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:
Are There Treatments And Medications For Oral Herpes
Treatment includes medication for fever and taking plenty of fluids.
- A topical anesthetic such as viscous lidocaine may be prescribed to relieve pain associated with oral blisters and lesions.
- Oral or IV medication does exist for HSV but is not recommended for people with a normal immune system. It is used only for people with weakened immune systems, infants younger than 6 weeks of age, or people with severe disease.
- Some people may require hospital admission.
- Those with severe local infection
- People whose infection has spread to other organ systems
- People with weakened immune systems
- Dehydrated individuals who need IV hydration
- Infants younger than 6 weeks of age
Mild uncomplicated eruptions of herpes simplex require no treatment. Severe infection may require treatment with an antiviral agent. Oral antiviral drugs include
To reduce the chance of acquiring HSV-1, avoid touching saliva, skin, or mucous membranes of people who have HSV-1 lesions. Prevention of genital HSV may be accomplished by latex condoms, but protection is never 100%. Spermicides do not protect against HSV. Some clinicians recommend using dental dams during oral sex, but like condoms, they are not 100% protective.
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Herpes On Face Causes
Many people dont know what causes herpes on the face and wonder why a herpes comes out on the face. The answer is that this disease is caused by a virus.
More than 100 species of the herpesvirus family are known, but fortunately only eight of them affect humans. Herpes on the face is most often caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 and to a lesser extent by herpes simplex type 2 , both belonging to the alpha subfamily of the family Herpesviradae.
Both viruses have common characteristics that differentiate them from the rest of the viruses of the alpha subfamily, which is why their name contains the adjective simplex.
Some people say genital herpes comes out on the face to express herpes simplex virus type 2 affects the face. People who express themselves in this way confuse the disease with its cause: genital herpes is the disease and the virus is its cause.
You may also have heard the phrase cold sore on face as a misnomer for facial herpes.
The phrase herpes on face from sun expresses the sun is the cause of this disease. In a sense, persons who hold this belief have some reason because sun exposure can trigger the activation of the true cause of facial herpes: the virus.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a recurrent outbreak. Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.
How do genital herpes first appear?
When symptoms occur, theyre usually worse during the first outbreak or flare-up . Symptoms typically appear within two to 20 days after infection. Active symptoms may last up to four weeks.
You may experience:
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How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.
If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.
How To Avoid Transmitting Hsv
If you have a cold sore, be sure to wash your hands after touching it and be especially careful to avoid touching your own eyes after touching your cold sore. It is the fluid contained in the blisters that is considered to be the most infectious. While you have a cold sore it is also important to avoid:
- sharing toothbrushes
- sharing drinking glasses or bottles
- sharing cutlery
- sharing towels or other personal items
- close contact with newborn and young babies
- close contact with children with burns or eczema
- close contact with people with suppressed immune systems.
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Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
What If I Want To Wait
People at high risk from COVID-19 are encouraged to get the new booster when theyre due. After all, BA.5 still is spreading widely and hospitalization rates in older adults have increased since spring.
Most Americans eligible for an updated booster have gone at least six months since their last shot, according to the CDC plenty of time that another shot should trigger a good immune response.
But the original formula still offers good protection against severe illness and death, especially after that all-important first booster. So it’s not uncommon for younger and healthier people to time boosters to take advantage of a shot’s temporary jump in protection against even a mild infection, like Wherry did.
A healthy 51-year-old, Wherry said he postponed the second booster recommended for his age for seven months, until late summer — just before an international trip that he knew would increase his risk from unmasked crowds.
With the updated boosters now rolling out, he plans to evaluate in four or five months when presumably his antibody level starts waning and he’s planning holiday gatherings, whether he’d benefit from another shot.
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Contact Dermatitis Can Be Mistaken For Herpes
Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that can cause red, itchy, cracked, dry, or scaly skin, blisters, or a rash. Like herpes, it recurs, and while it’s not an STD, when it appears in the mouth or genital area, it may be mistaken for herpes. However, unlike herpes, contact dermatitis can happen anywhere on the skin and is caused by direct contact with an irritant or something you’re allergic to, per the Mayo Clinic. It’s not caused by a virus.
Contact dermatitis usually occurs within minutes to hours after touching an irritant. Common causes include poison ivy and reactions to medication, cosmetics, detergents, and jewelry. The skin rash from contact dermatitis usually clears up in a few weeks.
The best way to prevent contact dermatitis is to identify whats causing it and avoid touching that item or substance again. Allergy testing can help identify the cause.
While contact dermatitis is generally not a serious condition, it can be itchy and uncomfortable. When the rash is present, try using cool, wet compresses or anti-itch creams to soothe it. Antihistamine pills can help reduce the itchiness. Avoid scratching the area: Doing so can make symptoms worse and open the door to a bacterial or fungal infection. If your itching is severe, you should see your primary care provider or a dermatologist for topical steroid medication.
How To Prevent Herpes
But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection like condoms and dental dams when you have sex helps to lower your risk of getting an STD.
Herpes can live on areas of your body that arent protected by condoms , so condoms wont always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.
Dont have sex with anyone during a herpes outbreak, because thats when it spreads most easily. But herpes can also spread when there are no sores or symptoms, so its important to use condoms and dental dams, even if everything looks and feels A-OK.
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How Is Genital Herpes Transmitted
Genital herpes is spread through direct sexual contact of mucous membranes , herpes lesions and fluids, as well as through genital fluids and saliva .
Viral shedding occurs when someone is contagious and able to pass on the virus.
If herpes blisters are present, viral shedding will occur, making the person very contagious . If no blisters are present, this does not not mean that they are not contagious. Viral shedding can still happens in absence of active lesions, which means a person can still pass on the genital herpes virus to an unsuspecting partner .
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.
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How To Avoid Genital Herpes
Using condoms reduces the risk of contracting all sexually transmitted infections including genital herpes.
Genital herpes can be passed on even when there are not blisters present.
However, the blisters and sores are highly infectious, so if you or a partner have cold sores or genital herpes:
- avoid kissing when you, or a partner, have cold sores around the mouth
- avoid oral sex when you, or a partner, have mouth or genital sores
How Do You Get Herpes
There are two different herpes viruses: Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 .
While rare, a mother can pass genital herpes to the baby during vaginal childbirth.
Herpes is most easily transmitted when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also shed and be passed to others when there are no sores and the skin looks totally normal. Most people get herpes from someone who does not have any sores. When used consistently and correctly, condoms help protect against herpes and many other STDs.
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How Can I Confirm Whether I Have Genital Herpes
Herpes doesnt always cause symptoms, so your best bet is to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. They might be able to diagnose you just by looking at your symptoms.
They may also take a fluid sample from a blister and test it or have you do a blood test.
Youll likely be asked some questions about your sexual history. Its very important that youre honest in your answers. This will help to determine whether you should be tested for any other STIs while youre there.
Remember, theres no cure for herpes. But antiviral medication can help to prevent the virus from reproducing and reduce the number of outbreaks you have. This can also reduce your risk of passing the virus to others.
Common antiviral medications used for herpes include:
How Do I Talk With People About Having Herpes
It might feel scary to admit you have herpes, but talking about things can really ease your mind. You could lean on a close, non-judgmental friend that you trust to keep the conversation private. Parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and other family members can also be a source of comfort. Remember, herpes is really common, so its possible the person youre talking to has herpes, too.
There are a lot of online support groups for people who have herpes, and the American Sexual Health Association has a list of support groups that meet in person.
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What Can I Do If I Have Herpes
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they will always have the virus and can give it to others. But you are not alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the US and worldwide. Exact numbers of people affected are not known. This is because many people dont realize they have it, especially if symptoms are minor and are not bothersome. 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 , 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 talk to your doctor if this is a right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. Women with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your health care provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
Herpes Myths To Stop Freaking Out About
A surprising number of people you know probably have herpes.
Shocked? You shouldnt be, since the virus is very common. According to the World Health Organization, 3.7 billion people under age 50 have herpes simplex virus type 1 thats 67 percent of the global population in that age bracket. Another 417 million people between ages 15 and 49 worldwide have herpes simplex virus type 2 .
Many people consider HSV-1 more benign, but it turns out theres not much difference between the two types of virus. While its true that HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause genital sores or blisters, type 1 can do the same thing.
One big misconception is that cold sores are caused by HSV-1 and genital herpes are always type 2, but thats not always the case, says Sarah Vensel, a physician assistant in San Francisco. Cold sores are so common theyve been normalized at this point. But genital herpes is sometimes the exact same virus just in a different location.
Not only is herpes incredibly common its also totally manageable. Allow us to set your mind at ease and debunk three widespread herpes myths:
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Can You Pop Herpes Blisters
Like pimples, you may be tempted to pop a cold sore or a herpes blister, but by popping, you are only doing more harm. Popping a cold sore, a genital herpes blister, or a pimple increases the risk that you will worsen the existing infection, introduce a secondary infection, or irritate your skin further. Popping can also make it more likely to form a scar.
It is best to leave the pimples or blisters alone to heal on their own, but if they are too uncomfortable or painful, talk to your doctor.
Dont Risk It!
Although you can likely tell herpes sores and pimples apart just by looking at them, a medical diagnosis will let you know for sure.