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.
What Is The Outlook For Patients Who Have Cold Sores
The majority of people who develop cold sores learn to live with and manage their outbreaks. In healthy people, cold sores usually clear up in one to two weeks and have no lasting effects. However, in young babies, immunocompromised people and those with eczema, cold sores can cause life-threatening infections.
Stages Of Oral Herpes
There are three main stages of oral herpes:
- Primary infection: This stage consists of the initial contraction of the virus.
- Latency: When the infection enters the latency phase, it is dormant and symptoms are absent.
- Recurrence: Following the primary infection and periods of latency, outbreaks can recur.
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What Can I Do To Help Relieve Symptoms Of Cold Sores
While cold sores are uncomfortable, you can find relief at home. Suggestions to help manage cold sores:
- Use over-the-counter creams and ointments: These remedies can help shorten the healing time and ease your symptoms. They are most effective when you use them as soon as you feel a cold sore coming on.
- Take pain relievers: If you are in a lot of pain, your doctor may recommend an over-the-counter topical pain reliever such as lidocaine that you can apply directly to the cold sore. You can also take acetaminophen or ibuprofen by mouth to ease your discomfort.
- Wear sunscreen and SPF lip balm: It is important to make sure a cold sore doesnt get sunburned while it is healing. Also, wearing a lip balm with SPF 30 every day could prevent future cold sores.
- Avoid acidic foods: Orange juice, tomatoes and other acidic foods can aggravate a cold sore.
- Apply a cool compress: You can use a cool, damp washcloth to soothe a cold sore. Apply it for a few minutes off and on throughout the day. Be sure to wash the towel after youve used it to avoid spreading the cold sore to others.
Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner about their risk. Using condoms may help lower this risk but it will not get rid of the risk completely. Having sores or other symptoms of herpes can increase your risk of spreading the disease. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.
You may have concerns about how genital herpes will impact your health, sex life, and relationships. While herpes is not curable, it is important to know that it is manageable with medicine. Daily suppressive therapy can lower your risk of spreading the virus to others. Talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns and treatment options.
A genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships. Knowing how to talk to sexual partners about STDs is important.
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How Can I Prevent Spreading Herpes To My Kids
Learning how to reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes by taking medicines, always using a condom during sex, and avoiding sex during outbreaks. talking to partners about the possibility of having sex with someone who is infected with HSV-2. If you or someone you know is at risk for herpes, talk to your health care provider.
What Home Remedies And Over
Home remedies include applying a cool wet compress to the lesion to decrease pain and keep the lesion from drying and cracking. Applying compresses too often will cause more drying, however, so a moisturizing balm should be applied after the lesion is first softened with a wet compress. Lemon balm and L-lysine are popularly used as home remedies. While there is there is very limited data suggesting that these substances have antiviral properties, and not enough data to support recommendations, these remedies seem generally well tolerated for those who wish to try them at their own risk.
Natural treatment options provide pain relief and treat cold sores
Lemon balm, L-lysine supplements, citrus bioflavonoids, Lactobacillus acidophilus and bulgaricus, vitamin C, vitamin E oil, and vitamin B12 have also been considered in the potential treatment of herpes simplex virus, but there is no good clinical evidence to support these treatments. Lemon balm may have some anti-herpes properties, but it is impossible to tell if it is effective in affected people from the few laboratory experiments that have been published. L-lysine similarly has limited laboratory data suggesting antiviral properties and has been touted for reducing recurrence of herpes. Unfortunately, results in patients with cold sores have been highly variable and there are no high quality studies suggesting benefit.
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How Is Herpes Simplex Treated
Some people have few to no herpes outbreaks and choose not to have treatment. But many people prefer to use medications that shorten outbreaks and reduce symptoms.
During an outbreak, you may use an antiviral ointment or cream to help lessen your symptoms and help them go away faster, but it only works if you start it soon after you start an outbreak. Many people with HSV-2 take daily oral medications to keep outbreaks at bay.
Your provider may prescribe a topical medication or oral medication such as:
Where Does It Occur
Herpes in the mouth is located mostly on the lips or near the mouth. However, sores may also appear elsewhere on the face, tongue, or gums. Make sure to practice good hygiene and avoid touching the sores or picking at scabs when sores are healing to prevent the virus from spreading to other parts of your body.
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How Are Cold Sores Treated
Cold sores will usually start to heal on their own within a few days. But if they cause pain or make you feel embarrassed, they can be treated. Treatment may include skin creams, ointments, or sometimes pills. Starting treatment right away may get rid of the cold sores only 1 to 2 days faster, but it can also help ease painful blisters or other uncomfortable symptoms.
The herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores cant be cured. After you get infected, the virus stays in your body for the rest of your life. If you get cold sores often, treatment can reduce the number of cold sores you get and how severe they are.
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Can A Child Get Herpes From Mother
Babies with birth-acquired herpes get the infection from mothers who are infected with genital herpes. Congenital herpes is a birth-acquired form of the disease. The most common signs of infection are fever, headache, sore throat, and a rash on the face, hands, feet, or genitals.
Other symptoms may include: sore or tender lymph nodes or sores on your skin or a fever of 100.4°F , chills , or muscle aches . If your baby has any of these signs or symptoms, call your health care provider right away.
Your baby may need to be admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit for observation and treatment. You may also be asked to stay home from work or school for a few days to allow your childs immune system to recover.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes
The symptoms of herpes generally occur in two wavesan initial outbreak, which occurs after the virus incubates in the body, and subsequent outbreaks.
Initial herpes or cold sore outbreaks typically involve an itching and burning around the genitals , or around the mouth . Within a day or so, blisters can form in the affected area and develop into open, fluid-filled sores.
During an initial herpes outbreak, its common to experience headaches, muscle pains, fatigue and other flu-like symptoms. Many people also experience pain while urinating.
Recurring herpes outbreaks are similar, but are usually less severe than the initial outbreak. In people with HSV-2, outbreaks can occur up to five times a year, requiring two to three weeks to pass. People with HSV-1 typically experience one to two outbreaks per year, but that frequently varies drastically person to person.
Our guide to stopping a cold sore in the early stages goes into more detail about the typical symptoms of a herpes outbreak, as well as the triggers that can cause an outbreak to develop.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- 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 lookout for signs of complications?
How Long Does A Herpes Outbreak Last
Dr. Anna E. Pickering
Dr. Anna E. Pickering
Medically reviewed by Dr Anna Pickering, PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology. Postdoctoral fellowship at Oregon Health & Science University. Anna grew up in Oregon & has a love for science and writing.
Every case of herpes is different depending on the person. There are many factors that can alter the amount of time it takes a herpes outbreak to clear. Some of these include:
- What type of herpesâHSV-1 or HSV-2 you are suffering from
- How many herpes outbreaks youâve had in the past
- How frequent your herpes outbreaks are
- If you are taking preventative antiviral medication or using suppressive therapy
- If you have already started treatment for this outbreak
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What Are The Symptoms Of Oral Herpes
The symptoms of herpes vary a bit based on how long someone has had the infection. Newer infections tend to be more intense than those present in someone for a longer period.
Initially, symptoms of a herpes outbreak might include headache, swollen lymph nodes, and flu-like symptoms. However, some people contract herpes and experience no symptoms other than sores.
Subsequent infections can include milder flu-like symptoms, but this often isnt the case. The primary symptoms of a herpes recurrence are sores in the mouth or around the edges of the mouth.
In general, symptoms include:
- Itching or tingling around the mouth at the site where a sore eventually develops
- Fluid-filled blisters that leak and develop into crusted over sores
Not everyone experiences sores after their initial outbreak. The severity and duration of symptoms all depend on how your body responds to the virus.
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.
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Potential Complications Of Oral Herpes
For most people, herpes is more of an inconvenience than it is a serious medical condition. Mild scarring might be a concern following a particularly severe outbreak.
There are two instances in which herpes poses a more severe risk, but neither of these instances involves oral herpes. For example:
- Neonatal herpes is a risk for infants born to mothers with genital herpes. It can lead to neurological disability and is potentially fatal.
- Herpes simplex encephalitis occurs when herpes infects a persons central nervous system . Its treatable, but can be fatal if not treated properly.
Many people have herpes but are asymptomatic, meaning they dont even know they have it.
How Does Someone Get Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is transmitted through direct contact between the contagious area and broken skin and mucous membrane tissue . In other words, HSV can be passed on through kissing or oral sex.
Herpes can also be transmitted when there are no symptoms present. There are several days throughout the year when the virus reactivates yet causes no symptoms .
If a person is experiencing symptoms orally, we recommend abstaining from performing oral sex and kissing others directly on the mouth until signs have healed and the skin looks normal again. Because most adults have oral herpes, we dont suggest that a person should stop giving or receiving affection altogether between outbreaks simply because they have oral herpes. However, using a barrier or condom when performing oral sex can reduce the risk of contracting genital herpes.
By performing oral sex on someone who has genital herpes, it would be possible to contract oral herpes but this is rare. Most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2, which rarely affects the mouth or face. Also, and even more importantly, most adults already have oral HSV-1, contracted as a child through kissing relatives or friends.
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Who Gets Herpes Simplex
Most people get HSV-1 as an infant or child. This virus can be spread by skin-to-skin contact with an adult who carries the virus. An adult does not have to have sores to spread the virus.
A person usually gets HSV-2 through sexual contact. About 20% of sexually active adults in the United States carry HSV-2. Some people are more likely to get HSV-2. These people:
Have had many sex partners
Had sex for the first time at a young age
Have another sexually transmitted infection
Have a weakened immune system due to a disease or medicine
What Happens If I Dont Get Treated
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or the fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another part of your body, such as your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, immediately wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading your infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your developing fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? above for information about this.
Load Up On Vitamins E And C
Increasing vitamins in our bodies will increase the defense system in our bodies. Vitamin C increases white blood cells that fight diseases. Vitamin E reduces the pain and the irritation feeling. Application of these vitamins can be through oral supplements. In addition, food rich in these vitamins should be taken.
How Can Oral Herpes Be Spread
Herpes is transmitted by skin to skin contact. If you have an open sore and it touches an area where the herpes virus can attach to, then it will likely pass on. You can spread herpes by sharing the same toothbrush or eating utensils, or by kissing someone who has oral herpes.
Many fail to realize that the two types of herpes can be cross-transmitted. For example, if you have lip herpes and give oral sex to someone, you can cause them to get genital herpes. Or, if you give oral sex to someone who has genital herpes, they can give you mouth herpes.
Whats very dangerous is that even though herpes is most easily spread when someone is having an outbreak, it can be transmitted when someone isnt having any apparent symptoms at all. There are a growing number of people who dont realize that they have herpes and are spreading it unknowingly from person to person. The virus can lie dormant without any visible symptoms forever, though its typical to get at least one outbreak.
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Treatment For Herpes Simplex Mouth Infection
You can also ask your GP or pharmacist about numbing gels or mouth washes that can help relieve pain.
You should encourage your child to drink fluids, even tiny amounts at a time. One option is oral rehydration solution like Gastrolyte or Hydralyte, which you can get as liquid, powder or icy poles from your pharmacy.
If your child is used to a bottle, it might be easier to feed them using a cup and spoon until the infection improves. If your child is refusing food, try offering them very soft foods.
If the infection is severe or your child is at risk of a severe infection, your doctor might suggest an anti-viral medicine.
Dont give aspirin to children under 12 years unless its prescribed by a doctor. Aspirin can make your child susceptible to Reyes syndrome, a rare but potentially deadly illness. If youre giving your child any over-the-counter medicines, check with your pharmacist or doctor to make sure these have no aspirin.