Can I Treat Herpes Simplex At Home
Avoiding known triggers, such as illness or stress, can help reduce how often you have herpes outbreaks.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-1 ?
- Over-the-counter creams such as L-lysine, benzocaine or docosanol .
- Applying ice to blisters or sores.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-2 ?
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep your 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.
- Topical 1% or 2% lidocaine may be used as a topical analgesic.
Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
Women with herpes before pregnancy can usually expect to have a healthy baby and a vaginal delivery.
If you have genital herpes during pregnancy, there’s a risk your baby could develop a serious illness called neonatal herpes.
This can be fatal, but most babies recover with antiviral treatment.
The risk of your baby getting neonatal herpes is low if you have had genital herpes before.
It’s higher if you get genital herpes for the first time in pregnancy.
Herpes Simplex Vs Chickenpox
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Getty Images / AlesVeluscek
With the chickenpox, note that each blister in this photo has its own red base and is not clustered in a group like HSV.
And, unlike HSV, a chickenpox rash can leave behind scars after it heals.
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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?
How To Prevent An Outbreak
Some people only take their medications if they feel the itching and tingling that means an outbreak is coming on — or when sores show up — to stop it from getting worse. Your doctor may suggest you take an antiviral every day if you:
- Have lots of outbreaks
- Want to prevent more outbreaks
- Want to lower the risk of spreading it to your partner
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Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
How To Manage The First Outbreak
They can be extremely painful, and its important to see a doctor in case you need a prescription like Valocyclovir or Acyclovir. The sooner you start taking it, the more likely you are to curb the outbreak.
Unfortunately, no drug cures the condition. However, if you receive anti-viral medications promptly, you might experience the following benefits:
- Speedy recovery
- Fewer chances of future outbreaks
- A decrease in the severity of symptoms
Here are a few more self-care tips on how to deal with the symptoms:
- Consider taking an over-the-counter pain-killer like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches and fever.
- Apply cold compresses on the area. This will help with the burning, inflammation, and itching.
- Clean the sores regularly. This will speed the recovery.
To sum up, the first herpes outbreak can be challenging to deal with, especially if you are experimenting with your sexuality. However, proper self-care and promptly seeking expert help can ensure speedy recovery.
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What Should You Do If You Have Herpes
Herpes is contagious at all stages. It is most contagious when blisters burst and release their fluid.
If you have herpes, you should take precautions to avoid its spread to other parts of your body and to other people. Here is what you should do.
- Use protection such as condoms and dental dams during sex .
During an outbreak:
- refrain from sexual activity
- Avoid touching the infected region
- Avoid deep kissing
- Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, soaps and cosmetics with others.
- Wash your hands with mild soap or clean them with alcohol-based sanitizer before touching yourself or others.
- Starting antiviral medications at the onset of an outbreak can reduce the intensity of symptoms by about 70 percent
You can resume sexual activity once the outbreak resolves.
Remember, genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease . Sores may be painful or may cause you discomfort. However, the disease is not deadly and rarely causes serious complications. Therefore, do not panic if you are diagnosed with it. There is no cure for herpes but certain over the counter and prescription medications from a doctor can help reduce the severity of symptoms and cause the sores to heal faster. Practice safer sex to the reduce risk of contracting herpes.
For any additional concerns about herpes, do not hesitate to ask your doctor.
How Long After A Herpes Outbreak Is It Still Contagious
You are most contagious right before, and during an outbreak, when the viral load is at its highest. It can take a few weeks for sores to completely heal, and for the virus to become dormant. When the virus lays dormant in your body, there is a much lower chance of passing herpes on to sexual partners. Because of the nature of the virus, itâs not possible to know whether you are contagious or not. Even after an outbreak has healed, there is no way to know if another one is on the way. If it is, you will be contagious. If your outbreaks follow a pattern of when they appear, you may have an indication as to whether or not an outbreak is likely. However, this is not accurate. Although you may not be displaying symptoms, you may be contagious. Over time, a person who has had herpes for a long time is less contagious than a person who has recently been infected.
Whilst all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it is not intended to be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please speak to your doctor.
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What Does Genital Herpes Look Like
Many people who have genital herpes dont show symptoms, or the symptoms are so mild they dont notice them so they might not even know they have it. When herpes does cause symptoms, the most common one is sores and blisters that show up on the parts of your body where the infection lives. This is called an outbreak.
How Do People Get Genital Herpes
Infections are transmitted through contact with HSV in herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. 5 HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be shed from normal-appearing oral or genital mucosa or skin. 7,8 Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However, receiving oral sex from a person with an oral HSV-1 infection can result in getting a genital HSV-1 infection. 4 Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected. 7 In persons with asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, genital HSV shedding occurs on 10.2% of days, compared to 20.1% of days among those with symptomatic infections. 8
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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
Herpes And Newborn Infants
Herpes infection in a newborn can cause a range of symptoms, including skin rash, fevers, mouth sores, and eye infections. If left untreated, neonatal herpes is a very serious and even life-threatening condition. Neonatal herpes can spread to the brain and central nervous system, causing encephalitis and meningitis. It also can lead to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and death. Herpes can also spread to internal organs, such as the liver and lungs.
Infants infected with herpes are treated with acyclovir, an antiviral drug. They usually receive several weeks of intravenous acyclovir treatment, often followed by several months of oral acyclovir. It is important to treat babies quickly, before the infection spreads to the brain and other organs.
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How Do I Talk To My Sex Partners
Telling them about your condition can be hard. Take some time to learn what you can and understand your own feelings first. You may be more at ease to talk openly.
Some people you tell might not think its such a big deal. Others will have strong feelings about it.
You cant control how anyone else reacts. All you can do is share what you know, answer questions, and give them time to think about it.
Suppressive Therapy For Recurrences
To suppress outbreaks, treatment requires taking pills daily on a long-term basis. Acyclovir and famciclovir are taken twice a day for suppression. Valacyclovir is taken once a day. The doses for these antiviral drugs are reduced in people with impaired renal function.
Suppressive treatment can reduce the frequency of outbreak recurrences by 70% to 80%. It is generally recommended for people who have frequent recurrences . Because herpes recurrences often diminish over time, you should discuss annually with your provider whether you should stay with drug therapy or discontinue it.
There is some evidence that valacyclovir may help prevent herpes transmission, particularly in situations where one heterosexual partner has HSV-2 and the other partner does not. However, this drug does not completely prevent transmission. While taking any suppressive therapy for genital herpes, it is still important to regularly use latex condoms and to avoid any sexual activity during recurrences.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Herpes
Some risk factors for herpes may include:
-Having unprotected sex
-Having sex with multiple partners
-Kissing someone with a herpes virus that is active
-Abuse of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs
-Spreading the virus by touching a cold sore and then touching something else
-Having an autoimmune disorder or illness, such as hepatitis or HIV/AIDS
-Poor eating habits that cause nutritional deficiencies
What Does Herpes Look Like
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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:
Someone who has contracted the virus will usually have their first sores, or an outbreak, between 2 and 20 days later. The sores may last up to a week or 10 days.
An outbreak may involve a single sore or a cluster of sores. They often affect the skin around the mouth, the genitals, or the rectum. The blisters can take between 2 and 4 weeks to heal.
The symptoms will usually reappear from time to time, though they do not tend to be as severe as the first time.
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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%.
What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Women
Like men, women who have HSV-1 or HSV-2 may have no symptoms or signs of the infection. Some women may only have an initial outbreak and no other recurring symptoms. Others may have chronic recurring outbreaks of the herpes virus, and some women may not have an outbreak for months or even years after they have first been infected.
In the first herpes outbreak, symptoms usually start within 2 weeks of contracting the virus. The initial symptoms may include:
-Around the buttocks or thighs
-Inside the cervix or urinary tract
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Use This Treatment To Speed Up Healing
Traditional genital herpes treatment options dont always offer the lasting relief you need, especially during a painful outbreak. Thats why the Luminance RED stands out from other over-the-counter genital herpes treatments.
The Luminance RED is an FDA-registered device you can use to shine medically-optimized wavelengths of light on herpes sores or in areas where sores often form. High-powered, optimized wavelengths of light can shorten the healing time and reduce the pain of genital sores.
For example, clinical data shows that high-powered light treatment reduces healing time from 8.2 days to 1.8 days and extends the time before the next recurrence from 124 days to 455 days!
Treatment with light is a proven and simple way to discreetly take control of your genital herpes.
When To Seek Medical Care
If you develop new painful sores in or around the genitals, see a physician as soon as possible because treatment is much more effective if started early.Recurrent outbreaks of genital HSV usually do not require a visit to the doctor. However, because some people have milder forms of herpes, you should also see a doctor for any recurring rash in the genital area, even if you think it is from bug bites, jock itch, or any other condition.If you have an underlying medical condition such as cancer or HIV, if you have undergone organ transplantation, or if you are pregnant, you are at higher risk for more serious complications from genital herpes. Seek medical advice as soon as possible if you develop any lesions.Genital herpes can also be passed to a newborn baby during delivery through contact with a lesion in the mother’s genital tract. Be sure to speak with your obstetrician about the possible risk to your baby if you have genital herpes.
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How To Reduce Your Risk Of Getting An Std
If you have any symptoms of genital herpes or any other STD, see your doctor or go to a sexual health clinic. Your doctor will know what tests to give you to detect any STDs you may have. And if youre sexually active, get screened regularly and always practice safe sex.
How To Tell If Its A Yeast Infection Or Herpes
Vaginal yeast infections are very common up to 75 percent of women will experience this fungal infection in their lifetime, and many will have more than one, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Most vaginal yeast infections are caused by the fungus candida albicans. The naturally contains a balanced mix of yeast, which includes candida, and bacteria. But an overgrowth of candida or penetration of the fungus into deeper vaginal cell layers can cause a yeast infection, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Symptoms of a yeast infection include:
- A burning sensation, particularly during intercourse or urination
- Redness and swelling of the vulva
- Thick, white, odorless vaginal discharge that looks like cottage cheese
- Watery vaginal discharge
While a vaginal yeast infection isnt considered a sexually transmitted infection and is not contagious, there is an increased risk of getting a vaginal yeast infection when you first start having regular sex. Sexual contact can sometimes cause a yeast infection, if you have a bad reaction to another persons natural genital yeast and bacteria, according to Planned Parenthood. Infections may also be linked to oral sex, notes the Mayo Clinic.
Antibiotics, pregnancy, diabetes, an impaired immune system, certain oral contraceptives, and hormone therapy can also cause an overgrowth of fungus, which can lead to a yeast infection.
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