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.
Whos At Risk For Shingles
Anyone who has ever had chickenpox can get shingles, but the risk increases with age. People older than age 60 are up to 10 times more likely to get shingles than younger people. Other factors that increase your risk include:
- Some cancer medicines
- A weak immune system from illnesses such as cancer or HIV
A quarter of adults will develop shingles at some point, and most are otherwise healthy.
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing theyâll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
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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 Are The Other Symptoms Of A Herpes Outbreak
If you are experiencing the first outbreak of herpes, you are most likely to experience signs and symptoms that may include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- People who experience a herpes outbreak for the first time may develop the lesions 4 to 20 days after getting exposed to the virus.
After the initial infection, the herpes virus stays inactive in the nerves. It has a tendency to get reactivated and emerge as a new sore in certain situations. It is the reactivation that leads to the recurring outbreaks of herpes. Thankfully, consequent outbreaks after the first infection are usually associated with symptoms that are milder even blisters heal faster than before.
Outbreaks may be triggered by different things stress, other illness, fatigue, hormone changes that occur during the menstrual cycle, or anything affecting your immune system, though anything can trigger an outbreak, and sometimes you may not know the trigger.
If you touch sores present in your mouth or genitals and then touch other places in the body, you can transmit the infection to those places one such example is herpes infection in the eyes. Children have a greater tendency to spread the virus from oral sores to their fingertips when they suck their thumbs. Once you have an established infection, and your body has produced antibodies, the chances of this happening are very low.
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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.
How To Recognize Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a very common sexually transmitted disease . It is so common that many people, when they find any skin lesion around the genital areas, are likely to think that it is herpes. They are not entirely wrong to think that way. Genital herpes is the main cause of genital ulcers worldwide.1 And the condition is usually associated with a stigma that can itself cause anxiety and even depression2 and might influence the affected personÃ¢s decision to disclose the infection to others or seek care.3
A genital sore is not great news regardless of what is causing it. However, many other conditions causing genital sores have a prognosis different from that of herpes. Some can be worse, but others, unlike herpes,4 can be completely cured. ThatÃ¢s why weÃ¢re beginning this article with an explanation of how to recognize genital herpes and differentiate it from other genital skin lesions.
A sleeping virus
The herpes virus is known for staying Ã¢asleepÃ¢ in the body for a long time without showing symptoms. This feature is called latency: once the virus infects a person, after an initial phase that does not necessarily manifest with symptoms, it remains hidden in the body for many years, reactivating every now and then.4 Its reactivation is usually triggered by weakness of the immune system, such as in times of sustained stress, accumulated fatigue, heavy physical activity, or fever, but may not have any apparent cause.5, 6
Herpes skin lesions
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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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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Typical Healing Of Genital Herpes Sores
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DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND
In addition to pain, the oozing sores will often have a âfishyâ smell in both females and males. The smell can increase after sex due to the abrasion of skin on skin.
The timeline of a genital herpes outbreak can vary. With primary herpes, the outbreak will usually occur within four days of exposure to the virus .
A genital herpes outbreak may last up to seven to 10 days, particularly with the first outbreak. After crusting, healing usually occurs within two to four weeks, typically with no scarring.
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How Do You Know If You Have Genital Herpes
The only way to know if you have genital herpes is by amedical exam. Your health care provider can examineyou and test for it. Lab samples are taken from a sore,blister, or blood. Your health care provider may ask totest you for other infections at the same time.
Tell current and most recent sex partners of your herpes infection.
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Herpes Encephalitis And Meningitis
Herpes simplex encephalitis is inflammation of the brain caused by either HSV-1 or HSV-2. It is a rare but extremely serious brain disease. Untreated, herpes encephalitis is fatal most of the time. Respiratory arrest can occur within the first 24 to 72 hours. Fortunately, rapid diagnostic tests and treatment with acyclovir have significantly improved survival rates and reduced complication rates. Nearly all who recover have some impairment, ranging from very mild neurological changes to paralysis.
Herpes simplex meningitis is inflammation of the membranes that line the brain and spinal cord. It is mainly caused by HSV-2. Like encephalitis, meningitis symptoms include headache, fever, stiff neck, vomiting, and sensitivity to light. Fortunately, herpes meningitis usually resolves after about a week without complications, although symptoms can recur.
What Are The Herpes Outbreak Stages
- Lauren Stuttaford
Herpes, otherwise known as the herpes simplex virus, is categorized into two types: herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 .
The first is mainly transmitted through oral-to-oral contact causing oral herpes but can also cause genital herpes. While HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted infection that causes genital herpes. Both types of the infection are lifelong.
A person infected with herpes, whether oral or genital, might show no symptoms or could progress through the different herpes outbreak stages from blister development to herps healing. However, most herpes infections are asymptomatic.
According to the World Health Organization , an estimated 3.7 billion people under 50 years old have HSV-1 infection globally, and an estimated 491 million people between the ages of 15-49 have HSV-2 infection worldwide.
Astonishingly, the virus causing genital herpes or HSV-2 increases the risk of contracting and transmitting HIV, putting millions at greater risk of contracting an HIV infection.
Lets take a closer look at the herpes outbreak stages.
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Can Genital Herpes Only Cause One Sore
A single herpes bump looks like a pimple, or irritation on the surface of the skin. Although herpes is commonly identified by a honeycomb, or cluster pattern of red and raised bumps, a single bump is possible, especially early on in the blister stage of a flare-up, or in mild cases. If a single sore is accompanied by other symptoms, it may be a good idea to carry out a herpes test.
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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Which Genital Herpes Stage Is Safest For Sex
Genital herpes spreads mainly through sexual contact, and it can be contagious even between outbreaks due to asymptomatic shedding.
Theres no genital herpes stage that completely eliminates the possibility of infecting your partner with the virus, but herpes is more contagious in some stages than others. The primary infection stage and the blister stage are the two most highly contagious herpes phases. Its important to avoid all sexual and intimate contact during these times.
The latent stage of genital herpes, however, is the safest. Its still possible to transmit herpes to your partner with asymptomatic shedding, so you will still need to take precautions. But this stage is far less risky than others.
Atypical Forms Of Genital Herpes
Atypical forms occur obliterated, in the form of chronic inflammation of the external and internal genitalia . The diagnosis is based on laboratory confirmation of the presence of herpes infection. Atypical forms of genital herpes account for more than half of clinical cases 65%.
The atypical form is characterized by mild swelling, areas of erythema, small-point vesicles, persistent burning and itching, abundant, not amenable to therapy, white. With a prolonged course, there is an increase and soreness of the inguinal lymph nodes.
According to the localization of herpetic rashes , there are 3 stages:
- Stage I affects the external genitalia
- Stage III affects the uterus, appendages, bladder, prostate.
The higher the herpetic infection penetrates the genitourinary tract, the more serious the prognosis. An advanced form of genital herpes can lead to a state of immunodeficiency, and in women it increases the risk of infertility, cervical cancer. HSV is dangerous for people with weakened immunity , and who have undergone organ transplantation surgery.
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Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body
The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.
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Is Shingles Contagious
Yes, but not in the way you may think. Your shingles rash will not trigger an outbreak of shingles in another person, but it can sometimes cause chickenpox in a child. People whoâve never had chickenpox, or the vaccine to prevent it, can pick up the virus by direct contact with the open sores of shingles. So keep a shingles rash covered and avoid contact with infants, as well as pregnant women who have never had chickenpox or the varicella vaccine and people who may have weak immune systems such as chemotherapy patients.
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What About Pregnancy
A pregnant woman who has genital herpes can passthe virus to her baby. A baby born with herpes might:
- Have brain, skin, or eye problems
If you are pregnant, you should tell your health careprovider if you have herpes. If you show any signs ofherpes during pregnancy, tell your provider. Pregnancycan be managed safely if your health care providerknows about your herpes. Medicines can help babiesborn with herpes if they are treated right away.
What You Can Eat
If youre avoiding foods that may cause herpes outbreaks, that doesnt mean a boring diet. Many nutritious and delicious whole foods, such as grass-fed beef, fish, poultry, dairy products, beans, eggs and most brightly colored fruits and vegetables, have a high ratio of lysine to arginine and should make up the bulk of your meals. Picozzi also cites the benefits of foods like mushrooms, sea vegetables and garlic for managing herpes outbreaks naturally.
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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, theres 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.
Its higher if you get genital herpes for the first time in pregnancy.
How Can I Manage The Symptoms
- Keep the area clean to avoid infection. You can use an ice pack wrapped in a towel to reduce pain and soothe your skin.
- Some people find topical anaesthetic creams such as Emla help
- Drink plenty of fluids – this will dilute your urine and make passing urine less painful.
- Avoid tight clothing as it may irritate the blisters and sores further.
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Cold Sore On Lip Or Herpes Simplex Labialis
Cold sores is a common viral infection usually caused by herpes simplex virus . HSV-1 causes both herpes of the mouth and genital herpes. However, HSV type 2 mostly affects the genitals in many people who get diagnosed of genital herpes.
The early signs of a herpes simplex virus infection on the lips are burning and stinging sensation, itching, soreness and tautness.
The second stage is marked by tight and itch. The affected area may become red and look swollen.
The third stage of cold sore on lips is blister stage. A clear picture of cold sore infection on the lips is depicted by small or tiny clusters or multiple fluid-filled blisters presented with blistering on skin.
After about 4 days, the blisters rapture or burst to let out fluid. This leads to the ulcer stage. This is the most painful stage of cold sores on lip. This stage is marked by inflammation with characteristic red rings around the area where blisters had formed.
Moving on, we have the scabbing stage after 1 week or so. The cold sore ulcers will then begin to dry out hence formation of scabs. The affected area tends to shrink and appear with little cracks that would cause pain. Sometimes itching can worsen.
Finally, as the scabs heal they would come off leaving a dry and flaky-looking skin. If the right measures are not taken during these stages, your skin around cold sores may look slightly red or pinkish.