Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no medication to cure your body of the herpes virus. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms, reducing the frequency of recurrences and reducing transmission.
Symptoms can be improved by:
- ice packs to the affected area
- pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol
- antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. These can reduce the severity of an episode if taken early enough . Topical antivirals usually used for cold sores on the lips or face are not suitable for use on the genitals.
Support And Advice For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.
Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes
Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.
Recurrences may be triggered by:
- no apparent reason noted.
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When Is Preventive Treatment Considered
Some people have outbreaks of genital herpes very often or experience especially severe symptoms. Then it may be a good idea to take antiviral medication for a longer time including during symptom-free phases. The goal is to prevent further outbreaks and to keep the symptoms from becoming so severe. Also, the antiviral medication reduces the likelihood of infecting others. As preventive treatment, the WHO recommends the following:
- aciclovir: 400 mg two times per day,
- famciclovir: 250 mg two times per day or
- valaciclovir: 500 mg once per day.
Research shows that preventive treatment can considerably lower the risk of further outbreaks. The people participating had four or more herpes outbreaks per year before the start of the studies, and then took an antiviral medication or a fake treatment for up to one year. A comprehensive analysis of the study results shows that
- 96 out of 100 people who took a placebo had at least one further outbreak of genital herpes.
- 46 out of 100 people who were given antiviral medication had at least one further outbreak of genital herpes.
In other words, the medication prevented further outbreaks in 50 out of 100 people within one year.
People with very frequent herpes outbreaks also benefited from preventive treatment: In one study involving people with very frequent outbreaks, the medication lowered the number of episodes in one year from 11 to 2.
Herpes Can Happen To Anyone
Did you know that the virus that causes cold sores or fever blisters on or around the mouth can also infect other areas of the body? The infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus. And its very common.
Most people with herpes infection dont even know it. They may not have symptoms or not notice them.
For people who do have symptoms, a herpes infection may show up as one or more blisters. These can be on or near the mouth, eyes, genitals, or rectum. After the blisters break, they turn into sores or ulcers. These sores are painful and take about a week to heal.
Once someone is infected with herpes simplex, the virus goes into hiding and stays in the body for the rest of their lives. The virus can re-emerge at any time and cause an outbreak. Some people have outbreaks several times per year. Tingling or burning in the area can signal that an outbreak is looming.
There are two types of herpes simplex viruses: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is often transmitted during childhood. You can get it from close contact with someone who has the infection. For example, a family member with a cold sore may kiss a child. HSV-1 is the main cause of herpes of the mouth or eyes. Although its possible for HSV-2 to infect the mouth or eyes, its usually found in the genital area.
Theres no cure for herpes. But anti-herpes medicine can speed healing of the sores. If taken every day, this medicine can also lower the risk of future outbreaks.
Help Fight the Stigma of Herpes
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Treatments For Herpes Simplex
Theres no cure for herpes. Sores often clear up on their own, but keeping the affected area clean and using antiviral creams can alleviate pain and irritation during flare-ups. These drugs and creams are most effective when applied as soon as irritation begins, before sores appear. Prompt treatment can shorten the length of the outbreak.
Certain antiviral drugs can shorten the lengths of outbreaks, while others that are taken daily can reduce the frequency of outbreaks and reduce the chance of spreading. Some prescription antiviral medicines are:
Certain measures can be taken to prevent outbreaks, such as wearing sunscreen on the affected area when spending time outside. There are also a few tricks to soothe outbreaks when they initially begin:
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Valacyclovir For Recurrent Herpes Outbreaks
Herpes can remain dormant in the body for weeks, months or years in between outbreaks. On average, people with HSV-1 experience about one outbreak per year, while people with HSV-2 will usually experience four to five outbreaks per year.
When these outbreaks occur, valacyclovir can provide fast and effective relief, helping to control herpes outbreak symptoms.
The typical valacyclovir dosage for recurrent herpes outbreaks is 500 mg two times per day over a period of three days. Like with first-time herpes outbreaks, valacyclovir is most effective when its taken as soon as you notice a herpes outbreak developing.
When taken as soon as you notice a herpes outbreak, valacyclovir can provide relief in as little as two to three days, minimizing symptoms and reducing the risk of you passing genital herpes to sexual partners.
Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
What Are The Treatment Options For Genital Herpes
Treatment with antiviral medication is a good idea the very first time people have an outbreak of genital herpes. Later outbreaks are often milder, and then medication isn’t always needed. Preventive treatment may be considered if the outbreaks are frequent.
Genital herpes may clear up on its own. But the symptoms are often more severe the first time you have an outbreak. Most people then use antiviral medication to relieve the symptoms and prevent complications. These medications include aciclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir.
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Herpes Signs And Symptoms
While some people realize that they have genital herpes, many do not. It is estimated that one in eight persons in the United States has genital herpes however, as many as 90 percent are unaware that they have the virus. This is because many people have very mild symptoms that go unrecognized or are mistaken for another condition or no symptoms at all.
Because signs can vary a great deal, we recommend that an individual see a healthcare provider to be tested if they have a lesion of any kind. This can be swabbed for testing.
A person may show symptoms within days after contracting genital herpes, or it may take weeks, months, or even years. Some people may have a severe outbreak within days after contracting the virus while others may have a first outbreak so mild that they do not notice it. Because of these possibilities, it can be difficult for people to know when and from whom they may have contracted the virus.
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 .
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I Had Lesions When I Was Evaluated But My Culture Was Negative Does This Mean That I Dont Have Herpes
Not necessarily. Although lesions can be caused by something other than herpes, false negative herpes tests can occur if the samples are not taken appropriately, if there is a long transport time between the clinic and the laboratory, or if cultures were taken late in the course of the lesions. Lesions that occur early in the course of a herpes outbreak are much more likely to have positive cultures than cultures taken after the lesions crust over.
Will Genital Herpes Clear Up Without Treatment
How is genital herpes treated? There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. The blisters usually heal and go by themselves, so you may not always need treatment. There is antiviral medicines for herpes, which can: shorten outbreaks, relieve discomfort and stop symptoms from getting worse.
Can genital herpes resolve on its own?
Herpes outbreaks usually last for about one to two weeks, though the first outbreak after infection may last longer. The symptoms typically go away on their own without treatment. However, there are at-home remedies and prescription treatments which may help to ease symptoms and shorten the length of outbreaks.
How do I get rid of genital herpes ASAP?
Antiviral medications offer a safe and effective way of controlling a herpes outbreak and can make it go away faster. There are three popular oral treatments for genital herpes aciclovir, valaciclovir and famciclovir: Aciclovir is an antiviral medicine which stops the herpes virus from reproducing.
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When To Talk With A Doctor
Herpes isnt curable, but it can be treated with antiviral medications. These medications can reduce the severity of an outbreak.
If you suspect you have herpes, make an appointment with a doctor. Its also a good idea to talk with your doctor about a herpes screening if:
- your current or previous sexual partner has herpes
- youre planning to have sex with a new partner
- you had a risky sexual encounter
If youve already been diagnosed with herpes and youre currently experiencing an outbreak, the outbreak might go away without causing complications and without treatment.
However, its wise to make an appointment with your doctor if:
- the outbreak is particularly painful or unbearable
- youre experiencing symptoms of other STIs
- youre experiencing frequent, severe outbreaks
If youre sexually active, its a good idea to have regular STI screenings. You can book appointments for STI screenings with your doctors office. You could also try a local clinic, certain pharmacies, or Planned Parenthood.
What Happens If You Leave Herpes Untreated
Many people who contract herpes dont realize it. This comes down to the fact that herpes doesnt always show obvious signs and symptoms, and when herpes symptoms do show – they can sometimes be quite mild.
Without regular sexual health testing, its possible to have the virus, not know, and, ultimately leave it untreated. Unfortunately, there are some notable complications associated with untreated herpes, particularly untreated genital herpes, these include:
- Increased risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections
- Babies can be exposed to the virus during birth
- Inflammation in the bladder or the lining of the rectum
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Genital Herpes Symptoms In Women
Genital herpes symptoms occur in outbreaks that come and go.
The primary symptom is blisters that pop and become ulcers. When they first appear, they are usually small red bumps that can be subtle and easy to overlook. When the blisters pop, they can be very painful.
Some people get a tingling or burning sensation where herpes sores are about to develop. This is called a prodrome, which is an early sign of a disease or infection.
When you do have an outbreak, the blisters or ulcers can appear in several areas of the body, including:
- Female genitals
- Itching or burning in the affected area
- Pain in the affected area
- Feeling of fullness in the abdomen
- Unusual vaginal discharge
Some people may not have an outbreak, others have only one outbreak, and others will have repeated outbreaks .
Even if you have had no symptoms for years, you can still transmit the virus, though it’s less contagious when you are asymptomatic.
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.
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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.
How Long After Herpes Outbreak Is It Still Contagious
For oral herpes, cold sores are usually contagious for up to 15 days and are generally no longer contagious once all symptoms have cleared, which includes the blister itself and any scabbing.
Someone carrying genital herpes should wait until 7 days after the sore heals to begin engaging in sexual activity, as the herpes virus can spread from sores not covered by a condom.
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Tips For Managing Herpes Symptoms
The symptoms of herpes can be painful and uncomfortable. Fortunately, there are a few things you can easily do at home to help ease these symptoms, including:
- Apply an ice pack or warm compress to the affected area.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen.
- Keep the affected area clean and dry to reduce the risk of infection.
- Avoid tight clothing that may irritate genital sores.
- Dont pop blisters or pick at scabs that form over the sores.
- Ask your healthcare provider to recommend a painkilling cream.
Taking proper care of your skin and overall health while experiencing an outbreak can help to prevent complications like infection and assist in faster healing for your sores. Keep in mind that you are especially contagious during an outbreak, so its best to avoid intimate contact, such as kissing or sex, until the sores heal.
What Causes Cold Sores
The herpes simplex virus type 1 causes cold sores. This is a different from herpes simplex virus type 2 . HSV-2 causes lesions in the genital area called genital herpes. Even though HSV-1 typically causes sores around the mouth and HSV-2 causes genital sores, these viruses can cause sores in either place.
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Is There A Link Between Herpes And Hiv
Genital herpes is one of the most common co-infections for people with HIV. It can be a more serious condition if youâre HIV positive – outbreaks may last longer and blisters can be more severe. If youâre having recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes, you should have an HIV test, as this may be a sign of a weakened immune system caused by HIV.
Having an STI such as genital herpes can increase your risk of getting and passing on HIV. The blisters and sores provide an easy way for HIV to get into your body and cause an infection.
People with HIV who arenât on treatment or who have a lower CD4 count are more likely to get other infections, like herpes.
If youâre taking antiretroviral treatment for HIV, itâs important to discuss this with your doctor. They can advise how treatment for herpes may interact with your HIV drugs.