Is There Treatment For Herpes
Yes. Your HCP can prescribe medications that quicken healing, make symptoms less painful, and lower the risk of getting outbreaks. These medications dont kill the virus and dont guarantee you wont get outbreaks in the future. Even when you dont have any symptoms, the virus is in the body and can flare up. However, the flare ups and outbreaks of sores usually become fewer and less severe as time goes on. Outbreaks can be prevented or treated early with anti-viral medication to lessen symptoms.
How Can Males Test For Herpes
Symptoms of herpes in men can be difficult to put down to herpes. This is because signs of herpes can often overlap with other STIs. Consideration should be taken if irritation or redness begins to develop in the genital areas. One should ask a healthcare provider for an examination in the event of symptoms or after coming into contact with someone infected with an STI.
It is likely that your healthcare provider will ask you to carry out a genital herpes test, which involves taking a swab from an open sore. The accuracy of results is determined by the quality of the sample. Symptoms of herpes in men must be prevalent in order to ascertain a positive test result, as asymptomatic individuals will not have blisters from which a sample can be taken. The male herpes test does not differ from methods utilised by women in determining HSV-2 infection.
If you are not able to get a quick appointment with your doctor, you may wish to take a picture of your herpes sores. If you are waiting a few weeks for an appointment, there is a good chance that the outbreak will have healed by then so pictures are a good way to help your doctor to make an accurate diagnosis.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- 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 look out for signs of complications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Millions of people are living with the herpes virus that causes genital herpes. Its a common STI. You shouldnt be embarrassed or put off seeking medical care if you develop symptoms. Treatments can ease symptoms, reduce outbreaks and protect sexual partners from infection. Having the virus shouldnt affect your relationships or sexual health. However, you do need to tell your sexual partners that you have the virus. Your healthcare provider can discuss ways to prevent spreading this STI.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/01/2021.
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How Is It Treated
Genital herpes can be treated, but it cannot be cured.Anti-viral medicines can make outbreaks:
Living with genital herpes causes some people to:
- Feel embarrassed or ashamed
- Worry about infecting a sexual partner
- Worry that having herpes will affect relationships with sexual partners
- Avoid dating or sexual relationships
Most people with herpes are able to live with the virusand manage their outbreaks. Talking to trusted healthcare providers and friends can help. Your health careprovider can talk to you about medicines that treatoutbreaks and about ways to reduce the chance ofpassing the virus on to a sexual partner.
Medicines can help lower the chance that you will pass the virus to others.
What Causes Or Triggers Genital Herpes Outbreaks
Although the cause is unknown, outbreaks are often associated with periods of weakened immune systems, skin wounds, menstruation, fever, nerve damage, tissue damage from surgery, or exposure to extreme climate situations. A genital herpes outbreak or episode occurs when the HSV-1 or HSV-2 virus is reactivated from its dormant stage. Genital herpes is an incurable disease, and once you contract it, you may experience outbreaks throughout your lifetime. Those who are experiencing their first herpes episode of genital herpes can expect to have several outbreaks within a year. Over time these recurrences usually decrease in frequency and severity. The first outbreak of herpes is often the longest outbreak experienced. After that, short and inconsistent episodes can be managed and treated with antiviral medication.
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Is There Any Resistance To Genital Herpes Medication
Resistance to drugs that treat genital herpes even after 20 years of use is very rare. Herpes medications may not work as well in patients who are very immunosuppressed and have been treated with these drugs for a long time. Each individuals response to treatment may vary. In some cases, patients may need more drugs to suppress their viral outbreaks than others.
What Causes Symptoms To Come Back
When symptoms recur, they usually come on during times of emotional stress or illness. That’s because, during these times, your body’s immune system may be less able to suppress the virus and keep it from becoming active.
Symptom triggers can include:
- Interfere with a person’s sense of security and intimacy
In some cases, though, complications from genital herpes can be serious, even life-threatening.
Although it’s rare, pregnant women can pass on the herpes infection to their child. This can result in a serious and sometimes deadly infection in the baby. That’s why taking steps to prevent an outbreak at time of delivery is recommended starting at 34 weeks into the pregnancy. If you have signs of an active viral infection when it’s time to deliver, your doctor will likely recommend a cesarean section for delivery.
If you have any reason to believe you may have an HSV infection as the result of a sexual encounter — either genital or oral — contact your health care provider.
How Often Will I Have Outbreaks
Once infected with genital herpes you may have an outbreak in your first few weeks after exposure or it may take years to cause an outbreak. It is common for genital herpes patients to have 5-6 outbreaks a year, although management with various treatments can bring that number down.
Over time the human body is able to adapt to the infection and the number of outbreaks, as well as their severity, will decrease.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby
Neonatal herpes is one of the most serious complications of genital herpes.5,16 Healthcare providers should ask all pregnant women if they have a history of genital herpes.11 Herpes infection can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth, or babies may be infected shortly after birth, resulting in a potentially fatal neonatal herpes infection. 17 Infants born to women who acquire genital herpes close to the time of delivery and are shedding virus at delivery are at a much higher risk for developing neonatal herpes, compared with women who have recurrent genital herpes . 16,18-20 Thus, it is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. Women should be counseled to abstain from intercourse during the third trimester with partners known to have or suspected of having genital herpes. 5,11
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Herpes Simplex 2 Photo Gallery
The Herpes Simplex 2 Photo Gallery below shows what typical symptoms look like. Herpes Simplex 2 is also known as HSV 2 or Genital Herpes. Although it is predominantly contracted on the genital region, this strain can be on any part of the body.
Please be warned some of the Herpes Simplex 2 photos in this gallery are graphic in nature and viewer discretion is advised.
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Do Condoms Help Prevent The Spread Of Genital Herpes
Yes. To prevent transmission of herpes, we recommend that condoms be used 100% of the time. Many patients will shed the virus and be contagious when they dont have symptoms. Studies have shown that asymptomatic shedding occurs between 1% and 3% of the time in patients with HSV II genital infections. Many new herpes infections occur from partners who are shedding the virus asymptomatically, so condoms are highly recommended.
Condoms may not be an attractive option for monogamous couples or for couples who desire to become pregnant. Couples may opt to have serological tests to determine if either partner has an asymptomatic infection. In close monogamous relationships, the risks of transmission can be weighed against other relationship issues, such as intimacy and pregnancy.
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How Is Herpes Simplex Treated
Although there is no cure for herpes, treatments can relieve the symptoms. Medication can decrease the pain related to an outbreak and can shorten healing time. They can also decrease the total number of outbreaks. Drugs including Famvir, Zovirax, and Valtrex are among the drugs used to treat the symptoms of herpes. Warm baths may relieve the pain associated with genital sores.
How To Prevent Outbreaks
Herpes in men can be contained, not cured. In order to reduce the duration, severity and frequency of outbreaks, the following preventive measures should be taken:
- Dietary restrictions may impede the frequency of herpes outbreaks in men. Alcohol, coffee, nuts, popcorn and chocolate may encourage HSV-2 flare-ups.
- Triggers and environmental factors can vary from man to man, however exposure to extreme environments that create stress in the body should be reduced. This includes physical or emotional stimulus which promotes cortisol production in the body and triggers the nerve response that could encourage reactivation of the virus.
- Vigorous sexual activity can enflame and irritate the skin, due to excessive friction. Lubricants and condoms that contain nonoxynol-9 may also prove to be a catalyst for skin irritation that results in the prodrome stage of genital herpes.
- Although it may seem to be helpful, some men report that frequent bathing or showers â or utilising multiple skincare products â aggravates their herpes symptoms. Some products, including soaps, laundry care and fragrances contain chlorine and other potential irritants that clog the mucous membranes and activate outbreaks.
- Lifestyle considerations should be taken into account when attempting to restrict the frequency of herpes outbreaks for men. Lack of sleep and elevated stress levels can lower immune system function, resulting in an increased risk of recurring symptoms.
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What Happens If Herpes Is Not Treated
Herpes can be painful, but it generally does not cause serious health problems like other STDs can.
Without treatment, you might continue to have regular outbreaks, or they could only happen rarely. Some people naturally stop getting outbreaks after a while. Herpes typically does not get worse over time.
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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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.
How Often Do Outbreaks Occur
Half of the people who have herpes dont have any more outbreaks after the first occurrence of symptoms. This is especially true if the infecting herpes was HSV-1. Some people only get a few outbreaks, while others get many. People can have many outbreaks in a row and then go months or years without one. People with illnesses that weaken the immune system such as leukemia and HIV are more likely to get more outbreaks and have symptoms that are more painful and last longer.
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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?
Herpes Pregnancy And Newborn Infants
Herpes can pose serious risks for a pregnant woman and her baby. The risk is greatest for mothers with a first-time infection because the virus can be transmitted to the infant during childbirth. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using specific diagnostic tests for women in labor to determine the risk of transmission. Babies born to mothers infected with genital herpes are often treated with the antiviral drug acyclovir, which can help suppress the virus.
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Herpes Simplex Treatment And Management
Herpes simplex infections can’t be cured, but treatments are available to reduce the number and length of outbreaks. The risk of transmitting the infection to others is also reduced.
Daily antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir, may be prescribed. During an outbreak, self-care strategies can also help manage pain and discomfort.
For an oral herpes outbreak featuring cold sores or blisters around the mouth, do the following:
- Clean the affected area and pat dry
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers or ointments with ingredients such as benzocaine or lidocaine
- Apply OTC antiviral cold sore medication to the lesions to help them heal quicker
- Use petroleum jelly to keep skin from drying out or cracking
- Avoid acidic, spicy, or salty foods that may irritate your lesions
Self-care for a genital herpes outbreak may include:
- Use OTC pain relievers or cool compresses to help manage pain
- Wash affected area with mild soap and gently dry
- Wear loose fitting, cotton underwear
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.
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Blisters Inside The Urethra
The urethra is the tube that connects the urinary bladder to the genitals. In both men and women with herpes type-2, painful sores can form on the inner lining of this tube. When urinating, a person may feel a burning or razor blade sensation when urine passes over these sores. Unlike genital or mouth sores, the doctor may need to conduct tests to confirm a herpes infection when the urethra is affected.
What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic
The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:
- ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
- use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing
The test cannot:
- be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
- tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from
Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus.
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Can Herpes Make You Infertile
There is no conclusive evidence that herpes affects sperm count. However, studies examining a possible link between the two have been conducted. The National Library of Medicine reports the findings of one study, entitled Asymptomatic seminal infection of herpes simplex virus: impact on male infertility, which indicates that although HSV infection is not associated with sperm mobility, it is correlated to a reduced sperm count in seminal fluid. The findings suggest that asymptomatic seminal infection of HSV affects male infertility by adversely impacting sperm count.
While some studies report a correlation, the link between herpes in men and infertility has yet to be concretely proven.
Transmission Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease spread by skin-to-skin contact. The risk of infection is highest during outbreak periods when there are visible sores and lesions. However, genital herpes can also be transmitted when there are no visible symptoms. Most new cases of genital herpes infection do not cause symptoms, and many people infected with HSV-2 are unaware that they have genital herpes.
To help prevent genital herpes transmission:
- Use a condom for sexual intercourse.
- Use a dental dam for oral sex.
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
- Be aware that nonoxynol-9, the chemical spermicide used in gel and foam contraceptive products and some lubricated condoms, does not protect against STDs.
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