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.
Myth #: You Can Cure Herpes Holistically
Both experts tell me, unequivocally, that herpes cannot be cured. Unfortunately, I think some herbal remedies take advantage of the misconception that they can cure herpes, but whats really happening in these scenarios is that your outbreak is going away, Hawkins says. Outbreaks tend to lessen naturally over time, BTW, whether or not you invest in supplements and holistic remedies. There is no cure for herpes it is with a person for life, she says.
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How Can I Lower My Chance Of Passing Or Getting Herpes
Condoms offer good protection, but do not completely prevent the spread of herpes because they do not cover the whole genital area. Condoms can also be used on sex toys. Abstain from sex or avoid skin-to-skin contact in the area of the herpes sores if you are sexual during an outbreak. Dental dams can also be used as a barrier during oral sex. Talk to your health care provider about suppressive therapy to help prevent passing the virus to your partner. Wash your hands if you have touched the blisters to prevent transferring the virus to another person . Talk to your partner about herpes before you have sexual contact.
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Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
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 Genital Herpes Treated
There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. The blisters usually heal and go by themselves, so you may not always need treatment. There is antiviral medicines for herpes, which can: shorten outbreaks, relieve discomfort and stop symptoms from getting worse.
The antiviral treatment is most effective when you take it within the first five days of symptoms appearing. Avoid touching the blisters as this can also increase the risk of spreading the infection. If your herpes treatment requires you to apply cream to a sore, just gently pat the cream on, being careful not to rub around the surrounding area.
You can ease your symptoms by:
- keeping the affected area clean using plain or salt water to prevent blisters or ulcers from becoming infected
- applying petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to any blisters or ulcers to reduce the pain when passing urine
- asking a healthcare provider to recommend painkilling creams
- avoiding tight clothing because it may irritate the blisters and ulcers.
Dont have sex until you or your partner have finished your treatment, and the blisters or ulcers have gone. If its your first outbreak, its sometimes advised that you check back with a healthcare provider before having sex again, to ensure that your symptoms have gone.
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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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How Is Herpes Transmitted
Herpes is transmitted via secretions in the oral and genital mucosa during active infection. There may or may not be lesions when the infection is active and the mucosa may appear completely normal.
If a person has an HSV-1 cold sore in their mouth, herpes can be transmitted to the genitals during oral sex. HSV-2 occurs in the genitals and can be sexually transmitted from genitals to genitals during sex.
It is possible that someone may not even know they have herpes and have an infection without lesions. If there is a lesion during active infection, the virus will shed for around 20 days during and after the lesion has healed.
One myth that needs to be dispelled is that you will most likely not catch herpes from a toilet seat. Skin on skin contact is virtually the only way that herpes is transmitted. Sinks, bathtubs and showers are all safe from catching the virus. The only transmission risk is sharing cups and silverware used by someone with oral herpes.
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If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs
No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.
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How Is It Spread
Herpes is passed from person-to-person by direct skin-to-skin contact with a person who has the virus , even without visible herpes sores.
It also is possible to pass herpes if one person touches the part of their body that has herpes and then immediately touches another persons mouth or genitals. Sharing sex toys without changing condoms or washing toys may also pass the virus. During a primary first outbreak, it is possible to pass the virus to another area of that persons own body, by touching the sores and then touching another part of their body .
The chance of passing herpes is highest when there is an active outbreak . However, HSV can still be passed when there are no symptoms , but this is less likely. Women who have an active outbreak in late pregnancy can pass the infection to their baby during a vaginal childbirth.
Should You Get Tested
Its a good idea for the partners of people with genital herpes to have a blood test for herpes antibodies. This can help them to decide whether to use antiviral medication as protection, for example. Both partners may already have the same virus type. Then theres no reason to take medication to protect each other.
If one of the partners has HSV-1 or cold sores and the other one has HSV-2 or genital herpes, they could infect one another with the other virus. If one partner has herpes viruses in their body and the other doesnt, condoms are one way to prevent infection.
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Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
When To See A Doctor
People who experience persistent or recurrent cold sores should consider seeing a doctor for treatment, especially if over-the-counter options do not provide effective relief. A doctor may be able to identify cold sore triggers and provide stronger treatments.
If a person has a weakened immune system or other underlying health issues, they should visit their doctor before trying OTC treatments. Such treatments may prove less effective than prescription medications, and the longer a person waits for effective treatment, the greater the likelihood of the cold sore worsening.
Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about cold sores:
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Preventing The Spread Of Herpes
Even when you do not have sores, you can pass the virus to someone during sexual or other close contact. To protect others:
- Let any sexual partner know that you have herpes before having sex. Allow them to decide what to do.
- Use latex or polyurethane condoms, and avoid sex during symptomatic outbreaks.
- Do not kiss or have oral sex when you have a sore on the lips or inside the mouth.
- Do not share your towels, toothbrush, or lipstick. Make sure dishes and utensils you use are washed well with detergent before others use them.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water after touching a sore.
- Consider using daily antiviral medicine to limit viral shedding and reduce the risk of passing the virus to your partner.
- You may also want to consider getting your partner tested even if they have never had an outbreak. If you both have the herpes virus, there is no risk for transmission.
Avoid Spreading The Virus
The following may reduce the risk of spreading the herpes simplex virus:
If you have sores on your face:
Do not kiss anyone
Do not have oral sex
Do not share items such as silverware, cups, towels, and lip balms
If you have tingling, burning, itching, or tenderness where you had a herpes sore, keep that area of your body away from others.
You can prevent spreading the sores to other parts of your body by:
Washing your hands after touching a cold sore.
Using a cotton-tip swab to apply herpes medicine to a cold sore also helps.
When you have sores or symptoms do not have sex with uninfected partners.
If you do not have sores or symptoms, use a latex condom to lower the risk of spreading the virus. You should know that even with a condom, it is possible to spread the virus if it lies on nearby skin that the condom does not cover.
If you are pregnant tell your doctor if you or your partner has genital herpes. You may need to take medicine at the end of your pregnancy to prevent passing the virus to your baby.
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When Are Cold Sores Contagious
A cold sore is contagious as soon as symptoms begin, even if blisters havent appeared. They can also be passed to others even when there are no symptoms. To avoid transmitting the cold sore virus:
- Avoid intimate contact including kissing and other skin-to-skin contact until the lesion is healed.
- Dont share personal care items such as utensils, towels, or toothbrushes.
- Dont share cosmetics such as lipstick, lip gloss, or foundation.
- Replace your toothbrush when you get a cold sore to prevent reinfection, and replace it again after the sore has healed.
- Dont pick at a cold sore, and wash your hands each time you apply ointment or touch the sore.
- If sunlight triggers cold sores, apply sunscreen daily to the area where cold sores develop.
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.
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Myth #: You Cant Get Herpes If Youre Not Sexually Active
Herpes can be passed from skin-to-skin contact that isnt sexual in nature, Hawkins tells me. If you look at the leotards that wrestlers wear, if you have upper thigh genital herpes in an area thats low enough that it shows under the leotard, someone can get it, too, Hawkins tells me.
With that said, Hawkins tells me you dont need to worry about getting it from trying on a swimsuit or sharing a towel, because the virus doesnt live outside of the body for long. Now if youre trying on bathing suits without any underwear underneath, there are plenty of wonderful infections that you can get even if herpes is not one of them, she says. People are still strongly advised to make sure theyre using proper hygienic options.
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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?
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What Are The Symptoms
Most people never have symptoms, or they are so mild that they do not know they have the virus. Sometimes, symptoms may not appear for months or years. Symptoms vary from person-to-person and many people who do get symptoms may not realize that its caused by HSV.
Herpes infections have three different outbreak types:
- Primary first outbreak
- Non-primary first outbreak
- Recurrent outbreak
A primary outbreak happens when someone first gets herpes symptoms usually beginning 2 to 21 days after contact.
Some people may experience warning signs, called prodrome symptoms such as itching, burning, and tingling of the skin at the site where the blisters or sores may appear, followed by painful herpes sores or tiny blisters. Other symptoms may include pain down either leg or in the buttocks, swollen or tender glands in the groin, fever, painful urination, body aches, feeling tired and unwell. This is more common with a primary outbreak. When the blisters break, painful shallow ulcers appear. These ulcers crust over and usually heal in 7 to 14 days. A primary outbreak is generally worse than future outbreaks.
A non-primary first outbreak is when someone who already has one type of herpes, gets the second type. It is often milder and is unlikely to cause full-body symptoms.
Outbreaks generally happen less over time, the symptoms are milder, and will often go unnoticed. Genital herpes caused by HSV-1 generally does not recur frequently.
How Do You Get Herpes Type 1
HSV-1 is usually spread through oral-to-oral contact. HSV-1 can also be spread by oral-to-genital or genital-to-oral contact.
Oral herpes isnt only spread through kissingit can also be spread through contacting saliva that contains the virus through touching your sore and rubbing your eyes without washing hands thoroughly between.. Most people with HSV-1 were infected when they were kids.
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