications can help reduce the number and severity of your outbreaks.
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Genital Herpes: Frequently Asked Questions
What is genital herpes?
How common is genital herpes?
World Health Organization estimates that in 2012, 19.2 million new cases of HSV-2 infection happened among adults and youth aged 1549 years worldwide, with around 417 million cases already existing. The highest number of cases are found in WHO African Region and the WHO Region of the Americas. The reason the number of existing cases is so high is because there is no cure for herpes. In the region of the Americas there were around 2.2 million new cases of HSV-2 infections among females and 1.3 million among men in 2012, adding to the already around 45.2 million existing cases for females and 25.1 million existing cases for males.
How is genital herpes spread?
How is genital herpes prevented?
Currently there is no cure or vaccines for herpes. Condoms help reduce the chances of infection but do not eliminate it completely, because outbreaks of genital herpes can occur in areas not covered by a condom. Condom use is still advisable as they can prevent other sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.
What are the symptoms of genital herpes?
What are the problems of genital herpes?
Repeated symptoms of genital herpes may be painful, and the infection can lead to social stigma and emotional distress. These factors can have an important impact on quality of life and sexual relationships. However, with time, most people with herpes adjust to living with the infection.
How is genital herpes diagnosed?
Can You Get Oral Herpes From Genital Herpes
Yes! The same goes for vice versa. We can not stress how easy it actually is to get either strain of herpes in either location, even if youre using protection.
- If your partner has HSV-2 and it is located genitally, and you give them oral pleasure, you can recieve HSV-2 that is located orally.
- If your partner has HSV-1 and it is located genitally, and you give them oral pleasure, you can recieve HSV-1 that is located orally.
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Is There Anything I Can Do To Relieve The Symptoms Myself
In some women, genital herpes blisters cause pain when urinating . Many of them find it soothing to pee while sitting in warm, shallow water . You can do this using special tubs that fit into toilet bowls. They are available at a reasonable price, for instance from pharmacies or on the internet. Itâs best not to use soaps or bath additives because they can irritate the affected area even more. Other things you can do to avoid irritating it further include wearing loose-fitting clothes and underwear made out of fabrics that have a smooth surface.
Painkillers such as ibuprofen are an option if the blisters become very painful.
Topical antiviral treatments such as creams or ointments donât provide any relief, but they can increase the risk of viral resistance. Experts advise against using topical treatments for genital herpes.
How Do People Get Genital Herpes
Infections are transmitted through contact with HSV in herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. 5 HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be shed from normal-appearing oral or genital mucosa or skin. 7,8 Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However, receiving oral sex from a person with an oral HSV-1 infection can result in getting a genital HSV-1 infection. 4 Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected. 7 In persons with asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, genital HSV shedding occurs on 10.2% of days, compared to 20.1% of days among those with symptomatic infections. 8
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Fever Blisters And Cold Sores Are Oral Herpes Too
Fever blisters and cold sores are just different names for oral herpes, and theyve been around for a very long time. Legend has it that in ancient Rome, the emperor Tiberius banned kissing at public events because of an outbreak of fever blisters. In other words, they even knew back then how contagious fever blisters are.
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid contact with a person who has a cold sore and refrain from sharing eating utensils, lip balm, and the like. Note that someone with oral herpes can give you genital herpes if they perform oral sex on you. Avoid kissing and oral sex when outbreaks are present.
There is no cure for fever blisters and no vaccine to prevent them, although research into preventing and treating them is ongoing. If you do get oral herpes, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medication and topical anesthetics to relieve symptoms. Some people also choose to take antiviral medication to make cold sores go away faster.
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.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex
You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.
If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:
- Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
- Touching the skin near their mouth.
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms during intercourse and 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. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.
Oral Herpes And Cold Sores
Cold sores are a symptom of oral herpes .
Cold sores are blister-like sores that occur near the mouth or lips. They can also occur on other areas of the face. They typically persist for 2 weeks or more. Because theres no cure for herpes, cold sores can come back.
Genital herpes is quite common.
Although genital herpes is typically caused by HSV-2, the infection can also be caused by HSV-1.
According to the WHOs latest available statistics, it was estimated that 491.5 million people had an HSV-2 infection in 2016. This is over one-tenth of the worlds population ages 15 to 49 years.
The WHO also estimates that 3.7 billion people had an HSV-1 infection in the same year, which accounts for around two-thirds of the worlds population under age 50 years.
CDC does not recommend getting tested for herpes.
However, if there are symptoms of genital herpes, its important to see a doctor. They can make a diagnosis and discuss management strategies for the infection.
Additionally, if theres a potential of having been exposed to HSV, or if theres a desire to get a full STI exam and testing, its recommended to schedule an appointment with a doctor.
If an in-person appointment is not possible, an at-home test kit is another option to consider. However, its important to note that an in-person test done by a doctor may be more accurate.
Treatment can reduce outbreaks, but it cannot cure herpes simplex viruses.
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Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
Are Antiviral Medications Safe
Antiviral medications are considered to be very safe. They are nearly always well tolerated because the active ingredients only have an effect in cells that have been infected by the virus.
People who have kidney failure may need to take a lower dose because the medication is removed from the body through the kidneys.
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What You Need To Know
- Herpes simplex virus , also known as genital herpes, is most likely to be spread when an infected person is having an outbreak, but it can also be transmitted without any symptoms being present.
- Medications can help reduce your symptoms, speed up the healing of an outbreak and make you less contagious.
- If you know 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, cesarean section may be recommended.
Do I Have To Tell Someone I Have Herpes
Is it Illegal to not tell someone you have Herpes? No, it is not illegal to not tell someone you have herpes. However, if you are in an intimate relationship with someone, it is best to let your partner know that you have an STD. This will allow you both to take precautions to minimize the spread of the STD.
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Can Oral Herpes Be Spread To Genitals
ByAnna C.|April 1, 2013, noon
Pictured above: A herpes simplex lesion on the lower lip on the second day after onset. Image: CDC Public Health Image Library ID# 5434
Herpes simplex virus is mystifying, fascinating, and sneaky. Mystifying because we have yet to unravel all of its secrets fascinating because when we do uncover one of its mysteries, we are amazed by the capabilities of such a tiny, microscopic object and sneaky because it enters our bodies by stealth and conceals itself in our cells, taking us by surprise when it comes out of hiding and causes outbreaks of blisters and other lesions.
It can also be confusing. Herpes simplex virus actually comes in two flavors: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is associated more with oral herpes, which can cause cold sores, a type of blister that appears on the lips or face. HSV-2 is associated more with genital herpes, which can cause blisters and other lesions in the genital area. It used to be standard to describe HSV-1 as an above-the-waist infection and HSV-2 as a below-the-belt infection but now many researchers are pointing out that its more appropriate to say that HSV-1 is both an orally and genitally transmitted infection while HSV-2 is a predominantly genitally transmitted infection. If HSV-1 enters the body in the genital area, it can cause a genital herpes infection and likewise, if HSV-2 enters the body in the facial area, it can cause an oral herpes infection.
Genital Warts Vs Herpes
Human papillomavirus â the virus which causes genital warts â and herpes, are both common STIs.
HPV is more common than herpes, and it is understood that nearly all sexually active people will have HPV at some point in their life. Both viruses have the potential to cause genital lesions, and they can also both present without any symptoms. For this reason, it can be hard for some people to tell which one they have.
While genital warts and herpes can both be passed on via sex, the sores have different causes, and different treatments. In general, the symptoms of herpes are more painful. Using condoms can significantly reduce your risk of both genital warts and herpes.
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