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 Genital Herpes Diagnosed
Often, your doctor can diagnose genital herpes by looking at visible sores. Your doctor or nurse may also use a cotton swab to take a fluid sample from a sore to test in a lab.
Genital herpes can be hard to diagnose, especially between outbreaks. Blood tests that look for antibodies to the herpes virus can help diagnose herpes in women without symptoms or between outbreaks.
A Pap test is not used to detect genital herpes.
Herpes Simplex Virus 1
Herpes Simplex Virus 1 is a strain of the herpes simplex virus. People may believe that HSV-1 is the same thing as oral herpes, and that it always causes cold sores to appear on the mouth or facial region, but thats not always true. HSV-1 can be acquired in the genital region, creating genital HSV-1.
Similarly, HSV-2 is popularly known as genital herpes, but HSV-2 can be acquired in the facial region creating oral HSV-2. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are nearly identical they share 50% of their DNA and produce almost indistinguishable symptoms. This is why its important to get tested for both strains of the disease.
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How To Get Rid Of Herpes Naturally
Not every person with a herpes infection actually experiences breakouts of cold sores throughout his or her lifetime or even after initially becoming infected. How often someone has a herpes cold sore outbreak, how severe the outbreaks are, how contagious someone is after infection and how long the sores take to heal all depend on someones individual immune response.
1. Boost Nutrient Intake
If youre going to keep the herpes virus from frequently causing outbreaks, the first step in how to get rid of herpes is to improve immune function by boosting nutrient intake. Include these healing foods in your diet to keep the virus dormant as much as possible:
2. Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Certain foods can raise inflammation, weaken immune defenses and make skin irritation even worse. Avoid the following foods as much as possible to limit outbreak severity and duration.
3. Consider Supplements
- Antiviral herbs: These include elderberry, calendula, echinacea, garlic, astragalus and licorice root.
- L-lysine : Can help treat and prevent outbreaks.
- Lemon balm extract: Apply as a topical cream for healing.
- Vitamin C : Vitamin C boosts immune function improving herpes.
- Zinc : Zinc benefits include supporting immune function, keeping viruses dormant and rebuilding skin tissue to speed up healing.
- B-complex : B vitamins help your body deal with stress and can prevent outbreaks.
4. Try Essential Oils
5. Ease Cold Sore Pain Naturally
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Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes
Both kinds of herpes cause outbreaks of painful sores on the skin. Symptoms of herpes include:
Oral herpes sores
Sometimes called cold sores, HSV-1 produces painful sores that look like blisters at first. They eventually burst and crust over. It usually takes a week to 10 days for the sores to clear up.
Genital herpes sores
The sores that appear in the genital area can come from HSV-1 or HSV-2. Like the sores on the mouth, they start as painful blisters, then dry up and heal over time.
Although they usually show up around the mouth or genitals, herpes sores can appear anywhere on the body.
During a herpes outbreak, you might feel other symptoms such as fever, tiredness, or body aches.
Not all people who have herpes have frequent outbreaks. Some people might have a single outbreak then never show symptoms again. The virus may stay dormant in their body.
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What Is The Herpes Simplex Virus
The herpes simplex virus has two types. HSV-1 is typically associated with oral herpes, also known as cold sores, while HSV-2 typically causes genital herpes. However, either can pass on herpes symptoms to other parts of the body and other people. If youve got a cold sore or feverblister, then youve got herpes simplex.
Herpes simplex is a contagious virus. Oral herpes affects around half of Americans, and genital herpes affects around one in six Americans. While annoying and painful, herpes simplex typically doesnt lead to serious health problems.
How Herpes Is Treated
There is no cure for herpes.
- The health care provider may prescribe antiviral medicine to help speed up the healing process. It also shortens the time when the virus can spread from the herpes sores.
- Pain may be treated with medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin or by applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected area.
- If sores are in the mouth, avoid foods high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices.
- The infected area should be kept clean and dry.
- Wash hands often and avoid touching the sores to prevent spreading the virus.
- It is important to stay healthy by getting enough rest, having proper nutrition and exercise and managing stress well.
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Treatment Options For Genital Herpes
Acyclovir was the first antiviral agent to be used in the treatment of genital herpes, and as such, is the most extensively studied of the antiviral agents currently available. This drug is available in topical, oral, and intravenous forms . In the distant past, topical acyclovir was used to treat recurrent genital herpes, but its ineffectiveness has been known for quite some time. A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study found that after application of topical acyclovir 6 times daily for 5 days, only the duration of virus shedding from lesions was reduced compared to placebo. Differences between time to lesion crusting, lesion healing, new lesion formation, and cessation of pain were non-significant .
Intravenous acyclovir remains the most effective form of treatment for a primary genital herpes infection, leading to significant reduction in time to cessation of viral shedding and pain. Time to lesion healing is also 6 days faster than with placebo alone . However, as IV administration of acyclovir requires hospitalization, this route is reserved for patients with life-threatening disease or systemic complications .
Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body
The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.
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How Can You Get Hsv
All strains of the herpes virus are extremely contagious and can be spread through saliva, sores, and skin-to-skin contact where the outbreaks occur. The herpes virus sheds, releasing traces of the virus periodically, even without visible symptoms. This means that its able to be contracted even when sores are not present. However, the virus is most contagious when sores are present.
Symptoms Of Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is most often caused by HSV-1, but can also be caused by HSV-2. It usually affects the lips and, in some primary attacks, the mucous membranes in the mouth. A herpes infection may occur on the cheeks or in the nose, but facial herpes is very uncommon.
Primary Oral Herpes Infection
If the primary oral infection causes symptoms, they can be very painful, particularly in children. Symptoms include:
- Tingling, burning, or itching around the mouth are the first signs.
- Red, fluid-filled blisters that may form on the lips, gums, mouth, and throat.
- Blisters that break open and leak. As they heal, they turn yellow and crusty, eventually turning into pink skin. The sores last 10 to 14 days and can be very uncomfortable.
- Blisters that may be preceded or accompanied by sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and painful swallowing.
Recurrent Oral Herpes Infection
A recurrent oral herpes infection is much milder than the primary outbreak. It usually manifests as a single sore, commonly called a cold sore or fever blister . The sore usually shows up on the outer edge of the lips and rarely affects the gums or throat.
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Can I Treat Herpes Simplex At Home
Avoiding known triggers, such as illness or stress, can help reduce how often you have herpes outbreaks.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-1 ?
- Over-the-counter creams such as L-lysine, benzocaine or docosanol .
- Applying ice to blisters or sores.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-2 ?
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep your genitals dry. Wear cotton or other nonsynthetic underpants and avoid tight-fitting clothes. Moist sores take longer to heal.
- Soak in a warm bath.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain.
- Topical 1% or 2% lidocaine may be used as a topical analgesic.
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.
Treatment and follow-up guidance for the genital herpes.
Note: This guide provides minimal information about neonatal herpes. For more information, refer to the Canadian Paediatric Society Position Statement about the prevention and management of neonatal herpes simplex virus infections.
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Can Genital Herpes Cause Other Problems
For most women, genital herpes does not usually cause serious health problems.
Women with HIV can have severe herpes outbreaks that are long-lasting. Herpes also may play a role in the spread of HIV. Herpes sores can make it easier for HIV to get into your body. Also, herpes can make people who are HIV-positive more likely to spread the infection to someone else.
Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex
Some people can carry herpes and not exhibit symptoms. However, herpes can still be contagious even if you never have an outbreak.
Herpes outbreaks typically involve the following symptoms:
- Itching, burning, or tingling in the affected area
- Blisters on the skin
- Sores in the place of the blisters that crust over and heal
Alongside the cold sores , flu-like symptoms can manifest, such as fevers, aches, and swollen glands.
Herpes sores can reappear due to stress, irritated skin, poor diet, exhaustion, or a weakened immune system. Other times, they may appear randomly. But after cold sores fade, the virus stays behind, ready to activate again.
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How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Herpes Simplex
During an outbreak, a dermatologist often can diagnose herpes simplex by looking at the sores. To confirm that a patient has herpes simplex, a dermatologist may take a swab from a sore and send this swab to a laboratory.
When sores are not present, other medical tests, such as blood tests, can find the herpes simplex virus.
What Are The Different Types Of Herpes
There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV I and HSV II. HSV I commonly causes oral herpes, or cold sores. This virus can show up as an upper respiratory tract infection during early childhood. HSV II is the cause of most cases of genital herpes. However, it is possible for HSV I to cause genital herpes and HSV II to cause oral herpes.
Clinicians cannot tell the difference between the two types by physical examination alone, but there are differences between the two viruses. For example, genital herpes caused by HSV II is much more likely to recur. This diagnosis can be helpful in establishing a health care plan.
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Treatment Of An Initial Outbreak
The first outbreak of genital herpes is usually much worse than recurrent outbreaks. Symptoms tend to be more severe and to last longer. Your provider will prescribe one of the three antiviral medications, which you will take for 7 to 10 days. If your symptoms persist, treatment may be extended. An acyclovir ointment may also be prescribed for topical treatment of initial genital herpes.
How Do You Get Herpes
Oral herpes can be spread through saliva, kissing, and skin-to-skin contact. HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes, if the genital areas are exposed to fever blisters or sores on the mouth or face, or through oral sex. Even though HSV-1 also never completely goes away, that strain of the virus causes fewer outbreaks over time in the genital areas than HSV-2.
Genital herpes can be transmitted through skin-to-skin contact and/or sexual intercourse of all types . Most people dont realize that sores from genital herpes can appear on the face as well as the genital area. Because the virus can spread any time contact occurs with a blister or sore, a condom doesnt always provide sufficient protection.
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What Happens If You Dont Get Herpes Treatment
The good news about herpes is that its not deadly or even very dangerous. It might be annoying, but herpes doesnt get worse over time or cause serious health problems like other STDs can.
If you dont get treated for herpes, you might keep having regular outbreaks, or they could only happen rarely. Some people naturally stop getting outbreaks after a while.
There are a few reasons people may decide not to get treatment. They might not have that many outbreaks, or their outbreaks dont really bother them. Or maybe theyre not having sex, so theyre not that worried about having herpes right now. Whatever your situation is, getting treatment for herpes is your choice.
Having herpes can make it easier to get HIV, because the sores give HIV an open pathway into your body. So always use condomsto help prevent the spread of both herpes and 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.
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How Is Genital Herpes Treated
Herpes has no cure. But antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks during the time you take the medicine. Also, daily suppressive therapy for herpes can lower your chance of spreading the infection to your partner.
Your doctor will either give you antiviral medicine to take right after getting outbreak symptoms or to take regularly to try to stop outbreaks from happening. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.
During outbreaks, you can take the following steps to speed healing and prevent spreading herpes to other parts of your body or to other people:
- Keep sores clean and dry.
- Try not to touch the sores.
- Wash your hands after any contact with the sores.
- Avoid all sexual contact from the time you first notice symptoms until the sores have healed.
Herpes And Newborn Infants
Herpes infection in a newborn can cause a range of symptoms, including skin rash, fevers, mouth sores, and eye infections. If left untreated, neonatal herpes is a very serious and even life-threatening condition. Neonatal herpes can spread to the brain and central nervous system, causing encephalitis and meningitis. It also can lead to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and death. Herpes can also spread to internal organs, such as the liver and lungs.
Infants infected with herpes are treated with acyclovir, an antiviral drug. They usually receive several weeks of intravenous acyclovir treatment, often followed by several months of oral acyclovir. It is important to treat babies quickly, before the infection spreads to the brain and other organs.
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How Can I Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
If you have lots of herpes outbreaks, your doctor may tell you to take medicine every day this is called suppressive therapy. It can help prevent future herpes outbreaks, and lower your chances of giving herpes to your partners.
Whether or not you take medicine to treat herpes, taking care of yourself by eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress might help keep future outbreaks from popping up.
No one knows for sure what triggers genital herpes outbreaks. Other infections, surgery, sex, your period, skin irritations, and stress may cause outbreaks. Sunburns, injuries to your lips, or other infections can cause oral herpes flare-ups. Try to avoid getting sunburned if you have oral herpes.
Genital herpes outbreaks usually happen less often and become shorter and weaker after a few years whether or not you get treated.
Why Creating A Cure Is Difficult
Herpes is challenging to cure because of the nature of the virus. The HSV infection can hide away in a persons nerve cells for months or years before reappearing and reactivating the infection.
Experts suggest that even if antiviral drugs destroy the active parts of the infection, it only takes a small amount of the virus to hide in the nerve cells and become dormant for the herpes virus to continue.
To find a treatment, scientists need to understand further the mechanism that enables the infection to hide. By preventing this mechanism, they might be able to tackle the whole infection before parts go dormant.
Some medications may reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms and lower the chances of passing the infection on to others. Current antiviral medications to treat herpes include the following medications:
first form of treatment for HSV infections. A doctor may treat a skin or mucous membrane infection with oral acyclovir, provided the person has a competent immune system.
People with high levels of stress or trauma may experience more frequent recurrences of genital herpes. In this case, a doctor may advise psychotherapy and counseling.
Some home remedies, such as petroleum gel or essential oils, may alleviate the discomfort that herpes lesions cause.
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