How Long Youve Been Infected
Yourexposure time to the virus can explain why your herpes outbreaks are gettingworse. In fact, the number, the severity and the duration of herpes outbreakstend to decrease as time goes on. This is because, over time, antibodies areproduced to fight herpes virus. Thus, people with the infection will have lesssevere and/or less frequent outbreaks.
Can Genital Herpes Be Prevented
The only way to prevent genital herpes and other STDs is abstinence. This means not having sex . If someone decides to have sex, using a latex condom every time can prevent most STDs.
But condoms can’t always prevent the spread of genital herpes. This is because the virus may be in the skin near the genitals .
People also can lower their risk of getting an STD by:
- getting tested with any new partners before having sex
- only having sex with one partner
People who are sexually active should get tested for STDs every year or more often if recommended by their health care provider. To find a testing site near you, visit the CDC’s National HIV and STD Testing Resources.
Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
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Complications Of Oral Herpes
Theres no current cure for oral herpes . The virus remains in your system once its transmitted.
Blisters can disappear and reappear throughout your life. When you dont have visible symptoms, it means the virus is inactive, but you can still transmit it to others. Many people dont develop visible symptoms.
For the most part, oral herpes is a mild infection. Sores usually clear up on their own without treatment.
In rare cases, complications can occur. This is more likely to happen in people who have a weakened immune system, perhaps due to age or a chronic illness.
Possible complications can include dehydration if drinking becomes painful due to oral blisters. If left untreated, dehydration can lead to serious problems. This certainly isnt likely to occur. Just make sure youre drinking enough, even if its uncomfortable.
Another incredibly rare complication of oral herpes is encephalitis. This occurs when the viral infection travels to the brain and causes inflammation. Encephalitis isnt usually life-threatening. It may only cause mild flu-like symptoms.
Minor complications of oral herpes include a skin infection if the virus comes in contact with broken skin. This can occur if you have a cut or eczema. It can sometimes be a medical emergency if cold sores cover widespread areas of skin.
Children with oral herpes may develop herpes whitlow. If a child sucks their thumb, blisters can form around the finger.
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How Often Do Outbreaks Occur
The number of outbreaks someone has varies from person to person. The average number of outbreaks for a person with genital HSV-2 is four to five per year. The average for genital HSV-1 is less than one outbreak per year.
Usually, there are more outbreaks during the first year, and many people find that outbreaks become less severe and less frequent with time.
Herpes triggers are highly individual, but with time, many people learn to recognize, and sometimes avoid, factors that seem to reactivate HSV in their own bodies. Illness, poor diet, emotional or physical stress, friction in the genital area, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light , surgical trauma, and steroidal medication may trigger a herpes outbreak.
The frequency of outbreaks can often be managed through effective stress management, and getting adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise. For people with frequent outbreaks, suppressive therapy with any one of the antiviral treatments can reduce outbreaks by as much as 80%.
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How Long Does Shingles Last
How long shingles lasts will depend on the individual, but Dr. Wild tells us it usually lasts around three to five weeks.
Your skin may be painful or uncomfortable after the rash has gone, however, this usually settles over time, she adds.
People with shingles should stay away from pregnant women who have not had chickenpox before, people with a weakened immune system, and babies less than one month oldunless its your own baby.
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How Likely Am I To Get Herpes If My Partner Has It
In general, women have a higher risk of becoming infected than men. Having other sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV also increases the risk of transmission. In studies with couples where one partner had genital herpes, the other partner became infected within one year in 5 to 10% of the couples.
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Coping With Your Feelings
Finding out that you have genital herpes may cause you to have negative thoughts or feelings about yourself or about sex, such as:
- Feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
- Being afraid of the consequences of the infection.
- Being angry at the person who infected you.
- Feeling frustrated with treatment or recurrent outbreaks.
- Feeling scared to have sex.
A counsellor or support groups for people with herpes may be helpful.
Can Food Trigger A Herpes Outbreak
Herpes outbreaks usually occur after a trigger behavior causes the virus to go from dormant to active.
Theres no cure for herpes, meaning that once youre infected, the virus will remain in your body even if it isnt active. Between outbreaks, herpes lives in the nerve cells of the jaw or the spine .
Common herpes triggers include sunlight, hormonal changes, a weakened immune system and traumatic events such as injury or surgery.
As a general rule, foods are unlikely to trigger a herpes outbreak. However, some foods could potentially increase your risk of experiencing an outbreak if they have negative effects on your immune system.
On the other hand, foods that strengthen your immune system such as vegetables, fruits and other natural foods rich in vitamins may potentially reduce your risk of experiencing outbreaks.
While you cant completely prevent outbreaks by switching to a specific diet, any diet thats rich in vitamins, minerals and other healthy nutrients that strengthen your immune system can be a valuable asset when it comes to wellbeing.
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Herpes Might Not Have Any Symptoms
You or your partner may not have any herpes symptoms that you can see or feel, or the signs of herpes may be so mild you dont even notice them. Sometimes people confuse herpes symptoms with other things, like pimples, ingrown hairs, and the flu.
Herpes symptoms come and go, but that doesnt mean the infection goes away or that you cant spread it to other people. Once you have herpes, it stays in your body for life.
When To See A Doctor About Shingles
If you notice any symptoms of shingles, Dr. Wild suggests contacting your doctor for a phone or video appointment to discuss your symptoms further.
You might need medicine to help speed up your recovery and avoid longer-lasting problems. In any case, your doctor will be able to help, Dr. Wild adds
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Other Infections And Complications
). Transmission usually occurs at birth, when the baby comes into contact with infected secretions in the birth canal. Rarely, HSV is transmitted to the fetus during pregnancy. Transmission during birth is more likely when
The mother has recently acquired the herpes infection
The mother has visible herpes sores in the vaginal area, although babies may become infected from mothers who have no apparent sores
When acquired at birth, the infection appears between the 1st and 4th week of life. Newborns with HSV infection become very ill. They may have widespread disease, brain infection, or skin infection. Without treatment, about 85% of those with widespread disease and about half of those with a brain infection die. Even with treatment, many have brain damage.
What Are The Possible Complications Of A Cold Sore
Cold sores usually go away by themselves within 2 weeks. For most people cold sores are not serious. The viruses that cause cold sores can cause more serious illness, though. People who have a weak immune system may get more serious infections from herpes viruses. These include people being treated for cancer or who have HIV disease. Babies may also become very ill from a herpes infection.
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How Herpes Is Treated
There is no cure for herpes.
- The health care provider may prescribe antiviral medicine to help speed up the healing process. It also shortens the time when the virus can spread from the herpes sores.
- Pain may be treated with medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin or by applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected area.
- If sores are in the mouth, avoid foods high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices.
- The infected area should be kept clean and dry.
- Wash hands often and avoid touching the sores to prevent spreading the virus.
- It is important to stay healthy by getting enough rest, having proper nutrition and exercise and managing stress well.
Who Should I See If I Think I Have Genital Herpes
If you suspect that you have genital herpes or any other STI then see your GP or contact your local genitourinary medicine clinic. You can go to the local GUM clinic without a referral from your GP. You can look for a GUM clinic near you in the UK by searching the Family Planning Associations Find a clinic service. Your GP would also be able to advise you where your nearest clinic is.
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Ruling Out Conditions That Resemble Oral Herpes
Simple canker sores are often confused with the cold sores of HSV-1. Canker sores frequently crop up singly or in groups on the inside of the mouth, or on or underneath the tongue. Their cause is unknown, and they are common in perfectly healthy people. They are usually white or grayish crater-like ulcers with a sharp edge and a red rim. They usually heal within 2 weeks without treatment.
This aphthous ulcer is located in front of and just below the bottom teeth.
Oral candidiasis is a yeast infection that causes a whitish overgrowth in the mouth. It is most common in infants, but can appear in people of all ages, particularly people taking antibiotics or those with impaired immune systems.
Other conditions that may be confused with oral herpes include herpangina , sore throat caused by strep or other bacteria, and infectious mononucleosis.
How Is Herpes Simplex Treated
Some people have few to no herpes outbreaks and choose not to have treatment. But many people prefer to use medications that shorten outbreaks and reduce symptoms.
During an outbreak, you may use an antiviral ointment or cream to help lessen your symptoms and help them go away faster, but it only works if you start it soon after you start an outbreak. Many people with HSV-2 take daily oral medications to keep outbreaks at bay.
Your provider may prescribe a topical medication or oral medication such as:
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Genital Herpes: The Painful Facts About A Tricky Virus
There are two main types of herpes simplex virus infections, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Generally speaking, HSV-1 is responsible for those annoying cold sores that can pop up during times of stress or lack of sleep. Genital sores are usually caused by HSV-2. Many people dont realize that HSV-1 can cause genital ulcers as well, though these tend to be less severe and less likely to recur.
It can take as little as a few days and up to a week after a person has been exposed before any herpes symptoms appear. First, there will be redness and tingling, followed by small painful bumps that progress to fluid-filled “blisters.” Eventually, these burst to form shallow skin ulcers which then crust over, with gradual healing over a couple weeks. An initial genital herpes infection can be very painful, also cause fever, body aches and fatigue. Recurrent outbreaks tend to cause less severe symptoms. Rarely a genital herpes infection can cause inflammation of the membrane that covers the brain .
Risk For Genital Herpes
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 1 in 6 Americans ages 14 to 49 years have genital herpes. While HSV-2 remains the main cause of genital herpes, HSV-1 has significantly increased as a cause, most likely because of oral-genital sex. Except for people in monogamous relationships with uninfected partners, everyone who is sexually active is at risk for genital herpes.
Risk factors for genital herpes include:
- History of an STD
- First sexual intercourse at an early age
- High number of sexual partners
- Low socioeconomic status
Women are more susceptible to HSV-2 infection because herpes is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men. About 1 in 5 women, compared to 1 in 9 men, have genital herpes. African-American women are at particularly high risk.
People with compromised immune systems, such as those who have HIV, are at very high risk for genital herpes. These people are also at risk for more severe complications from herpes. Drugs that suppress the immune system, and organ transplantation, can also weaken the immune system and increase the risk for contracting genital herpes.
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Condoms Reduce Womens Risk Of Herpes Infection But Do Not Protect Men
Using condoms during sexual intercourse significantly decreases the likelihood that men infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 will transmit the infection to their female partners, according to the first study to examine the effectiveness of condoms in preventing this infection.1Women are almost six times as likely as men to acquire HSV-2. Increased frequency of sexual intercourse, younger age and having a partner who is infected with both herpes simplex virus type 1 and HSV-2 increase the likelihood of acquiring HSV-2. Although using condoms more than 25% of the time offers women a high degree of protection against acquiring HSV-2, men do not receive the same benefits.
Overall, 528 couples were included in the study. Of the susceptible partners, 267 were women and 261 were men, with a median age of 36 years. Ninety-two percent were white, and 98% were in a heterosexual relationship. Participants median frequency of intercourse was twice weekly half said that they had used condoms no more than 10% of the time since becoming sexually active. Of the source partners, 62% were seropositive for only HSV-2, while 38% were seropositive for both HSV-1 and HSV-2.
During the studys observation period, 31 of the 528 susceptible partners acquired HSV-2: 26 of the women and five of the men. Women acquired the virus at a rate of 8.9 per 10,000 sex actsalmost six times the rate of men .
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- What is the best treatment for me?
- Are there any side effects to my treatment?
- Is it safe to have unprotected sex if I dont have any sores?
- Can I give myself genital herpes if I also have oral herpes?
- Can I give someone else herpes even if Im not having an outbreak?
- What is the best way to prevent herpes outbreaks?
- Can I live a normal life with herpes?
- Am I at risk of developing any other diseases?
- Are there any support groups in my area?
- If I give my baby herpes, what is the treatment?
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Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes- as long as there is no open lesion on chest or breast . If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
Diagnosis Of Frequent Or Painful Urination
The physician will study the symptoms and take a complete medical history to determine the cause of the frequent or painful urination. He or she may order additional tests, such as:
- A laboratory examines and tests a urine sample to determine its contents and whether infection is present.
- Cystometry or Urodynamics. This measures the pressure within the bladder and assesses how well the bladder is working. This test allows physicians to understand if nerve or muscle problems may be interfering with bladder function.
- Using a thin, lighted instrument called a cystoscope, the physician can view inside the urethra and bladder to look for physical problems.
- Neurological tests. A physician might request tests to confirm or eliminate the possibility of a nerve disorder that affects bladder function.
- This imaging test uses sound waves to make a picture of the organs inside the body to check for issues affecting urinary function.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex
Many people with the infection never experience any herpes symptoms. If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a repeat outbreak. Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.
People who do have herpes symptoms may experience:
- Cold sores around their lips, mouth or tongue. They may look crusty or like fluid-filled blisters.
- Tingling, itching or burning.
- Pain while urinating.