How Can I Tell If I Have Genital Herpes
Herpes sores usually form around the genital area a few days after you are exposed to the virus. The sores usually start as tiny, clear blisters. When they break open, they form pink or red sores. These sores usually crust over and heal within two to 12 days. The blisters are usually in clusters, but you might have just one blister.
You might have a fever, muscle aches, and sore lymph nodes in the groin area. Herpes sores can cause vaginal discharge in women. You also might have trouble urinating.
If you think you might have herpes, you should see your doctor. He or she can do tests to see if you are infected.
What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Men
In about two-thirds of cases, men will have no symptoms of herpes. Symptoms of herpes in men may include:
It is unclear if genital herpes affects fertility in men because it affects such a large part of the population. However, a recent study found that herpes may lower the sperm count in men and may have an effect on mens ability to get pregnant with a partner.
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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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.
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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If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs
No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.
At What Stage Is Herpes Contagious
Its important to note that herpes is contagious in every stage but is most contagious during the ulcer stage when the blisters have burst open, and fluid is present. Since herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact with infected areas, it is crucial to take preventative measures to stop the spread, including using condoms and dental dams. However, its always advisable to refrain from sexual activity, touching, and kissing when experiencing a herpes outbreak. Wait until you have fully healed before having sexual intercourse, and refrain from touching your sores, since this is an easy way to spread the virus.
An effective way to prevent a herpes outbreak and the spread of herpes is by taking prescription medication from a doctor. Some common medications prescribed for herpes treatment include:
These are all taken in pill form, while severe cases may need to be treated with an acyclovir IV.
Whether oral or genital, you can start treatment during any of the various herpes outbreak stages from onset to healing to prevent another flare-up.
Are you experiencing any signs or symptoms of a herpes outbreak? Book an appointment through the Air Dr app with one of our qualified physicians to get the medical care you need today.
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Treatments Your Physician May Prescribe
Most herpes simplex virus infections are easy for physicians to diagnose. On occasion, however, a swab from the infected skin may be sent to the laboratory for viral culture, which takes a few days to grow. Blood tests may also be performed.Untreated HSV infections will go away on their own, but medications can reduce the symptoms and shorten the duration of outbreaks. There is no cure for herpes simplex virus infection.Although herpetic whitlow symptoms will eventually go away on their own, your physician may prescribe antiviral medications in order to help relieve symptoms and to prevent spread of the infection to other people:
- Acyclovir pills
- Topical acyclovir ointment
These medications are usually taken for 714 days.More severe herpetic whitlow may require oral antibiotic pills if the area are also infected with bacteria.Although it is rare, recurrent herpetic whitlow can be treated with the same oral antiviral medications:
- Acyclovir pills
- Famciclovir pills
- Topical acyclovir ointment
People who experience early signs before recurrent infections may benefit from episodic treatment, by starting to take medication after the onset of tingling and burning but before the appearance of blisters and sores.Very rarely, individuals may have recurrent herpetic whitlow outbreaks that are frequent enough or severe enough to justify suppressive therapy, in which medications are taken every day in order to decrease the frequency and severity of attacks.
How Do You Treat Herpes
Although there is no cure for herpes and symptoms can sometimes clear up on their own, its important to seek treatment to reduce both the severity and frequency of the infection.
In saying that, while treatment for herpes cannot completely cure the virus, it can help in reducing the symptoms of herpes and reduce the likelihood of it spreading between sexual partners. Similar to how the signs and symptoms of oral and genital herpes can differ, the treatments for each tend to vary.
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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.
What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic
The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:
- ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
- use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing
The test cannot:
- be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
- tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from
Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus.
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Scabies Rash Can Occur On The Genitals
Scabies is caused by tiny eight-legged bugs that burrow into the skin to live, feed, and lay their eggs, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association . There are millions of cases of scabies worldwide each year.
If youve never had scabies before, it can take two to six weeks to develop symptoms after the mites move in, according to the AAD. If youve had scabies before, the itching usually begins within one to four days.
Signs and symptoms of scabies include:
- Itching, mostly at night.
- A rash that causes small bumps that often form a line. The bumps can resemble hives, tiny bites, knots under the skin, or pimples. Scaly patches that look like eczema may also appear.
- Sores, caused by scratching the rash, which can become infected.
- Thick crusts on the skin that form when a person develops a severe type of scabies called crusted scabies or Norwegian scabies.
People usually get scabies from direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Adults can get scabies through sexual contact. You can also get scabies from infested items such as bedding, clothes, and furniture, but this is less common.
A dermatologist can often diagnose scabies just by looking at the rash, and they can confirm that diagnosis by removing some skin and looking at it under a microscope.
Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
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What Happens If Herpes Goes Untreated
The first outbreak of genital herpes can be the most severe and can cause complications such as vaginal yeast infections, urinating problems, and meningitis.
Treatment may not be necessary for subsequent outbreaks, but anyone experiencing very regular or severe outbreaks should speak with a doctor about preventive treatment.
How Is Genital Herpes Treated
Genital herpes cannot be cured, but there are ways to treat outbreaks. Your doctor can give you medicines that make the sores go away more quickly than they would on their own. These medicines can also help reduce the number of outbreaks you get.
When you have herpes sores, you should wear loose clothing and keep the genital area clean and dry. Try not to touch the sores, and if you do touch them, wash your hands with warm water and soap right away.
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What Triggers A Herpes Outbreak
As we mentioned, following you first herpes infection, the virus lies dormant in your nerves. Your immune system usually keeps it at bay.
But your immune system can only deal with so much at once. That means if you have dormant herpes and your immune system needs to fend off another virus or bacteria, it may get distracted, allowing herpes to crop up. Thats why cold sores are called cold sores or fever blistersthey typically appear when you catch another bug .
Different types of stress can also trigger outbreaks. Psychological stress, especially the stress caused by extreme emotional upset, can lead to an outbreak .
Things that cause physical stress can also contribute. Sunlight is a common trigger of oral herpes outbreaks, while friction from tight clothing or sex, and even hormone changes associated with menstruation, are common triggers of genital herpes outbreaks .
Speak to a healthcare provider about your options and which treatments might be effective for preventing or shortening your outbreaks.
Herpes Outbreak Treatment Options
Even without treatment, most herpes outbreaks go away on their own. There are treatments available, however, which have been proven to shorten and even prevent future outbreaks. These antiviral medications work by preventing the virus from making copies of itself and spreading through your cells to cause an outbreak. If you suffer from oral herpes, a healthcare provider may recommend a topical cream or ointment that you should apply at the first sign of an outbreak. If you experience recurrent genital herpes outbreaks, you may be offered oral herpes treatments which are pills you take by mouth. Examples of antiviral drugs include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir . These are all standard options proven to help decrease the severity and length of outbreaks from herpes .
Prescription antiviral treatments are usually very effective at prevent future outbreaks, reducing the chance of experiencing an outbreak by 7080%. Many people on antiviral therapy report experiencing no herpes symptoms at all . Using medication within the first 24 hours of symptoms can shorten outbreaks by several hours or days, ultimately reducing any discomfort in the long run .
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Do Condoms Help Prevent The Spread Of Genital Herpes
Yes. To prevent transmission of herpes, we recommend that condoms be used 100% of the time. Many patients will shed the virus and be contagious when they dont have symptoms. Studies have shown that asymptomatic shedding occurs between 1% and 3% of the time in patients with HSV II genital infections. Many new herpes infections occur from partners who are shedding the virus asymptomatically, so condoms are highly recommended.
Condoms may not be an attractive option for monogamous couples or for couples who desire to become pregnant. Couples may opt to have serological tests to determine if either partner has an asymptomatic infection. In close monogamous relationships, the risks of transmission can be weighed against other relationship issues, such as intimacy and pregnancy.
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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How Long Do Herpes Outbreaks Last
When you hear the word herpes, the image that comes to mind is probably one of a sore at the edge of your lip that crops up every time you have a cold or a fever. But herpes is a little more complicated that that. Believe it or not, most people who have herpes have absolutely no idea. Thats because, for the most part, the virus can be entirely asymptomatic. Usually the first infection when it comes to oral herpes happens sometime during childhood and not from sexual contact, and the symptoms are a lot more like a cold. In severe cases, the initial outbreak can involve a fever, swollen lymph nodes, swollen gums, and sores in your mouth, throat, or on your tongue. An initial herpes outbreak lasts around 14 days but can take up to six weeks for sores to fully heal .
Much like oral herpes, an initial genital herpes infection can last a lot longer than subsequent outbreaks and may be accompanied by fever and other whole-body symptoms and some symptoms may persist for weeks. Recurrent genital herpes outbreaks cause symptoms like itching, redness, and irritation in the genital area, but like oral herpes, genital herpes can also be asymptomatic . A genital herpes outbreak may begin with pain in the genitals and shooting pains or tingling in your legs, hips, or butt. These symptoms usually occur before you can see any blisters or lesions .