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 .
Prevent The Spread Of Herpes
If you have herpes, . Talk about what it is and what you and your partner need to know and do to protect themselves. Avoid skin-to-skin contact during outbreaks and refrain from all sexual activity during these times. In between outbreaks, you should still because there is still the potential of spreading the virus.
This is an update of an article originally written by HealthCentral contributor Penelope James.
Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no cure for genital herpes. However, daily use of antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks. Antiviral medicines also can reduce the chance of spreading it to others.
Though several clinical trials have tested vaccines against genital herpes, there is no vaccine currently available to prevent infection. One vaccine trial showed efficacy among women whose partners had HSV-2, but only among women not infected with HSV-1. Efficacy was not observed among men whose partners had HSV-2. Another trial testing the same vaccine showed some protection from genital HSV-1 infection, but none from HSV-2.
You May Like: At Home Remedy For Genital Herpes
Initial Outbreaks Of Hsv
If youve been infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2, youll usually go through an initial outbreak. Your first herpes outbreak is also referred to as the primary outbreak, which usually happens one to two weeks after your virus exposure, and tends to be the most severe physical experience from the virus.
Not everyone with HSV-1 or HSV-2 will have an initial outbreak. Some people are completely asymptomatic, which means they can be infected with the virus without experiencing any real herpes symptoms.
During a first herpes outbreak, most people experience the physical effects of herpes , plus additional flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, sore throat and general body aches.
Herpes outbreaks usually start within several days of exposure. If youre worried that youre going through an initial outbreak of herpes, the best thing to do is check your symptoms and talk to your doctor about testing and treatment options.
Why You Should Go To A Sexual Health Clinic
You can see a GP, but theyll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you might have genital herpes.
Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.
Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.
Theyll often get test results quicker than GP practices and you do not have to pay a prescription fee for treatment.
You May Like: Do Genital Herpes Go Away On Their Own
After The Initial Outbreak
Herpes outbreaks can keep coming back rather unexpectedly. This is because the herpes virus takes up permanent residence in nerve roots, and can never truly be eliminated .
Genital herpes outbreaks that occur after the primary infection are called recurrent infections . These can include the same symptoms from the primary infection, but are usually less severe, or can be asymptomatic, so that a person doesnât even know that they are having a recurrent infection .
Fever and general feelings of being unwell are not usually present with recurrent infections . The number of recurrent outbreaks decreases over time .
During recurrent infections, something called viral shedding occurs, meaning that a person is contagious and can pass on herpes virus to another partner .
This means that even if you canât see any herpes lesions on you or your partnerâs genitalia, you are not safe during these times. The best way to avoid transmitting herpes if you know you have it is to always use a condom or another barrier method.
Most people who have recurrent infections have less severe lesions for a shorter period of time, compared to the primary infection . Some people may even be able to âfeelâ when a recurrent herpes outbreak will occurâthis is called a prodromeânoticing symptoms like tingling, itching, or leg pain anywhere from 30 minutes to five days before the skin symptoms start .
You May Like: Is There Any Over The Counter Medicine For Herpes
How Will My Doctor Know If I Have Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at your symptoms. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. In certain situations, a blood test may be used to look for herpes antibodies. Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider and ask whether you should be tested for herpes or other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or how long you have been infected.
Read Also: How To Tell You Have Herpes
How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
- If you get genital herpes during pregnancy, you can spread genital herpes to your baby during delivery.
- If you had genital herpes before pregnancy, your baby is still at risk of getting herpes, but the risk is lower.
Most women with genital herpes have healthy babies. But babies who get herpes from their mother have neonatal herpes. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition that can cause problems in a newborn baby such as brain damage, eye problems, or even death.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex
You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.
If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:
- Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
- Touching the skin near their mouth.
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms during intercourse and dental dams during oral sex.
Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.
If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:
- Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.
You May Like: What Are The Chances Of Catching 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.
How To Control Herpes Outbreaks With Meds
Recently, I got a cold sore. At least I thought it was a cold sore but now thinking about it, maybe it was something else, like a fever blister. I had a similar thing happen to me a once or twice before, but Im pretty sure that happens to all teenagers. In fact, I dont think it could have been a cold sore at all because my best friend gets cold sores and this was different.
Whether you were recently diagnosed with herpes or have been living with it for a while, its important to inform yourself about what herpes is, how it impacts your health, and what you can do to identify and prevent the symptoms.
Also Check: Does Herpes Medicine Stop Outbreaks
Don’t Miss: How Long Does It Take To Show Symptoms Of Herpes
Do Natural Remedies Help
There are several options that can be tried to ease the pain. A73612 and Donnor52059 suggest dabbing cornstarch directly on the sores. I can’t find any scientific studies that have researched this, but I can’t see that it would do any harm.
A73612 also recommends squirting water from a bottle over the sores when you pee. This is a time-honoured method that will help to ease the pain.
Yolandayw mentioned taking a simple painkiller such as paracetamol during an outbreak. Feelbroken advised putting Vaseline on the sores. Lidocaine 5%, a local anaesthetic gel that numbs the area, is another option. Some people find it helpful to put on five minutes before passing urine. You need to get it on prescription and it doesn’t suit everyone. Some people develop sensitivity to it which makes the symptoms worse.
Yolandayw also advised using ice as a home remedy. Simply wrap the ice in a tea towel and apply for 5-10 minutes. Never put ice directly on the skin as this can cause ‘ice burn’. Drinking plenty of water can also be helpful as it reduces the concentration of urine, making it less painful when you have to pee.
Herpes Symptoms And Signs
In order to diagnose herpes, a health care provider can swab an area of visibly active herpes infection or, if symptoms arent active, a blood test can be given that measures the number of herpes antibodies present in the body. The antibodies dont indicate herpes itself, but rather show the immune systems response to the presence of the virus in the body. Its important to note that sometimes a swab can give false negative results since herpes lesions need to be large enough to yield enough detectable virus and if the outbreak is already healing it also may not be detected in a swab.
The most common herpes symptoms include:
- Developing either a single cold sore or cluster of multiple cold sores that form on the lips, inside the mouth, or on the genitals, buttocks and upper thighs.
- Sores can sometimes be severe, painful and rupture and cause fluid to be secreted out.
- Some herpes canker sores develop a thin, white coating and burn when touched while they healing.
- Around herpes cold sores, its common to feel pain, tenderness and other symptoms of a rash, such as redness or signs of swelling.
- Some people are able to tell before an outbreak if one is going to occur because they feel tingling, itchy sensations near the affected area.
- Some people develop other symptoms during herpes outbreaks that are similar to those caused by a cold or the flu. This may include fatigue, irritability, aches or a slight fever.
Recommended Reading: Is There An Ointment For Herpes
Herpes Outbreak Frequency: What You Can Expect
Medically reviewed by Michele Emery, DNP
If you’re reading this, it’s likely that you or someone you care about may have herpes. Well, first, we want to remind you that HSV-1 and HSV-2 are exceptionally manageable viruses, and that the anxiety and fear you’re experiencing right now, while normal, may be unwarranted. Depending on the type of herpes virus youre infected with and your symptomatic status, your herpes outbreak frequency can become a common occurrence or be something youll rarely, if ever, have to deal with.
In this guide, well look at the statistics for herpes outbreaks. Well also look at how outbreaks can differ between HSV-1 and HSV-2, as well as whether or not people with an asymptomatic herpes infection need to worry about outbreaks at all.
Finally, well cover some of the treatments you can use to make treating and managing herpes outbreaks an easier process.
Understanding Herpes With H Hunter Handsfield Md
Herpes expert H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, explains the basics about genital herpes, including the difference between genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, testing options and the importance of knowing virus type, and the three-prong strategy for prevention. See more herpes videos at sexualhealthTV.com.
Have a question about herpes youd like Dr. Handsfield or our other experts to answer? Visit our Ask the Experts page to learn how.
Also Check: How Do You Test For Herpes Type 2
Recommended Reading: Can You Be An Egg Donor If You Have Herpes
Genital Herpes: How Can You Prevent The Spread Of Herpes In Sexual Relationships
Herpes viruses are most likely to be transmitted during an outbreak, so its better to not have sex during this time. Herpes can also be passed on to others in symptom-free phases, though. This risk can be reduced considerably by using condoms.
If you have genital herpes, there are some things you can do on your own to protect your partner from infection. The main things are
- not having sex during an outbreak,
- using condoms during symptom-free phases, and
- talking openly with your partner about the disease.
Preventive treatment with antiviral medication may be an option for people who have genital herpes very frequently. This medication inhibits the activity of the virus, thereby lowering the risk of infecting partners.
Hsv1 And Oral Transmission
The other commonly transmitted strain of the herpes simplex virus, HSV1, typically results in oral herpes, or cold sores around the mouth. This form of HSV is more readily transmitted via oral contact, such as kissing, than through genital contact.
Unlike HSV2, which usually lies dormant between outbreaks at the base of the spine, HSV1s latency periods are typically spent in nerve endings near the ear. Thats why its more likely to cause oral herpes than genital herpes.
HSV1 and HSV2 are genetically similar to each other and clinical symptoms are indistinguishable.
For this reason, having one form of the virus sometimes reduces the risk of acquiring the other form. This is because your body actively produces antibodies to fight the virus once you have it. However, its possible to contract both forms.
HSV1 and HSV2 can both have no symptoms or very mild symptoms that you might not notice. Not having symptoms doesnt mean you dont have the virus.
If you do have symptoms of HSV1 or HSV2, they may include:
- a tingling sensation, itching, or pain, anywhere in the genital area or around the mouth
- one or more small, white blisters that may become oozy or bloody
- one or more small, red bumps or irritated-looking skin
Recommended Reading: Where Can I Get Herpes Medication
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.
You May Like: How Do You Know You Have Genital Herpes
Other Impacts Of Genital Herpes
Its important to also remember that there are mental and social impacts of having an incurable STI. Many people with recurrent genital herpes symptoms may feel stigmatized or fearful of pursuing sexual relationships. But people should remember, while genital herpes is not curable, it is manageable, and the outbreaks often decrease over time.
Most people live healthy happy lives with genital herpes .
to track your sex life and herpes symptoms using custom tags.
Lets support one another.
Don’t Miss: How Do You Know Who Gave You Herpes
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.
Whats The Typical Frequency Of Cold Sores
Theres no algorithm to predict the exact frequency of cold sore outbreaks. Many different factors influence the frequency and duration of herpes occurrences.
More than anything, cold sores develop in response to certain triggers. The herpes virus lies dormant and inactive within the nerve cells of your skin until one or more of these triggers disrupts its slumber:
Once a cold sore develops, it may last three to seven days before the sores scab over and heal.
Also Check: What Causes Genital Herpes Breakouts