Myth #: A Blood Test Is The Best Way To Know If You Have Herpes
Blood tests are not always accurate and testing for herpes can be tricky. It can take two weeks to six months after being exposed to herpes before it is detected in the blood. To make matters more complicated, if you are low risk for herpes and asymptomatic, it increases your risk of a false positive result. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against routine testing for herpes unless you or your partner have symptoms. The most accurate test is when you are able to take a swab sample from a new herpes lesion, but often times the diagnosis is made by a clinician based on your history and report of symptoms.
Because the blood test can be expensive and inaccurate, it is not typically included in a sexually transmitted disease evaluation unless you ask your provider for it specifically.
In short, if you dont have symptoms, you dont necessarily need a blood test. If you do experience an outbreak, a skin swab not a blood test is your best bet for confirmation.
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Do I Have Herpes And Not Know It
Medically reviewed by Rosanna Sutherby, PharmD on May 15, 2020. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.
It might come as a surprise, but itâs possible to have herpes and not even know it. In fact, many people with herpes donât know they have this sexually transmitted infection because they donât experience any symptoms. This is whatâs known as asymptomatic herpes.
Easily check for STIs with our at-home STD test for men or STD test for women. Your secure, online results can tell you if you have 6 common sexually transmitted infections like chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasisâeven if you arenât experiencing symptoms.
Here, youâll learn more about herpes: what it is exactly, whether you can still spread it even if you have no symptoms, who is at risk, and moreâso keep reading.
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What Treatments Can I Buy At Chemists Shops
Some creams contain anaesthetics which will stop any soreness if a cold sore breaks through. We can send you a list of these anaesthetic creams phone or email A small trial has shown that a lidocaine 5% ointment prevented outbreaks in one in three of the people testing it and shortened the outbreaks that did break through from 5 days to 2 days. No prescription is needed: politely tell the pharmacist to check the list if he/she says otherwise. It says for cold sores on the paper in the lidocaine box!
Antiviral creams containing aciclovir are widely available. If you start using them at the tingle stage, they can shorten the outbreaks by 12 percent .
A newer antiviral cream, Fenestil, contains penciclovir 1% and has a similar benefit.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Most women with genital herpes do not know they have it. But, if you get symptoms with the first outbreak of genital herpes, they can be severe. Genital herpes also can be severe and long-lasting in people whose immune systems do not work properly, such as women with HIV.
The first signs of genital herpes usually show up two to 12 days after having sexual contact with someone who has herpes. Symptoms can last from two to four weeks. There are other early symptoms of genital herpes:
- Feeling of pressure in the abdomen
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever
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What Should I Do If I Have Genital Herpes
If you have genital herpes:
- See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible for testing and treatment.
- Take all of the medicine. Even if symptoms go away, you need to finish all of the antiviral medicine.
- Tell your sex partner so they can be tested and treated if necessary.
- Avoid any sexual contact while you are being treated for genital herpes or while you have an outbreak.
- Remember that genital herpes is a lifelong disease. Even though you may not have a genital herpes outbreak for long periods of time, you can still pass the virus to another person at any time. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to prevent passing the virus to another person.
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Common Shared Items That Spread Herpes Virus
While the herpes virus may be able to live on surfaces for up to a week, contracting the virus via inanimate objects is highly uncommon.
It is most often spread through direct contact with an infected person, such as via kissing or sexual contact.
When someone has a virus, however, it is a good idea to practice good hygiene to prevent unnecessary transmission.
Some common protective actions to take include:
- Not sharing drinks, glasses, or straws
- Not sharing utensils
- Cleaning shared surfaces like doorknobs, faucets, countertops, and remote controls
Understanding Herpes With H Hunter Handsfield Md
Herpes expert H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, explains the basics about genital herpes, including the difference between genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, testing options and the importance of knowing virus type, and the three-prong strategy for prevention. See more herpes videos at sexualhealthTV.com.
Have a question about herpes youd like Dr. Handsfield or our other experts to answer? Visit our Ask the Experts page to learn how.
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How Does Kissing Transmit Hsv
Oral herpes is mainly transmitted by skin-to-skin contact with someone who carries the virus. You can get it from contact with cold sores, saliva, or the surfaces in and around the mouth.
Fun fact: Around 90 percent of American adults are exposed to HSV-1 by the age of 50. Most contract it during childhood, usually from a kiss from a relative or friend.
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Oral herpes, or cold sores, is an extremely common virus. According to survey data from the World Health Organization, about two in every three people under the age of 50 are infected with the most common HSV-1 form of the virus. Herpes spreads from person to person in a variety of ways.
Most of the time, it spreads through kissing and other oral contact. As genital herpes, it can spread through sexual activity, from oral sex to regular sexual intercourse. But there are a lot of rumors about HSB-1 transmission on the internet, one of the most prevalent being that you can catch herpes from sharing a drink.
Like most myths about STDs, this one is part true, part false. While its technically possible for you to catch herpes by sharing a drink, the fact is its highly unlikely for the virus to spread this way.
Myth #: You Can Only Contract Herpes From Someone Who Has Symptoms
Hawkins tells me there’s a phenomenon in herpes called “asymptomatic shedding,” where an infected individual can transmit the virus without having an active outbreak. What makes this even trickier is that some people with herpes never have noticeable symptoms and yet they may still be contagious. “Its actually a really interesting virus, because you can transmit herpes even though you dont have any symptoms or outbreaks,” says Hawkins.
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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.
Herpes May Be More Common Than You Think
The World Health Organization estimates that globally, 3.7 billion people younger than 50 have oral herpes and 417 million people aged 15-49 have genital herpes.
Dr. Maya Benitez says there has always been a stigma surrounding sexually transmitted diseases, especially herpes.
Stigma aside, it’s stressful to be diagnosed with something with no cure and no direct definitive treatment. And anxiety and stress can trigger outbreaks, says Dr. Benitez.
“It is important for people to learn about the disease and understand it, so that if diagnosed, people will know how to live with it,” she says.
“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”
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What Are The Symptoms
Most people never have symptoms, or they are so mild that they do not know they have the virus. Sometimes, symptoms may not appear for months or years. Symptoms vary from person-to-person and many people who do get symptoms may not realize that its caused by HSV.
Herpes infections have three different outbreak types:
- Primary first outbreak
- Non-primary first outbreak
- Recurrent outbreak
A primary outbreak happens when someone first gets herpes symptoms usually beginning 2 to 21 days after contact.
Some people may experience warning signs, called prodrome symptoms such as itching, burning, and tingling of the skin at the site where the blisters or sores may appear, followed by painful herpes sores or tiny blisters. Other symptoms may include pain down either leg or in the buttocks, swollen or tender glands in the groin, fever, painful urination, body aches, feeling tired and unwell. This is more common with a primary outbreak. When the blisters break, painful shallow ulcers appear. These ulcers crust over and usually heal in 7 to 14 days. A primary outbreak is generally worse than future outbreaks.
A non-primary first outbreak is when someone who already has one type of herpes, gets the second type. It is often milder and is unlikely to cause full-body symptoms.
Outbreaks generally happen less over time, the symptoms are milder, and will often go unnoticed. Genital herpes caused by HSV-1 generally does not recur frequently.
Get Help From An Online Doctor
An online doctor can be a great resource for those who have already received a herpes diagnosis. When herpes comes back in an outbreak, you can meet with a doctor using DrHouse in just 15 minutes, and your doctor can prescribe antiviral treatment to help with your outbreak. Additionally, your online doctor can discuss long-term antiviral treatment to help protect yourself and your partner.
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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.
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Can Herpes Be Spread By A Water Fountain Or A Toilet Seat
Most adults are aware that public drinking fountains harbor germs. This is simply because people do not wash their hands before touching the water fountain push button or bar.
Toilet seats also harbor germs, both in public restrooms and at home. If a person has genital herpes and uses a public restroom, it is considered common courtesy to wipe the toilet seat with a baby wipe or moist toilette after use.
Good hand washing technique after using the toilet with an antibacterial soap should be enough to kill germs, including the herpes simplex virus.
The Mayo Clinic states that as long as people do not touch the splash guard on drinking water fountains, they are at little risk for any disease transmission. It is nearly impossible for the herpes simplex virus to be transferred via a toilet seat.
Herpes simplex virus- 1 , is spread primarily by kissing. It is also spread by touching the infected sores or sharing drinking glasses, lipstick, cigarettes, and other personal items.
Herpes simplex virus- 1 can be spread to the genitals during oral sex, as well.
Herpes simplex virus- 2 , is a sexually- transmitted disease. Genital herpes is spread by sexual activity with an infected partner. The virus can be spread between outbreaks, and even by a partner who does not know he or she has the disease.
Safe sex, using a condom, must be practiced at all times.
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Herpes Is A Common Infection
Herpes is a super-common infection that stays in your body for life. More than half of Americans have oral herpes, and about 1 out of 6 Americans has genital herpes. So chances are a few people you know are living with herpes.
Theres no cure for herpes, but medication can ease your symptoms and lower your chances of giving the virus to other people. And the good news is, outbreaks usually become less frequent over time, and even though herpes can sometimes be uncomfortable and painful, its not dangerous. People with herpes have relationships, have sex, and live perfectly healthy lives.
Can I Catch Herpes Simplex Off Towels Cups Or Anything
No, you will not catch it off anything. The virus is caught from the skin, not from objects. It is a delicate virus and dies quickly when away from the skin where the sore is. There is more about transmission in our Transmission leaflet available to members. This statement is taken from the guidelines for doctors produced by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.
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How Is Oral Herpes Treated Is It Curable
Sadly, oral herpes isnt curable.
The good news is that you may not even know you have it. Those of us who do develop cold sores from time to time can treat them with over-the-counter antiviral ointments or prescription medications.
You can alleviate painful cold sores with ibuprofen or other mild pain killers and theyll typically heal within 10 to 14 days, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Another popular way to heal and prevent cold sores is by taking supplements made with the essential amino acid L-lysine. L-lysine affects the activity of another essential amino acid that promotes the growth of HSV, arginine. Studies have shown that it can be effective, though theres currently no standard for it as a treatment for oral herpes.
If you really want to test that lipstick but the store doesnt offer individual samples, you can try testing it on the underside of your forearm, which can be a good indication of whether a color will work with your skin tone. Just make sure to grab a wet wipe or hand santizer afterwards to get rid of it before you touch your face.
Your best bet, though? Dont trust random samples in cosmetics stores if youre not sure who else has touched them. Smith has a better idea, add to the HuffPost that she doesnt share anything with anyone who I am not already sharing kisses with.
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How Is Human Papillomavirus Diagnosed
Genital warts caused by human papillomavirus can be diagnosed with a physical examination, however, there is no specific test to determine a persons HPV status.
If genital warts are suspected but the diagnosis is uncertain, a biopsy of the lesion may be taken to confirm diagnosis.
There are HPV tests called Pap tests used for cervical cancer screening in women aged 30 years and older but these tests are not recommended for screening men, adolescents, or women under the age of 30 years.
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Myth #: If Someone Has Herpes They’re Probably Promiscuous
“One of my ‘favorite’ myths is that only promiscuous or ‘slutty’ people get herpesI just want to shout from the rooftops that this is absolutely not the case,” says Hawkins. “Herpes is something thats super easily transmitted.” This is especially true of type 1 oral herpes, as you may have contracted it from, say, your grandmother as a kid. If this is the case, 15 years later you could perform oral sex on your partner and accidentally transmit your type 1 to his or her genitalsit’s that easy.
For this and all the reasons outlined abovethe fact that it’s difficult to test for, most people don’t know they have it, it can be contracted non-sexually, etcyou can catch genital herpes from your first love, your long-term partner, someone who has been STD tested and shows you a clean bill of health, etc. Your number of sexual partners and your sexual proclivities are irrelevant.
Are You Less Contagious If You Have Asymptomatic Herpes
Some people believe you canât spread asymptomatic genital herpes this, however, is a myth. You can still spread the virus to others even if you have an asymptomatic infectionâor if you arenât currently showing symptoms because the virus is dormant.
Fortunately, whether or not a herpes infection causes symptoms, the risk of transmitting the virus can be significantly reduced by using condoms during sexual intercourse.
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What Is Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1
HSV-1 is the Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and is responsible for cold sores, also known as fever blisters. Children with an initial infection with HSV-1 may exhibit blisters on the lips/mouth, inside the mouth and on gums. Other symptoms include fever, irritability, sore throat, an inability to eat or drink, and increased drooling in infants. However, some initial infections are unnoticeably mild. Regardless of the severity of the initial infection, painful blisters can recur throughout a childâs life.