Precautions About Sharing Kitchenware
Youre unlikely to get herpes from sharing a drink, a straw, or a glass.
But youll want to avoid sharing objects with someone who may have another infection, such as a cold, the flu, or strep throat.
Heres how you can help protect yourself from getting an infection:
- Ask for a clean glass if you get a dirty glass at a restaurant, cafeteria, or anywhere where dishware is shared, such as at your workplace.
- Clean any surface you plan to use before preparing food in case bacteria or viruses are present.
- Dont mix chopping boards by chopping or preparing raw meat on the same board as vegetables or other foods that dont need to be cooked.
- Wash your hands immediately after handling raw meat before you touch any other surfaces or foods, especially if youre sick.
- Thoroughly clean any surface you used to prepare raw meat or other food that might be carrying bacteria or viruses.
What Are The Types Of Herpes Viruses
Herpes is a group of contagious viruses. All of these viruses cause blisters and sores. Some of the more common herpes viruses include:
- Type 1: HSV-1, or oral herpes, causes cold sores to form on lips, gums, tongue and inside the mouth. It can cause genital herpes in some cases This type usually spreads through saliva when you kiss someone with open herpes sores. You can also get HSV-1 by sharing items like toothbrushes, lipsticks or eating utensils.
- Type 2: HSV-2 causes genital herpes.
- Herpes zoster: This virus causes chickenpox and shingles.
Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes
The symptoms of herpes generally occur in two wavesan initial outbreak, which occurs after the virus incubates in the body, and subsequent outbreaks.
Initial herpes or cold sore outbreaks typically involve an itching and burning around the genitals , or around the mouth . Within a day or so, blisters can form in the affected area and develop into open, fluid-filled sores.
During an initial herpes outbreak, its common to experience headaches, muscle pains, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms. Many people also experience pain while urinating.
Recurring herpes outbreaks are similar, but are usually less severe than the initial outbreak. In people with HSV-2, outbreaks can occur up to five times a year, requiring two to three weeks to pass. People with HSV-1 typically experience one to two outbreaks per year, but that frequently varies drastically person to person.
Our guide to stopping a cold sore in the early stages goes into more detail about the typical symptoms of a herpes outbreak, as well as the triggers that can cause an outbreak to develop.
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How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
HSV nucleic acid amplification tests are the most sensitive and highly specific tests available for diagnosing herpes. However, in some settings viral culture is the only test available. The sensitivity of viral culture can be low, especially among people who have recurrent or healing lesions. Because viral shedding is intermittent, it is possible for someone to have a genital herpes infection even though it was not detected by NAAT or culture. 11
Type-specific virologic tests can be used for diagnosing genital herpes when a person has recurrent symptoms or lesion without a confirmatory NAAT, culture result, or has a partner with genital herpes. Both virologic tests and type-specific serologic tests should be available in clinical settings serving patients with, or at risk for, sexually transmitted infections. 11
Given performance limitations with commercially available type-specific serologic tests , a confirmatory test with a second method should be performed before test interpretation. If confirmatory tests are unavailable, patients should be counseled about the limitations of available testing before serologic testing. Healthcare providers should also be aware that false-positive results occur. In instances of suspected recent acquisition, serologic testing within 12 weeks after acquisition may be associated with false negative test results. 11
Providers are strongly encouraged to look at CDCs STI Treatment Guidelines for further diagnostic considerations.
Can You Have Herpes And Not Know It
Yes, it is possible to have herpes and not know it.
Some people may have an asymptomatic infection, which means they do not experience any symptoms. Others have symptoms that are mild, go unnoticed, or mistaken for another skin issue. Because of this, theyâre less likely to seek out a diagnosis to confirm herpes.
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Chances Of Passing Herpes During Outbreak Unprotected Sex
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Herpes is one of the most common viral infections, with more than half of all people under 50 years of age infected with the HSV-1 type of herpes and an estimated 11% of people infected with the HSV-2 type of the virus, according to WHO data. One of the most common herpes-related questions is whether or not its possible to be infected with the herpes virus without ever experiencing any symptoms. Unfortunately, thatâs a thing, and itâs called asymptomatic herpes. In fact, itâs a major thing.
While most people associate herpes with cold sores on the lips and mouth or herpes lesions on the genitals, the reality is that most people infected with the herpes simplex virus wont get any symptoms.
This means that not only is it possible to have herpes without symptoms, but itâs actually very common. Below, well explain how often herpes results in asymptomatic infections , how asymptomatic viral shedding occurs, and the best options for testing whether or not you have herpes.
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 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.
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, its 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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Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes
There is no cure for herpes. Antiviral medications can, however, prevent or shorten outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication.11 In addition, daily suppressive therapy for herpes can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners.11
There is currently no commercially available vaccine that is protective against genital herpes infection. Candidate vaccines are in clinical trials.
Can I Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes, you can breastfeed if you have genital herpes, but not if you have a herpes sore on one of your breasts. If you have genital herpes, it is possible to spread the infection to any part of your breast, including your nipple and areola.
If you have any genital herpes sores on one or both of your breasts:
- You can keep breastfeeding as long as your baby or pumping equipment does not touch a herpes sore.
- Do not breastfeed from the breast with sores. Herpes is spread through contact with sores and can be dangerous to a newborn baby.
- Pump or hand-express your milk from the breast with sores until the sores heal. Pumping will help keep up your milk supply and prevent your breast from getting overly full and painful. You can store your milk to give to your baby in a bottle for another feeding. But if parts of your pump also touch the sore while pumping, throw the milk away.
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Why You Should Go To A Sexual Health Clinic
You can see a GP, but theyll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you might have genital herpes.
Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.
Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.
Theyll often get test results quicker than GP practices and you do not have to pay a prescription fee for treatment.
Testing For Genital Herpes
If you think you may have genital herpes you should make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.
If there are symptoms present such as blisters, sores and ulcers, your doctor or nurse may be able to make a diagnosis straight away.
If you have visible blisters, your doctor or nurse may take a swab for testing, to check if this is herpes and what type. This swab can also test for another STI which causes blisters called syphilis.
The genital herpes swab tests are very reliable, though if the ulcer is too dry then it may be less likely to find a positive result.
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Is Genital Herpes Infection Related To Hiv
Herpes and HIV are caused by different viruses. But patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more vulnerable to HIV infection. People newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
Patients who are infected with both herpes and HIV also may have a higher concentration of HIV viruses in their body because of the interaction between the herpes virus and the HIV virus. When HIV damages a persons immune system, the person may be more likely to shed herpes simplex virus asymptomatically.
How Can You Catch Herpes
Like most sexual transmitted infections , herpes is passed on when someone with an active outbreak of the virus has sexual intercourse with a partner. It may also be spread by contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, including blood, saliva, vaginal fluid, semen or any fluid expelled from a weeping herpes blister.
The virus is passed onto the other person through tiny breaks in the mucous membranes or skin. Because viruses are very small, herpes can easily spread even if the breaks are only microscopic. This means you cannot conduct a visual inspection of a partner and guarantee that they will not catch the disease.
It is also worth noting that while the virus is generally passed on during the phase when the blisters are visible on the skin, there is also the possibility of infection spreading even when blisters are not showing.
This is due to something called asymptomatic shedding. This is where the virus continues to shed into bodily fluids even when dormant. This kind of shedding is most common during the first 12 months of herpes infections. However, it may continue throughout the life of the infection and you cannot guarantee that because you have no visible sores that your partner will not be infected.
In a monogamous relationship, a female partner carries a substantially higher risk of contracting herpes from an infected male partner than vice-versa.
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How Can I Lower My Chance Of Passing Or Getting Herpes
Condoms offer good protection, but do not completely prevent the spread of herpes because they do not cover the whole genital area. Condoms can also be used on sex toys. Abstain from sex or avoid skin-to-skin contact in the area of the herpes sores if you are sexual during an outbreak. Dental dams can also be used as a barrier during oral sex. Talk to your health care provider about suppressive therapy to help prevent passing the virus to your partner. Wash your hands if you have touched the blisters to prevent transferring the virus to another person . Talk to your partner about herpes before you have sexual contact.
How To Treat An Hsv
Herpes outbreaks can range from a minor inconvenience to a major annoyance. Outbreaks of genital herpes can be particularly frustrating, as they can have a major effect on your personal relationship with your partner or partners.
Luckily, herpes is relatively easy to manage using modern medication. Most doctors recommend the use of antiviral medication like valacyclovir, which suppresses the herpes virus from multiplying within the body.
During an outbreak, this can prevent viral replication and speed up healing. Between outbreaks, the use of antiviral drugs can prevent viral shedding and reduce your risk of passing on herpes to other people through oral or sexual contact.
Want to learn more about treating herpes? Our comparison of valacyclovir, acyclovir, famciclovir and other herpes drugs explains how modern herpes medicine works, why its effective and how you can use it to minimize the negative effects of HSV-1 or HSV-2 outbreaks.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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The Blood Tests Do Have A Lot Of Value But Here Are The Biggest Issues:
About 50% of the population has type 1 herpes. Type 1 can be genital or oral. If you have never had symptoms and obtain an IgG based type-specific blood test , and the test comes back positive for type 1, we have no way of knowing whether you are infected orally, genitally, or both. The only way we can know which location is infected is by symptoms.
About 30% of negative results for HSV 1 are false negatives. This means if you test negative, you might still have HSV 1.
If you are positive for type 2 and fall within a positive range of 1.1 â 3.5, theres a decent chance this is a false positive. About 50% of positives that fall in this range are in error, with the closer you get to 3.5 the more likely you are positive and the closer to 1.1 the less likely you are positive. There can be false positives above 3.5 as well but theyre less likely. If you do test positive within this low range, the CDC recommends confirmatory testing. The most accurate confirmatory blood test is the Western Blot. The Western Blot is more complicated to obtain and your insurance may not cover it. In addition, many doctors do not know about the high false positive rate within this range so they incorrectly diagnose their patients without getting confirmation. I have worked with a number of patients diagnosed within this range who I encouraged to follow up with the Western Blot and they discovered they were negative.
Blood tests given too early after possible exposure can be false negative.
Transmitting Herpes Through Sex
Well start with the way most people associate with contracting herpes. Sex.
You can also catch herpes from oral sex. If you go down on someone who has genital herpes the infection can pass to your face resulting in cold sores. The opposite can happen too. If someone with cold sores goes down on you they can give you genital herpes.
You can even transmit herpes infections from just foreplay. If you touch an infected persons genitals and then touch your own, or if they touch their genitals and then touch yours you can catch their infection that way too.
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How Long Can Herpes Go Undetected
Once youve contracted HSV, there will be an incubation period the time it takes from contracting the virus until the first symptom appears.
The incubation period for HSV-1 and HSV-2 is the same: 2 to 12 days. For most people, the symptoms begin to show up in about 3 to 6 days.
However, according to the
How Soon Can You Be Tested
The incubation period for herpes is 2 to 12 days, which means that the best time to get tested for the herpes virus if you havent had an initial outbreak is after 12 days. If youre worried that youve been exposed to herpes but have not yet been diagnosed, here are some steps you can take:
- If youre currently sexually active, stop all sexual activity until you can receive a formal diagnosis.
- Reach out to your doctor and schedule an appointment for once the incubation period is up.
- If youre having an outbreak, you dont have to wait to get tested. Its possible to receive a diagnosis based on the lesions.
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Can You Have Hsv
Yes, it possible for HSV-2 to lay dormant and to never have an outbreak. That said, just because its dormant doesnt mean youre not contagious. About 10% of the time asymptomatic HSV-2 is spread between people.
As mentioned above, because its possible to have HSV-2 and never have an outbreak or show any symptoms, HSV-2 can easily spread without people even realizing it. If you know youve been exposed to herpes HSV-2 or HSV-1, get tested as soon as possible so you know your status.
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