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.
Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes- as long as there is no open lesion on chest or breast . If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other skin conditions like a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people do not know they have a herpes infection.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. This is known as having an outbreak. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Flu-like symptoms also may occur during the first outbreak.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they have HSV-2. However, repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although genital herpes is a lifelong infection, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
Ask a healthcare provider to examine you if:
- You notice any symptoms or
- Your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.
STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods .
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How To Tell Your Partner About The Herpes
Most people feel that their love lives are over once they discover they have herpes. Well, that is not the truth. Herpes patients have romantic relationships with one another or with persons without the STI.
Having conversations about STDs is not fun, but it is essential to tell your partner if you are infected. That way, you might prevent the condition from spreading.
Here are practical tips that might help to talk about it:
- Remain calm: Having the STI is a health condition and does not mean you are promiscuous. Therefore, go into the conversation with a positive and relaxed attitude. You can start the conversation by asking your partner if they have even had or been tested before.
- Know the facts: Be sure to read all the facts. It will help you let your sexual partner know there are methods to manage the condition and prevent transmission.
- Timing: Choose a time when you will not be interrupted or distracted and in a private place. If you are anxious, you can first talk through your friend or practice speaking in front of a mirror. It helps you know what you are confident in saying.
- If you think your partner might injure you, you can tell them using a phone call, text message, or email.
Are There Any Risks To The Test
There is no known risk to having a swab test.
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.
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Herpes Myths Vs Facts
Herpes Myth: Only certain sorts of people get herpes.
Fact about herpes: No, it is very common and anyone who has ever had sex can get genital herpes. It’s not about being clean, dirty, good or bad it’s about being normal and sexually active.
Herpes Myth: Herpes isn’t that common, and I am unlikely to get it.
Fact about herpes: Herpes is very common and may be caused by both herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2 . HSV-1 causes “cold sores” on the mouth, and up to 80% of the population has this virus. However, it may also be transmitted to the genitals through oral-genital sex and about 40% of genital herpes is caused by HSV-1. Up to 22% of sexually active adults have genital herpes caused by HSV-2. Most people with herpes will not have symptoms and therefore will not be aware they have it. 75% of people who have genital herpes get it from partners who are entirely unaware that they have it themselves.
Herpes Myth: Herpes “cold sores” on the mouth are not the same as genital herpes.
Fact about herpes: Cold sores on the mouth or face are caused by HSV-1 and are commonly transmitted to the genitals through oral-to-genital sex. Up to 40% of genital herpes is caused by HSV-1.
Herpes Myth: Herpes can only affect the genital area.
Herpes Myth: People always know if they have genital herpes.
Fact about herpes: No, 80% of those with genital herpes do not know they have it, as they may have no or very mild symptoms.
Herpes Myth: People with herpes are always infectious.
What You Need To Know Herpes And Pregnancy
If you have herpes and are expectant, it’s wise to go to prenatal care visits. Tell the physician if you have ever had genital herpes or have ever been exposed to the STD. According to the CDC, the virus can result in a miscarriage or increase your likelihood of early delivery.
The virus can be transmitted to your baby before birth, but it is more common during vaginal delivery. If you are already infected, your doctor might offer you anti-herpes medication at the end of the pregnancy. During delivery, any experienced medical practitioner should examine you for sores, among other symptoms. If you’ve symptoms at childbirth, you will undergo a cesarean section.
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Herpes Testing : What Are Your Options
Medically reviewed by Michele Emery, DNP
Are you worried you might have been exposed to the herpes virus?
First: dont panic. The HSV viruses are a lot more common than you may think, and are very manageable in most cases.
Second: if you think youve been exposed to the herpes virus, testing is going to be your first plan of action.
Take a couple deep breaths and when youre ready, read on.
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Can Herpes Transferred Through Blood
If you are having a herpes or have ever experienced its outbreak sometime in your lifespan, you might ask about your chance of donating blood. In fact, with herpes virus, you are still be able to donate blood. This is because herpes is not present in blood and cannot be transferred through donated blood. Herpes, both genital and labial are passed through direct contact from skin to skin. It is not likely to pass through shared facilities and blood transfusion. Herpes virus of HSV-1 and HSV-2 commonly lie on your labial areasnose, lips, and mouth, and genital area. They cannot be found in your blood, so that you dont need to worry passing on this virus through your donated blood.
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Where Can I Get Tested For Herpes
You can get tested for herpes and other STDs at your doctors office, a community health clinic, the health department, or your local Planned Parenthood health center.
STD testing isnt usually part of your regular checkup or gynecologist exam you have to ask for it. Be honest with your nurse or doctor so they can help you figure out which tests are best for you. Dont be embarrassed: Your doctor is here to help you, not to judge you.
How Is Herpes Transferred
Labial herpes, which is caused by HSV-1 is quite a similar thing. This herpes kind is also called oral herpes, because it mostly happen around mouth and lips, and nose. The symptoms are also similar to the HSV-2-caused herpes. This includes burning, itching, tingling, and fever blisters. Labial herpes is transmitted among persons through direct skin contacts. You may carry your oral herpes virus without also noticing. This will outbreak at the time when you have the triggers. You might have got the virus or transfer it to other people through kissing or touching infected areas. However, when herpes virus leaves living cells, it dies. Hence, people with herpes may share shower, washing machine, and swimming pool with others without worrying of passing on herpes virus.
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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.
What Is Herpes Simplex
Herpes simplex is a virus that causes skin infections. The infection lasts your lifetime, and it causes painful or itchy sores and blisters that come and go. Herpes simplex virus typically doesnt cause severe problems. But it can be dangerous in infants and people with weakened immune systems. There are two types of herpes simplex:
- Herpes simplex 1 tends to affect your mouth or face. It causes cold sores. HSV-1 spreads through contact with saliva .
- Herpes simplex 2 is a sexually transmitted disease . It causes sores on skin that comes in contact with the genitals of an infected person.
Sometimes a herpes infection can affect other parts of your body, such as your eyes or other parts of your skin.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
Prevention Of Genital Herpes
The best protection against STIs is to always use barrier protection such as condoms, female condoms and dams . Because herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact, condoms will reduce the risk of transmission, but it will not protect sexual partners completely as condoms do not cover the entire genitals.
Using lubricant with a condom during sex will also reduce the risk of trauma to the genital skin. This has been shown to reduce HSV transmission, especially in the first six months of a sexual relationship. Silicone-based lubricants are recommended.
Remember that herpes transmission can occur when symptoms are present , but may also occur even if there are no genital symptoms through asymptomatic viral shedding.
For people who have frequent episodes of genital herpes, antiviral medication, taken daily, helps to reduce transmission of herpes to a sexual partner.
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How Test Accuracy Is Measure
The accuracy of all medical tests, including herpes tests, is measured based on two values: sensitivity and specificity.
Sensitivityis how often a test correctly identifies someone with a disease. A test that is 90% sensitive will correctly identify 90 people out of 100 who have the disease. Ten people will have a false-negative result.
Specificity, on the other hand, refers to a test’s ability to correctly identify someone who doesn’t have the disease. If a test is 90% specific, that means that 90 people out of 100 will be correctly diagnosed as not having a disease and that 10 people will have a false-positive result.
The higher the sensitivity and specificity, the lower the chances of a false result.
Staying Safe While Avoiding Panic And Stigma
It can be tempting to freak out a little bit when you realize that herpes is both super-common and something you arent routinely getting tested for. So how do you process that information?
The first step is practicing the same safe sex that you know helps protect you from other STIs. Your best bet here is a barrier method like internal and external condoms for any penetration and physical shields such as dental dams for any oral play. Even though this wont fully protect you from herpes , it will reduce how much of your skin touches your partners.
This is why screening for herpes infection in the absence of any symptoms wouldnt really do much to cut back on casesthe advice would be the same: Practice safe sex with barrier methods. I agree right now with the recommendations not to screen people, but I think if we had a better diagnostic strategy, I would be much more in favor of routine screenings, Dr. Johnston says. It is important for people to know their status so they can protect themselves and their partners.
If you think you have herpes, see a doctor such as your ob/gyn or dermatologist , or go to your local health clinic. A medical expert can evaluate your symptoms, take samples for testing, and eventually offer treatment options if you need them.
You will likely be started on antiviral medications to help you heal faster and make you less contagious, Dr. Bard says.
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How Are Genital Herpes Diagnosed
Other STIs, like syphilis, cause similar symptoms. In addition to a physical exam, your healthcare provider will take a fluid sample from the blisters to test for the herpes virus. If your blisters are healed or you dont have blisters, a blood test can check for HSV-2 antibody, a marker that shows you have been exposed to the virus.
When To Call The Doctor
Even though HSV sores can hurt and be unsightly, most cases of herpes do not cause serious illness. The sores go away in a few days. Contact the health provider if:
- Sores are present and you think it might be a first herpes infection. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the sores. If the sores have not healed, sometimes a laboratory test is done.
- Sores do not heal by themselves or show signs of infection such as pus, spreading redness or fever.
- Sores are near the eyes.
- You have another health condition with a weakened immune system.
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Who Might Get Herpes Simplex
People of any age can contract herpes simplex. You are more likely to get the virus if you:
- Were assigned female at birth.
- Have had multiple sex partners.
- Started having sex at a young age.
- Have a history of any sexually transmitted infection .
- Have a weakened immune system.
- Dont use condoms for intercourse and dental dams for oral sex.
Who gets HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes?
Anyone can get HSV-1. Most people contract HSV-1 during childhood. It spreads when an adult who has the virus has close contact with a child, such as when a family member kisses a child.
Who gets HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes?
Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms or dental dams.
People assigned female at birth are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black people who were AFAB are especially vulnerable, with an estimated 1 in 2 people AFAB between the ages of 14 and 49 infected with HSV-2.
Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
It is important to avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. A first episode during pregnancy can create a greater risk of transmission to a newborn.
Fortunately, it is rare for women with genital herpes to infect their babies. If you know that 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, a C-section may be recommended. Depending on individual diagnosis, though, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorses suppressive therapy to reduce the frequency of C-section.
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Herpes Diagnosis In A Newborn Baby
Diagnosing herpes in children is complicated. Children aren’t 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.