What Is Recurrent Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. The first signs of infection are small lumps, then blisters which quickly turn into painful sores a few millimetres across. The sores can last for 5 to 10 days and in a first episode there is often a mild flu-like illness with fever, lethargy, and irritability. Sometimes a flu-like illness can develop without typical genital ulceration and sometimes there is also a vaginal or urethral discharge. The sores will eventually heal, even with no treatment. The virus is not gone but remains quietly in nerve cells close to the original infection – it is this virus which can then break out again and cause a recurrence of symptoms. Symptoms are usually less severe in subsequent episodes. Sores in a totally different area are not likely to be linked to the original outbreak and should be checked again by a doctor.
Can I Get Genital Herpes Again
As there are two types of herpes virus it is possible to pick up the other one, however after infection with the other type, there are usually very few symptoms. Most cases of another bout of herpes will be from the dormant virus reactivating, travelling to the surface from the nerves and causing new sores.
Im Pregnant What Do I Need To Know
To get the best care, tell your doctor you have genital herpes, because it could make you more likely to have a miscarriage or give birth too soon.
Its possible to pass along the virus to your baby. For infants, it can be life-threatening. Your doctor can talk to you about how to lower the chances that this will happen.
If you have an outbreak while youre pregnant, your doctor can give you medicine to treat your symptoms and stop them sooner.
Your doctor may give you a drug to prevent an outbreak as your due date gets closer. This is because your baby could get herpes by passing through your birth canal if youre having an outbreak when you go into labor. If thats a possibility, your doctor will most likely want to do a C-section, which is surgery to deliver the baby.
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:
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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What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes
Many people with genital herpes wonât get any symptoms, or may get symptoms for the first time months or even years after they were infected.
For most people, the first blisters go away within a month. Although the outbreaks clear-up by themselves, the virus stays in the body. This means that people usually get blisters again â which is called having a ârecurrent outbreakâ. Outbreaks usually become shorter and less severe over time.
Other symptoms can include:
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How Do You Get Herpes
There are two different herpes viruses: Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 .
While rare, a mother can pass genital herpes to the baby during vaginal childbirth.
Herpes is most easily transmitted when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also shed and be passed to others when there are no sores and the skin looks totally normal. Most people get herpes from someone who does not have any sores. When used consistently and correctly, condoms help protect against herpes and many other STDs.
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How To Treat Herpes Scars
If you do end up with scarring from herpes sores, you may be able to reduce their appearance with home treatments. Keep in mind that many scars fade gradually on their own, even without treatment.
Be aware that evidence for the effectiveness of these treatments is mostly anecdotal. Theres little clinical evidence to support these claims.
Home treatments for herpes scars include:
- Vitamin E. You can purchase vitamin E in gel caps in the vitamin section of your drug store or online. Pierce the capsule with a needle and squeeze out the liquid. Rub the liquid on the scar, massaging gently for three to five minutes. Repeat this daily as long as you see results.
- Coconut oil. Some claim that coconut oil can help to reduce scarring over time, though research is mixed. To use coconut oil on your herpes scar, heat the oil in the microwave, making sure its not too hot. Gently massage the oil into the scar and the area directly around it. Repeat one to two times per day until youre satisfied with the change.
- Aloe vera. This cooling product may be commonly associated with burns, but it may also help ease scarring. Apply the gel directly to the scars. Leave it on for 30 minutes, then rinse with warm water and soap.
These home remedies for scarring usually wont get rid of a scar completely.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
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When To Call The Doctor
Even though HSV sores can hurt and be unsightly, most cases of herpes do not cause serious illness. The sores go away in a few days. Contact the health provider if:
- Sores are present and you think it might be a first herpes infection. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the sores. If the sores have not healed, sometimes a laboratory test is done.
- Sores do not heal by themselves or show signs of infection such as pus, spreading redness or fever.
- Sores are near the eyes.
- You have another health condition with a weakened immune system.
Treatment For Genital Herpes
There are three antiviral medications that are FDA-approved for the treatment of genital herpes:
- Acyclovir: The oldest antiviral medication for herpes is acyclovir. It has been available since 1982 in a topical form and sold since 1985 in pill form. Acyclovir has been shown to be safe in persons who have used it continuously for as long as 10 years.
- Valacyclovir: A newer drug, valacyclovir, actually uses acyclovir as its active ingredient. This medication delivers acyclovir more efficiently so that the body absorbs much of the drug, which has the advantage of taking the medication fewer times during the day.
- Famciclovir: Famciclovir uses penciclovir as its active ingredient to stop HSV from replicating. Like valacyclovir, it is well absorbed, persists for a longer time in the body, and can be taken less frequently than acyclovir.
Antiviral medication is commonly prescribed for patients having a first episode of genital herpes, but they can be used for recurrent episodes as well. There are two kinds of treatment regimens: episodic therapy and suppressive therapy.
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Can You Get Herpes On Your Tongue
While you may associate herpes type 1 with cold sores on your lips, it is possible to suffer from the symptoms of herpes on your tongue. This is referred to as oral herpes and usually affects more of your mouth than just your tongue. More than half of all adults in the United States are thought to have oral herpes.
Black And Hispanic Communities And Genital Herpes
Black Americans and Hispanic Americans have higher rates of STDs generally when compared with white Americans. This isnt because of ethnicity or race instead, social conditions such as poverty, lack of access to healthcare, and fear of discrimination from doctors and other healthcare providers all play part in the disparity.
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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.
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 herpes simplex virus 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.Treatment for primary herpes simplex virus infection includes the following oral antiviral medications:
- Acyclovir pills
- Oral antibiotic pills if the areas are also infected with bacteria
- Oral antifungal pills if the areas are also infected with yeast
- Topical anesthetic cream, such as lidocaine ointment, to reduce pain
- Acyclovir pills
- Valacyclovir pills
- Famciclovir pills
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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.
Reduce Your Risk Of Exposure To Eye Herpes
There are no clear ways to prevent the spread of herpes keratitis, but there are some steps you can take to keep your eyes safe.
- If you have cold sores, avoid touching your eyes. Wash your hands after you touch your lips during an outbreak to prevent spreading the virus to other areas.
- Do not share eye drops or eye makeup with others. The herpes virus can be transferred this way.
- Keep your contact lenses clean, as recommended by your optometrist. If you experience a herpes outbreak, throw out that pair of contacts.
If you are cautious, you can avoid transferring the virus to other areas of your body. It does take vigilance during outbreaks.
In the first year after contracting eye herpes, 20 percent of people will experience a recurrence of symptoms. If outbreaks become frequent, they can be managed with regular, often daily, medication. Otherwise, your doctor will prescribe medication that you will take only as needed, during your less frequent outbreaks.
For some people, the outbreaks are more frequent and more severe initially. Then, they stabilize over time and become less frequent.
While you may never need medication to treat eye herpes, it is important to get an appropriate diagnosis if you experience the symptoms listed above. Having more than one outbreak puts you at risk for scarring inside your cornea and other parts of your eye, which can lead to serious vision loss over time.
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How Can I Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
If you have lots of herpes outbreaks, your doctor may tell you to take medicine every day this is called suppressive therapy. It can help prevent future herpes outbreaks, and lower your chances of giving herpes to your partners.
Whether or not you take medicine to treat herpes, taking care of yourself by eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress might help keep future outbreaks from popping up.
No one knows for sure what triggers genital herpes outbreaks. Other infections, surgery, sex, your period, skin irritations, and stress may cause outbreaks. Sunburns, injuries to your lips, or other infections can cause oral herpes flare-ups. Try to avoid getting sunburned if you have oral herpes.
Genital herpes outbreaks usually happen less often and become shorter and weaker after a few years whether or not you get treated.
How Can I Protect My Sex Partners
You can take steps to protect others from herpes. Keep in mind that you can spread it even when you dont have symptoms.
Avoid sex during outbreaks: Youre more likely to give your partner herpes while you have an outbreak. Avoid sexual contact from the time you notice the first signs, such as tingling or pain, until the scabs fall off and your skin is back to normal.
Try not to touch your sores: If you do, wash your hands right away. A good cleaning may stop the spread to another part of your body or to your partner.
Use condoms: They wont totally protect your partner, but they can lower the chances of spreading the virus.
Talk to your doctor: They might prescribe a drug to make it less likely youll give herpes to someone else. As with condoms, the medicine wont 100% protect your partner.
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What Is Herpes Simplex Virus
HSV is a virus that can cause painful ulcers in your mouth or on your genitals. There are two main herpes simplex viruses HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 infections most commonly affect your mouth, but they may also result in sores on your genitals. HSV-2, on the other hand, primarily affects your genitals. In the U.S., over 50% of adults have HSV-1, and 15% of sexually active people have HSV-2.
Once youve been infected with HSV, the virus stays in your body long term, causing sores or blisters to appear periodically . In rare cases, it can cause life-threatening infections like meningitis and encephalitis.
When you think of herpesviruses, HSV is likely what comes to mind. But both types of HSV are actually part of a larger family of herpesviruses, including:
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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.