Monday, February 19, 2024

How Can You Get Genital Herpes

Is It Possible To Have Unprotected Sex And Not Catch Herpes

What You Need to Know About Genital Herpes

If you have unprotected sex with someone who has genital herpes then youre not guaranteed to catch it, but you are playing with fire. Herpes infections are highly contagious and very easy to catch, so although you arent guaranteed to catch it you have a high chance.

OK. Lets get down to it and look at some specifics about how you can catch herpes infections:

How To Cope After Diagnosis

Many posters were occupied with the issue of passing on the infection. Yolandayw points out that you can minimise the risk of transmission by postponing sex until all the sores have healed. She also mentioned that condoms should be used. They wont completely prevent transmission but they will help.

Ending on a positive note, many posters emphasised that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Learning of the diagnosis may feel stressful at first, but its a manageable condition and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Lucy03934 has had genital herpes for 25 years. Shes been married for 18 years and has two sons living proof that there is life after herpes.

How Do I Know If I Have Herpes

If a person has an active herpes outbreak with visible sores, a physician or specialist such as a dermatologist can make a diagnosis based on a physical examination. If the physical symptoms alone are not enough, a doctor may take a swab of the sore and send it to a lab for analysis.

If a person does not have physical sores but is concerned, blood tests are available.

People can also take at-home herpes tests, though they should seek a consultation with a doctor to confirm a diagnosis and seek treatment.

Read Also: Where To Go To Get Tested For Herpes

What Is Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex is a virus that causes skin infections. The infection lasts your lifetime, and it causes painful or itchy sores and blisters that come and go. Herpes simplex virus typically doesnt cause severe problems. But it can be dangerous in infants and people with weakened immune systems. There are two types of herpes simplex:

  • Herpes simplex 1 tends to affect your mouth or face. It causes cold sores. HSV-1 spreads through contact with saliva .
  • Herpes simplex 2 is a sexually transmitted disease . It causes sores on skin that comes in contact with the genitals of an infected person.

Sometimes a herpes infection can affect other parts of your body, such as your eyes or other parts of your skin.

Treatment Of An Initial Outbreak

Does this look like genital herpes?

The first outbreak of genital herpes is usually much worse than recurrent outbreaks. Symptoms tend to be more severe and to last longer. Your provider will prescribe one of the three antiviral medications, which you will take for 7 to 10 days. If your symptoms persist, treatment may be extended. An acyclovir ointment may also be prescribed for topical treatment of initial genital herpes.

Also Check: How To Prevent Herpes Outbreaks Naturally

Read Also: How To Catch Herpes Simplex

How Can I Prevent Hsv From Spreading

HSV is highly contagious. To help prevent it from spreading to others:

  • Keep drinking cups and utensils as well as towels and washcloths separate from those used by other family members and wash them well after use.
  • Dont kiss others and abstain from sex during the most infectious time, which is when any tingling or burning is felt in the infected area up until the sores have completely resolved.
  • Wash your hands well and often and avoid touching your face and eyes.
  • The consistent and correct use of condoms can help prevent the spread, but HSV can still spread from areas not covered by a condom.

Can Genital Herpes Be Cured With Drugs

The answer to this question is not affirmative because there are no medications to cure genital herpes.

There is an intermediate solution because with the available medicines the disease can be treated to shorten the duration of outbreaks and decrease the frequency of recurrences.

Treatment of genital herpes with drugs is based on the use of an antiviral agent that stops the reproduction of the virus, although it does not eliminate it definitively. The simultaneous use of several antiviral agents does not make the treatment more effective that is why only one is used.

Acyclovir is available in various forms: tablets, injections, capsules, suspensions for oral use, ointments and creams. Its topical presentations are the creams and ointments and the non-topical ones, the rest.

The use of creams on the genitals is contraindicated due to the high content of water in its chemical composition, which creates a suitable habitat for fungi that can damage them.

People who dont know that creams shouldnt be used on the genitals often ask for creams for genital herpes when they should be interested in ointments, which are compounds without water or with a lower water content than creams.

Non-topical presentations of acyclovir often have several harmful health side effects including hair loss, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach upset, and changes in vision.

Valacyclovir is available in tablet form and when metabolized by the body it becomes acyclovir. The same is true of famciclovir.

Read Also: What Does Herpes Look Like On Your Skin

What Are The Types Of Herpes Viruses

Herpes is a group of contagious viruses that cause blisters and sores. Some of the more common herpes viruses include:

  • Type 1: HSV-1, or oral herpes, causes cold sores to form on your lips, gums, tongue and inside of your mouth. It can cause genital herpes in some cases. This type usually spreads through saliva when you kiss someone with open herpes sores. You can also get HSV-1 by sharing items like toothbrushes, lipsticks or eating utensils.
  • Type 2: HSV-2 causes genital herpes.
  • Herpes zoster: This virus causes chickenpox and shingles.

Simple Treatments For The Relief Of Discomfort

Can I Get Herpes From A Towel? Your Worst Fears Confirmed
  • Wear loose underclothes, preferably cotton , to help minimise discomfort and allow healing.
  • Use plain water or saline solution with cotton wool to clean and soothe the area. To make a saline solution, use 1 teaspoon of salt in 600ml of water or a handful of salt in a shallow bath.
  • Don’t use scented soaps, bubble bath, etc in the area, as these may irritate it.
  • Using a hairdryer on its lowest setting to dry the area may be more comfortable than using a towel.
  • Pain relief medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may ease the pain. Check with your pharmacist or other health professional whether taking these is suitable for you.
  • Ice wrapped in a face cloth or flannel and placed over the sores for 510 minutes may be soothing. Don’t apply ice directly to the sores as this can cause ice burn.
  • If you find peeing painful, try applying Vaseline® to the area or sitting in a warm bath before urinating or using a pump bottle full of water and spraying water on yourself while peeing.
  • You can also try applying a pain relief cream such as lignocaine cream to the painful area. This is applied 5 minutes before peeing and should be used for a maximum of 12 days.
  • Drink plenty of fluids as this dilutes your pee and may help reduce stinging.

Also Check: Can Genital Herpes Turn Into Hiv

How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes

If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:

  • Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have herpes.
  • Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.

Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that a condom can cover. Also, the skin can release the virus from areas that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.

If your sex partner has/have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting it if:

  • Your partner takes an anti-herpes medicine every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her healthcare provider.

Genital Herpes Silent Spread

The finding comes from a large study that collected daily genital swabs from nearly 500 people infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 , the genital herpes virus. Many thought they were uninfected, but found out they were herpes carriers when they underwent blood tests.

Itâs not too hard to find people who carry the virus, as 16% of Americans have HSV-2 infections. The vast majority â between 75% and 90% â donât know they are infected because they donât get, or donât notice, herpes sores on their genitals.

These asymptomatic herpes carriers shed infectious virus 10% of the 30 or more days they were in the study, report University of Washington researcher Anna Wald, MD, MPH, and colleagues. And nearly all the time, these people had no obvious sign of herpes infection while they were actively shedding virus.

âThe primary concern of many HSV-2-seropositive persons is the risk of transmission to sexual partners in our experience this is the main source of angst in patients with genital herpes,â Wald and colleagues note in the April 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Asymptomatic-infected people shed herpes virus only about half as often as do people who have herpes symptoms. But when they are shedding virus, they shed just as much as people who have frequent symptoms .

Wald and colleagues also found that:

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Wouldnt Testing Everyone Stop The Spread Of Genital Herpes

We dont know. There is no evidence that diagnosing genital herpes with a blood test in someone without symptoms would change their sexual behavior and stop the virus from spreading. In addition, without knowing the benefits of testing, the risk of shaming and stigmatizing people outweighs the potential benefits. For these reasons, testing everyone for herpes is not recommended at this time.

How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy

Is this herpes??

Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.

Recommended Reading: How Long Does Genital Herpes Take To Go Away

How Did I Get Herpes If My Partner Doesn’t Have It

This is a question we see a lot on our Herpes Opportunity community forums. âHow did I get herpes? My partner said they didnât have it. How is this possible?â

Here are a few possible answers to consider â¦

  • Your partner might have had herpes, but didn’t know it. S/he might have not gotten tested, assuming they didnât have herpes because they never saw any herpes outbreaks or symptoms. This is a big assumption a lot of people make around their sexual health, which is partly based on our culture of denial. Not many people are proactive about going to get tested after/before new sexual partners. A lot of people just assume if they have something, then theyâll start showing symptoms for it. They think that if there arenât any symptoms, then they must not have an STD. This is part of the reason why 70-80% of people who have herpes arenât aware that they have it. Also, know that 20% of people who have herpes will never develop any visual symptoms, but that herpes is still spreadable via asymptomatic viral shedding. â
  • Ultimately, trying to figure out how you got herpes might just drive you crazy and lead to a whole host of possible conclusions, none of which can be 100% verified. Now starts the process of accepting it and moving on with your life. Talking about it with people who understand you on our Herpes Opportunity community forums is tremendously helpful.

    Related to this post:

    Whats The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Oral Herpes

    Because there are 2 different kinds of herpes simplex viruses that can live on many body parts, lots of people are confused about what to call these infections. But its actually pretty simple:

    • When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 on or around your genitals , its called genital herpes.

    • When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 in or around your lips, mouth, and throat, its called oral herpes. Oral herpes sores are sometimes called cold sores or fever blisters.

    HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes, and HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes each strain prefers to live on its favorite area. But its totally possible for both types of herpes simplex to infect either area. For example, you can get HSV-1 on your genitals if someone with a cold sore on their lips gives you oral sex. And you can get HSV-2 in your mouth if you give oral sex to someone with HSV-2 on their genitals.

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    I Had Lesions When I Was Evaluated But My Culture Was Negative Does This Mean That I Dont Have Herpes

    Not necessarily. Although lesions can be caused by something other than herpes, false negative herpes tests can occur if the samples are not taken appropriately, if there is a long transport time between the clinic and the laboratory, or if cultures were taken late in the course of the lesions. Lesions that occur early in the course of a herpes outbreak are much more likely to have positive cultures than cultures taken after the lesions crust over.

    Ruling Out Conditions That Resemble Oral Herpes

    Herpes (oral & genital) – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

    Canker Sores

    Simple canker sores are often confused with the cold sores of HSV-1. Canker sores frequently crop up singly or in groups on the inside of the mouth, or on or underneath the tongue. Their cause is unknown, and they are common in perfectly healthy people. They are usually white or grayish crater-like ulcers with a sharp edge and a red rim. They usually heal within 2 weeks without treatment.

    This aphthous ulcer is located in front of and just below the bottom teeth.

    Thrush

    Oral candidiasis is a yeast infection that causes a whitish overgrowth in the mouth. It is most common in infants, but can appear in people of all ages, particularly people taking antibiotics or those with impaired immune systems.

    Other conditions that may be confused with oral herpes include herpangina , sore throat caused by strep or other bacteria, and infectious mononucleosis.

    Recommended Reading: How Fast Can Herpes Show Up

    Genital Herpes Symptoms In Women

    Genital herpes symptoms occur in outbreaks that come and go.

    The primary symptom is blisters that pop and become ulcers. When they first appear, they are usually small red bumps that can be subtle and easy to overlook. When the blisters pop, they can be very painful.

    Some people get a tingling or burning sensation where herpes sores are about to develop. This is called a prodrome, which is an early sign of a disease or infection.

    When you do have an outbreak, the blisters or ulcers can appear in several areas of the body, including:

    • Female genitals
    • Itching or burning in the affected area
    • Pain in the affected area
    • Feeling of fullness in the abdomen
    • Unusual vaginal discharge

    Some people may not have an outbreak, others have only one outbreak, and others will have repeated outbreaks .

    Even if you have had no symptoms for years, you can still transmit the virus, though its less contagious when you are asymptomatic.

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    What Happens When Herpes Enters The Body

    One thing that distinguishes viruses in the herpesvirus family from other types of viruses is something called latency. Herpes simplex and other herpesviruses have a way of creating a small but permanent colony of viral particles inside the body. This colony is often completely inactive but it stays for a lifetime.

    Heres how it works: once HSV gains a foothold, the virus begins making copies of itself and spreading. This can lead to a range of signs and symptoms, everything from subtle symptoms that go unrecognized to severe illness. In response, the immune system mobilizes its forces for an assault and limits HSVs spread.

    Whether there are severe symptoms or not, the virus will stay in the body. To avoid the immune system, HSV will retreat along the nerve pathways, hiding in a nerve root called a ganglion. In cases of genital herpes, HSV retreats to the sacral ganglion, located at the base of the spine. In oral or facial herpes , HSV finds its way to the trigeminal ganglion, at the top of the spine. In the ganglion, the virus remains inactive for an indefinite period of time.

    The phenomenon of latency is similar to a sleep cycle. Basically, the virus returns to a safe haven and sleeps, sometimes for long periods. Unfortunately, while HSV is latent, various biological events can cause it to become active and begin traveling the nerve pathways back to the skin. There it can cause signs and symptoms again, though it doesnt always do this.

    Recommended Reading: How To Test For Herpes Without Sores

    Herpes Causes And Risk Factors

    Causes of herpes include acquiring the virus through sexual contact, coupled with immune system suppression and sometimes nutritional deficiencies.

    HSV-1 is primarily transmitted by oral-oral contact. On the other hand, HSV-2 is considered a sexually transmitted disease and usually passed during oral or vaginal sex.

    A scary finding is that more cases of genital herpes than ever before are now being caused by HSV-1 , and about 85 percent of people with genital herpes dont even know it. Studies show that about 50 percent of the new genital herpes infections in young adults are due to HSV-1 and about 40 percent in older adults. The fact that most people dont ever find out theyre infected is one of the reasons that transmission rates are steadily climbing.

    Risk factors for acquiring herpes include:

    • Kissing someone who has symptoms of an active herpes virus
    • Engaging in any form of unprotected sex
    • Having sex with multiple partners
    • Spreading the virus through contact with cold sores on the eyes, secretions on the fingers, or ulcers/sores on buttocks and upper thighs
    • Having certain other illnesses that lower immune function, such as HIV/AIDS, an autoimmune disorder or hepatitis
    • Eating a poor diet that causes nutrient deficiencies and lowered immunity
    • Smoking cigarettes, drinking high amounts of alcohol or abusing drugs

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