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.
How Does Herpes Simplex Spread
Herpes spreads through close contact with a person who has the infection. The virus can be found in skin and saliva. If you have herpes simplex, you are most likely to pass the virus to another person when you have sores. But you can infect someone else even if you have no symptoms. Healthcare providers call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
People may get HSV-1 through
- Touching a persons skin near the mouth.
- Sharing food utensils, lip balm or razors.
- If you receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, it may spread a herpes infection to your genitals.
People may get HSV-2 through
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
How Do You Prevent Human Papillomavirus
To reduce the risk of getting human papillomavirus :
- Get the HPV vaccine
- Get screened for cervical cancer
- Women aged 21 to 65 years old should be screened routinely to help prevent cervical cancer
If you are sexually active:
- Use latex or vinyl condoms every time you have sex .
- Be in a mutually monogamous relationship
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How Can I Reduce The Risk Of Getting Or Spreading Herpes
There are things you can do to reduce your risk of getting herpes. The best way to avoid herpes is to avoid coming in contact with the mouth or genitals of another person. Safer sex practices such as using a condom or dental dam the right way every time you have sex whether or not sores are present will lower your risk of getting herpes.
If you have herpes, let your partner know so they can protect themselves. Avoid having sex if you or your partner are having an outbreak and learn the early warning signs of an outbreak. Talk with your doctor about available treatment options.
It is important to avoid having sex, even with a condom, while you or your partner is having an outbreak.
How Is Genital Herpes Managed Or Treated
If you have mild symptoms or infrequent outbreaks, you might not need or want treatment. During an outbreak, these steps can ease symptoms:
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep 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.
- Wear loose-fitting clothing.
Antiviral medications can prevent outbreaks. They can also lessen symptoms and help symptoms go away faster. You take this medicine as a pill, intravenous injection or skin cream. When taken daily, antivirals can prevent an outbreak. They lower the chances of spreading the virus to other people.
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What Are The Complications
Complications are rare, but some people especially those with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV, may have trouble fighting the virus and get a secondary infection in the eye, fingers, joints, throat, colon, liver, lungs or brain.
If you are pregnant, and you or your partner have a history of herpes, it is important to inform your health care provider. There are steps that can be taken to help prevent the virus being passed to the baby. This is most likely to happen if the mother has a primary first outbreak in the third trimester. Herpes can cause serious complications for the baby, including death. Women who have genital herpes before they become pregnant are at very low risk of passing it to their infant.
Myth #: People Cannot Spread Herpes To Others Unless They Have Sores Or Blisters
Fact: People can spread herpes to others at any time, including when they do not have any symptoms.
People with herpes may experience outbreaks and remissions. During an outbreak, a person has active sores or blisters, but in remission, they may have no symptoms at all.
The virus is usually more contagious when a person has an outbreak, but it can also spread when it is in remission.
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How To Get Screened For Stds
If youre concerned that you may have contracted an STD through sexual or non-sexual activity, it can be highly anxiety-provoking. You can give yourself peace of mind by getting an STD test. At Solv, we make STD testing easy and convenient. Use our STD finder tool to find an STD testing site near you.
What Are Cold Sores Chickenpox Shingles And Genital Herpes
Cold sores are caused by a herpes virus that may be spread by kissing or other physical contact with the infected area of the skin. They are small, painful ulcers that you get in or around your mouth. It is not known if valacyclovir tablets can stop the spread of cold sores to others.
Chickenpox is caused by a herpes virus called Varicella Zoster Virus . It causes an itchy rash of multiple small, red bumps that look like pimples or insect bites usually appearing first on the abdomen or back and face. It can spread to almost everywhere else on the body and may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms.
Shingles is caused by the same herpes virus that causes chickenpox. It causes small, painful blisters to appear on your skin. Shingles occurs in people who have already had chickenpox. Shingles can be spread to people who have not had chickenpox or the chickenpox vaccine by contact with the infected areas of the skin. It is not known if valacyclovir tablets can stop the spread of shingles to others.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. It causes small, painful blisters on your genital area. You can spread genital herpes to others, even when you have no symptoms. If you are sexually active, you can still pass herpes to your partner, even if you are taking valacyclovir tablets. Valacyclovir tablets, taken every day as prescribed and used with the following safer sex practices, can lower the chances of passing genital herpes to your partner.
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What Happens Once You Have Hsv
Once a person becomes infected with a herpes virus, the virus never leaves the body. After the first outbreak, the virus moves from the skin cells to nerve cells. The virus stays in the nerve cells forever. But it usually just stays there. In this stage, the virus is said to be dormant, or asleep. But it can become active again.
Some things that can trigger the virus are:
When Should You Call Your Doctor About Genital Herpes
With an initial outbreak, if an individual has signs or symptoms of a genital herpes infection, he or she should seek the care of a doctor as soon as possible, particularly if the diagnosis of genital herpes has not been previously established. Although genital herpes infections generally are not medical emergencies, treatment is more effective when it is started within the first few days of the outbreak.
Subsequent outbreaks rarely need immediate medical attention.
- If an individual has had a genital herpes outbreak before, discuss options for preventing further outbreaks with a doctor.
- People with severe underlying medical problems are at higher risk of severe illness if the disease is untreated. These individuals should contact a doctor immediately upon noticing genital herpes sores.
- A pregnant woman with signs or symptoms of genital herpes must inform her doctor as soon as possible. Prompt medical therapy may reduce the risk of transmitting the disease to newborn children by exposure in the birth canal.
In otherwise healthy people, genital herpes outbreaks rarely require hospital visits. If an individual is experiencing an initial episode of genital herpes and cannot be seen by a regular doctor within the first few days of the illness, it is advisable to go to a hospitals emergency department to have medical treatment started.
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Myth #: Herpes Can Affect Your Fertility
Herpes has no impact on fertility, says Hawkins however, people may be confused because there can be an issue with herpes when it comes to pregnancy. If someone is pregnant and gets an outbreak close to when shes going to deliver a baby, that could be problematic, she says. In very rare cases, the outbreak can be transmitted to the baby during birth this is called neonatal herpes and the condition is potentially deadly. In such a situation, doctors may recommend a cesarean to protect the baby from infection.
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll 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 Possible Side Effects Of Valacyclovir Tablets
Kidney failure and nervous system problems are not common, but can be serious in some patients taking valacyclovir tablets. Nervous system problems include aggressive behavior, unsteady movement, shaky movements, confusion, speech problems, hallucinations , seizures and coma.
Kidney failure and nervous system problems have happened in patients who already have kidney disease and in elderly patients whose kidneys do not work well due to age. Always tell your healthcare provider if you have kidney problems before taking valacyclovir tablets.
Common side effects of valacyclovir tablets in adults include headache, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and dizziness. Side effects in HIV-infected adults include headache, tiredness and rash. These side effects usually are mild and do not cause patients to stop taking valacyclovir tablets.
Other less common side effects in adults include painful periods in women, joint pain, depression, low blood cell counts and changes in tests that measure how well the liver and kidneys work. The most common side effect seen in children < 18 years of age was headache.
Talk to your healthcare provider if you develop any side effects that concern you. These are not all the side effects of valacyclovir tablets. For more information ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist.
What Is The Incubation Period For Each Sti
The incubation period of a sexually transmitted infection refers to the amount of time between the time a person is infected and the time they start to have symptoms. Incubation periods can also affect when a person may develop a positive STD test. Here is a breakdown of the incubation periods for each STI, according to the CDC:
- HIV: 2 to 4 weeks
- Chlamydia: 7 to 20 days
- Gonorrhea: 1 to 14 days
- Syphilis: 2 to 12 weeks
- Hepatitis C: 2 to 26 weeks
- Hepatitis B: 60 to 150 days
- Herpes: 2 to 12 days
- Human papillomavirus : 2 weeks to 8 months
- Trichomoniasis: 5 to 28 days
If youre concerned you may have come into contact with an STD, keep these incubation periods in mind so that you can monitor your own health and get tested, as needed.
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Chances Of Passing Herpes During Outbreak Unprotected Sex
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Herpes is one of the most common viral infections, with more than half of all people under 50 years of age infected with the HSV-1 type of herpes and an estimated 11% of people infected with the HSV-2 type of the virus, according to WHO data. One of the most common herpes-related questions is whether or not its possible to be infected with the herpes virus without ever experiencing any symptoms. Unfortunately, thatâs a thing, and itâs called asymptomatic herpes. In fact, itâs a major thing.
While most people associate herpes with cold sores on the lips and mouth or herpes lesions on the genitals, the reality is that most people infected with the herpes simplex virus wont get any symptoms.
This means that not only is it possible to have herpes without symptoms, but itâs actually very common. Below, well explain how often herpes results in asymptomatic infections , how asymptomatic viral shedding occurs, and the best options for testing whether or not you have herpes.
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.
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You Can Spread The Virus Via The Fingers
It is possible, however, to spread the virus via the fingers , including manual stimulation and masturbation. For this reason it is imperative not to touch active sores in your mouth or on your genitals, and, if you do, to wash your hands as soon as possible afterwards. It’s recommended that people with active sores avoid intimate contact until the sores are completely healed.
How Does Someone Get Herpes
Herpes is transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact. This happens when a contagious area comes into contact with a tiny break in the skin or mucous membrane tissue, usually on the mouth or genitals. Most skin on the body is too thick for the virus to go through.
Oral herpes can be passed on through kissing or oral sex. If a person with oral herpes performs oral sex, it is possible to pass along the infection to the partners genitals. If a person with genital herpes has sex, it is possible for his or her partner to get genital herpes. Any person who is sexually active can get genital herpes.
Genital herpes can be transmitted sexually both when symptoms are present and sometimes when symptoms are not present. There are several days throughout the year when the virus may be on the surface of the skin, but there are no symptoms. Herpes can be passed through sexual contact during this time.
There are no documented cases of a person getting genital herpes from an inanimate object such as a toilet seat, bathtub, or towel. Herpes is a very fragile virus and does not live long on surfaces.
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Black Americans And Genital Herpes
The NHANES survey found that the age-adjusted prevalence for the HSV-2, the virus that causes most genital herpes, was 34.6 for Black Americans, compared with 8.1 percent for white Americans.
Black Americans are also less likely to be diagnosed with genital herpes, even after accounting for socio-demographic factors such as education and income or health insurance. Lack of diagnosis likely contributes to ongoing transmission of the virus at a higher rate than for white or Hispanic Americans.
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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