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.
Risks Of Herpes During Pregnancy
The major risk associated with herpes and pregnancy is neonatal herpes infections. These infections of the newborn are rare, but can be quite serious or even fatal. The biggest risk for neonatal herpes occurs for people who are newly infected during pregnancyparticularly near the time of delivery.
Cesarean section is recommended instead of vaginal delivery for people who have genital symptoms at the time of delivery. It is also recommended for people who are having prodromal symptoms that signal a likely outbreak. C-section has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of herpes transmission to the infant.
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What Is Suppressive Treatment For Genital Herpes
Suppressive treatment involves taking medication on a daily basis to reduce the chance of a genital herpes outbreak.
Taking antiviral medicines on a daily basis also reduces the amount of virus that is shed, both when sores are present and in between outbreaks, when the skin looks normal.
Suppressive treatment does not guarantee that you will not get a herpes outbreak, but should reduce the severity and frequency of herpes outbreaks.
Over time, your immune system tends to exert better control over the herpes virus, so your doctor may suggest stopping treatment every 6 months to see whether you have any further outbreaks. Treatment can be re-started if you do have a recurrence.
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How Long Does It Take For The Medication To Work
All antiviral herpes medications begin to work quickly, which is why they should be taken as close as possible to the first emergence of symptoms.
This will give the medications the best chance to reduce the severity of the outbreak, and to speed up the resolution of an outbreak .
When taken within the first three days of an initial genital herpes outbreak, antiviral medications can shorten the lifespan of the outbreak by two to four days.
During later occurrences, these medications can shorten the lifespan of these outbreaks by 1-2 days.
Many people with HSV-2 do not experience regular genital herpes outbreaks.
But for people who do experience several episodes per year, preventative treatment can make a big difference.
In clinical studies, many patients who begin daily preventative treatment, go on to experience zero genital herpes outbreaks over the course of the following year.
Preventative antivirals can even help those patients who experience especially frequent and painful outbreaks of genital herpes.
In one study of this population, for instance, preventative antivirals were shown to reduce the average number of yearly outbreaks from 11 to 2.
Its important to remember, though, that none of these medications can completely cure herpes or eliminate the HSV virus from the body.
While preventative medicines, especially, can make it less likely that youll pass on the infection to sexual partners, it cannot completely eliminate this risk.
Herpes Medication: Treatment And Drug Information
Herpes is a common, lifelong viral infection that affects nearly half of American adults under the age of 50.
Most infected individuals do not develop herpes symptoms at all, but for some people, herpes infections can cause painful sores, blisters, or lesions, often on the mouth or genitals.
People who carry the herpes virus can spread it to others through close, direct, and intimate contact.
In this article, Ill review the medications that doctors use to treat both oral and genital herpes.
These include the oral antiviral medications acyclovir , valacyclovir , and famciclovir .
Ill discuss how long it typically takes for these treatments to work, as well as the various dosages available with these treatments.
Ill examine the different kinds of herpes strains and look at the major side effects of herpes medications.
Finally, Ill discuss when to see a doctor if you think you may be experiencing a herpes breakout. .
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Stages Of Herpes Outbreaks
Like any other infection, every case is different. The duration of a herpes outbreak will depend on factors such as:
- Your individual immune system
- How many outbreaks youâve had in the past
- Treatment history
Keep in mind that no matter your history or treatment, thereâs help.
The stages of a herpes outbreak can last between two and 14 days and can be broken down into stages:
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What Is Episodic Treatment Of Genital Herpes
Episodic treatment of genital herpes involves starting a course of antiviral tablets as soon as you notice symptoms of an outbreak, such as tingling or redness on an area of genital skin.
Taking medication at the first signs of an episode will help to reduce the length and severity of symptoms. It may also ward off an outbreak if you start taking the medicine as soon as you notice warning signs of a recurrence.
This type of treatment is often the preferred treatment for people who dont have genital herpes outbreaks very often.
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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.
Know If You’re At Risk For Catching This Incurable Infection
Ask Mens Fitness: A woman I just started seeing told me she has herpes, but that shes on meds for it, so I cant get it. Is that true? If not, is it worth having sex with her if I might catch it? I know its not curable MARK P., EAU CLAIRE, WI
The Expert: Pyschotherapist/Sex Therapist Tammy Nelson, PH.D
The Answer:Today if you meet someone honest enough to admit they have herpes, theyre probably on Valtrex or acyclovir. Both suppress the infection, which reduces the risk to uninfected partners, including the risk from viral shedding, which occurs even with no open sores.
If you use condoms, the odds are lowabout 0.4%of being infected if shes on antiviral suppressive meds theres also little chance of an outbreak. If there is an outbreak , avoid sexual contact for at least seven days.
Its up to you to make the decision about being sexual with someone who has herpes and to know what medication shes on and symptoms shes experiencing. Open communication is critical if you want to be in a relationship going forward.
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What Other Drugs Interact With Acyclovir
If your doctor has directed you to use this medication, your doctor or pharmacist may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for them. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of this medicine or any drug before seeking medical advice from your doctor, healthcare provider or pharmacist first. To do so may result in serious consequences or side effects.
Severe Interactions of Acyclovir include:
- There are no severe interactions from the use of acyclovir.
Serious Interactions of Acyclovir include:
What Is In This Leaflet
This leaflet answers some common questions about Valtrex tablets. It does not contain all of the available information.
It does not take the place of talking to your doctor or pharmacist.
All medicines have risks and benefits. Your doctor has weighed the risks of you taking Valtrex tablets against the benefits this medicine is expected to have for you.
If you have any concerns about taking this medicine, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
Keep this leaflet with the medicine. You may need to read it again.
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Valtrex Side Effects And Interactions And How To Avoid Them
If youve ever had shingles or cold sores, you know how uncomfortable these infections can be. Valtrex is an antiviral medication that can help relieve symptoms that come from viral infections like shingles or chickenpox. This article gives an overview of drug information including Valtrex side effects, warnings, and drug interactions that you should be aware of before taking the medication.
How Is Genital Herpes Managed Or Treated
If you have mild symptoms or infrequent outbreaks, you might not need or want treatment. During an outbreak, these steps can ease symptoms:
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep 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.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
Antiviral medications can prevent outbreaks. They can also lessen symptoms and help symptoms go away faster. You take this medicine as a pill, intravenous injection or skin cream. When taken daily, antivirals can prevent an outbreak. They lower the chances of spreading the virus to other people.
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About Herpes Suppressive Therapy
If you opt for suppressive therapy, one of the most common antiviral medications is Valtrex, or valacyclovir. Another commonly prescribed medication goes by the name of Zovirax, or acyclovir. Valacyclovir and acyclovir can be considered close cousins as they are chemically similar.
Read on for the details about how effective suppressive therapy is and how it can affect transmission rates. Well also go over dosing and side effects of this medication. Note: This isnt a substitute for medical advice. You should always consult your doctor to determine whats right for your health.
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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Can You Get Genital Herpes From Oral Herpes
You can also get genital herpes if you have oral herpesâ while theres a strain of the virus that is most likely to show up around your mouth , 40 percent of genital herpes cases are this strain . This is important for two reasons: First off, it means that if your sexual partner also has herpes and they go down on you, you can get it genitally even though you already have it orally. It also means you can give it to yourself genitally if, for instance, you lick your fingers and then masturbate. This is called autoinoculation, and its pretty rare but it does happen â usually during your first outbreak, which is the most intense. You can read more about that here.
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How Do Other Antivirals Work
Antivirals are medications used in the treatment and prevention of various types of viral infections. Other antivirals are medications that are not categorized into any specific classes of antivirals. Most of the other antivirals block viral replication by interfering with DNA polymerase, an enzymevital for DNA synthesis and viral replication.
Some of the other antivirals are active drugs that directly take effect, while some are prodrugs, which release the active form of the drug after being metabolized. Other antivirals include the following:
- Acyclovir: Acyclovir is an active drug effective against herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 that cause genital and oral herpes, and varicella-zoster virus which causes chickenpox and shingles. Acyclovir gets incorporated into the viral DNA, inhibits DNA polymerase, and terminates the DNA chain to prevent viral replication.
- Brincidofovir: Brincidofovir is a prodrug approved for treating human smallpox, a disease caused by the variola virus. Although smallpox has been eradicated with vaccination, concerns that the variola virus can be used as a bioweapon remain.
- Brincidofovir penetrates cells and releases cidofovir which is metabolized to produce cidofovir diphosphate, the active drug that selectively inhibits orthopoxvirus DNA polymerase-mediated viral DNA synthesis and reduces the rate of viral DNA synthesis.
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What Helps Herpes Sores Heal Faster
Keeping the sores clean, cool, and dry is beneficial to the healing process. Bandaging, heating, or picking at sores will irritate them and can extend their duration. The most effective method for shortening herpes outbreaks is a prescription antiviral medication like valacyclovir, famciclovir, or acyclovir.
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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 Do You Treat Herpes
Theres no cure for herpes, but prescription medications can ease symptoms, end outbreaks sooner, and lower the chances of passing the virus to other people.
You can also help ease the pain caused by herpes outbreaks by taking a warm bath, wearing loose clothing and putting an ice pack on the sores.
Treating A First Outbreak Of Herpes
A first outbreak of genital herpes can cause a long illness with severe genital sores and can also affect the nervous system. Even if your first episode of herpes is mild, you may have severe or prolonged symptoms later. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone who has a first episode of genital herpes take antiviral drugs.
Almost everyone who has one episode of genital herpes caused by HSV-2 also has later breakouts of sores. Later episodes are less common if your case of genital herpes is due to an HSV-1 infection.
The frequency of genital herpes outbreaks slows down over time in many people.
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Different Types Of Herpes Hsv
People with herpes can experience viral symptoms in widely different ways: across this population, there is a large range in both the frequency and severity of peoples herpes outbreaks.
Ultimately, all herpes infections are caused by one of two strains of the herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2.
Herpes simplex virus-1 is the strain that is primarily responsible for oral herpes outbreaks, which are also known as cold sores.
In some cases, HSV-1 infections can also cause genital herpes outbreaks, for example if the virus is spread through oral sex.
Herpes simplex virus-2 , meanwhile, is the herpes simplex strain that causes most outbreaks of genital herpes.
Typically, most herpes outbreaks will resolve on their own in 1-2 weeks.
At this point, the herpes virus will move from your skin cells and into your nervous system, where it will lay dormant until it is reactivated, if for example, your immune system is under stress.
However, certain medications can make the resolution of a herpes outbreak quicker, and more tolerable.
In some cases, they can even prevent outbreaks from occurring with frequency .