What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
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.
How To Tell If You Have Herpes
Heres the truth about 8 common myths about genital and oral herpes, which can help you determine if youve been infected with either herpes simplex 1 or herpes simplex 2.
Nearly two-thirds of the global population is infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 , according to a recent report released by the World Health Organization. Researchers affilated with the organization estimated that 3.7 billion people under the age of 50 are infected with HSV-1, the type of herpes most people associate with cold sores on the mouth.
For more on herpes, check out our Herpes Simplex Condition Center
Another 417 million people worldwide aged 15-49 have HSV-2, the type most often thought of as a sexually transmitted infection , causing sores to appear on the genitals. But heres the truth: 140 million adults have genital infections caused by HSV-1, meaning half a billion people could sexually transmit either virus.
While this news may be shocking, dont panic. Herpes has been seriously stigmatized for years, but its also incredibly common, as these statistics show. The fact is, if you dont have one type of herpes already, youre very likely to be exposed to it eventually. Below, we take apart eight big myths about this common infection, so you can get a better sense of whether any sore or lesion youve noticed on either your mouth or genitals might actually be caused by herpes.
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Symptomatic Versus Asymptomatic Herpes Transmission
This table summarizes the chance of transmission of herpes when a person is symptomatic and when he or she is asymptomatic .
The table presents information about the overall chance of getting a herpes infection over time, with multiple contacts. Please notice that infected people pass the infection regardless of whether they are symptomatic or asymptomatic.
The percentages mentioned bellow are general estimates and may vary from person to person based on immune system strength , skin condition , and race .
Can I Catch Herpes Again On Another Part Of My Body Can My Partner Catch Herpes Back Off Me On Another Place
It is rare for people to re-catch a virus that they already have for a second time even on a different part of the body. Their immune system defends them against this. The virus does not travel through the body. So a person with a genital infection can kiss or perform oral sex there is no risk of infecting a partner by doing this the virus will not travel inside the body from the genitals to the mouth.
How can I protect my new partner? What about my new partner? How likely am I to infect my new partner?
Already, you are a safer partner than many others because you have been diagnosed so you will avoid sex from the moment you notice the start of an outbreak, until the time when it has totally cleared up. A man with genital herpes can protect a partner easily if his outbreaks appear in the area covered by a condom.
A woman with genital herpes can tell a man that he is half as likely to catch genital herpes from a woman, compared to the chance of a woman catching it from a man. This information can be useful for diagnosed women when talking to a new partner.
Herpes simplex infections are common. Many new partners will have one or both types already but not know. See the governments statistics for new genital herpes infections diagnosed in clinics in 2019 and add a further 53,000 cases which how many are probably diagnosed by GPs.
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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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How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
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Herpes Is Rarely Serious
Herpes is an extremely common and widely feared infection, but in most cases itâs not very serious. âMost genital herpes infections are asymptomatic and the fear of herpes is more psychological than it is physical,â H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Washington in Seattle and a nationally recognized STD expert, tells Health. âItâs basically just a skin disease.â
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Herpes sores can affect many areas of the body, including the mouth, genitals, and eyes. Knowing what herpes looks like across the body can help people diagnose the condition.
Herpes is a skin condition caused by the herpes simplex virus. The symptoms include sores that come and go over time. Different types of herpes affect different body parts.
This article will explain what herpes is, how people get it, and what herpes looks like with pictures.
Most people with HSV are asymptomatic, meaning they will not experience any symptoms. Others will notice sores or lesions. These sores look like blisters filled with fluid. Over a few days, the sores break open, ooze, and form a crust before healing.
People may also notice a tingling, itching, or burning feeling a few days before the sores appear. Some people may also experience flu-like symptoms, such as:
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
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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.
Useful Methods Include Testing An Actual Lesion
Keep in mind that theres no such thing as safe sex, only safer sex, which means using protection and being open and honest with your partner. It can definitely happen, Friedman says of the chances of transmitting the virus to a partner without a visible outbreak. Its called asymptotic shedding there are studies showing that the rates of transmission of HSV-2 are the same for symptomatic and asymptomatic. He adds that this is why using protection during sexual contact is so important, regardless of what blood tests say. Unfortunately, you can never ensure your risk of transmission will be zero, whether or not you know you have herpes, but using a condom or dental dam will get you closer to it.
Like Hutcherson, Friedman also doesnt recommend blood tests for herpes in the absence of symptoms. The tests that are useful involve sampling the actual blister or cold sore, he says, which can involve smearing scrapes of skin cells from the sore onto a slide, targeting the infected cells. As with some of the blood tests, though, this sampling test still wont tell you what type of herpes virus is present. A viral culture, on the other hand, will tell you which virus you have, though it takes some time to come back. Direct fluorescent antibody is by far the best, Friedman says, as you can get a result in a matter of hours which can be as useful as a culture. Not all hospitals have access to this method, however.
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Myth #: Herpes Can Affect Your Fertility
Herpes has no impact on fertility, says Hawkins however, people may be confused because there can be an issue with herpes when it comes to pregnancy. If someone is pregnant and gets an outbreak close to when shes going to deliver a baby, that could be problematic, she says. In very rare cases, the outbreak can be transmitted to the baby during birth this is called neonatal herpes and the condition is potentially deadly. In such a situation, doctors may recommend a cesarean to protect the baby from infection.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby
Neonatal herpes is one of the most serious complications of genital herpes.5,16 Healthcare providers should ask all pregnant women if they have a history of genital herpes.11 Herpes infection can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth, or babies may be infected shortly after birth, resulting in a potentially fatal neonatal herpes infection. 17 Infants born to women who acquire genital herpes close to the time of delivery and are shedding virus at delivery are at a much higher risk for developing neonatal herpes, compared with women who have recurrent genital herpes . 16,18-20 Thus, it is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. Women should be counseled to abstain from intercourse during the third trimester with partners known to have or suspected of having genital herpes. 5,11
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Chance Of Herpes Transmission By Gender
This table summarizes herpes transmission by gender. The percentages are the per-year chance of contracting the disease when one person is infected:
- infected male to susceptible female
- infected female to a susceptible male
As you can see, females are at higher risk of contracting the infection.
The percentages mentioned bellow are general estimates and may vary from person to person based on immune system strength , skin condition , and race .
|Vector of transmission||Chance of transmission|
|From an infected male to a susceptible female||7%â31%|
|From an infected female to a susceptible male||4%|
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.
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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 Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
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Whats The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Oral Herpes
Because there are 2 different kinds of herpes simplex viruses that can live on many body parts, lots of people are confused about what to call these infections. But its actually pretty simple:
When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 on or around your genitals , its called genital herpes.
When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 in or around your lips, mouth, and throat, its called oral herpes. Oral herpes sores are sometimes called cold sores or fever blisters.
HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes, and HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes each strain prefers to live on its favorite area. But its totally possible for both types of herpes simplex to infect either area. For example, you can get HSV-1 on your genitals if someone with a cold sore on their lips gives you oral sex. And you can get HSV-2 in your mouth if you give oral sex to someone with HSV-2 on their genitals.
What Does Genital Herpes Look Like
While some people with genital herpes will never have any symptoms, other people can develop symptoms within a few weeks of being infected.
Often, before the lesions appear, patients describe a prodrome, characterized by a tingling or burning sensation in the area where the lesions will develop that can be noticed during urination, along with itching or discomfort in the genital area.
You can also have the following symptoms:
- Blisters on the mouth or lips
- Fever, headache or pain in the joints
- Trouble urinating
The symptoms of genital herpes often go away and come back as recurring outbreaks. For most people, the first outbreak is the worst, and can last from two to three weeks. Future flare-ups are often less severe and do not last as long. Still, some people shed the virus regularly. The following triggers can make outbreaks more likely to occur:
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Menstrual periods
Recurrent genital herpes is most common in the first year after the initial infection and decreases as time goes on.
In many cases, anti-herpes medicine can help patients. When a person experiences a prodrome and suspects a recurrence is going to happen, they begin taking anti-herpes medications that lessen symptoms and shorten the time of the outbreak.
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