How Herpes Is Diagnosed
Your first step is to make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you have a lesion on your genitals or believe you were exposed to herpes. “Google really can’t tell you if you have genital herpes or not,” said Dr. Shim. A diagnosis of herpes can be made with an exam, but your healthcare provider will also order a culture swab from the sore to confirm the virus.
Your healthcare provider can give you advice on easing symptoms, shortening their duration, and preventing outbreaks in the future. Taking a daily dose of the antiviral drug Valtrex can decrease transmission to a non-infected partner, said Dr. Shirazian. It can also prevent recurrent outbreaks for the person with the infection. Maintaining general healthful habitseating nutritious foods, staying active, and getting enough sleepgo a long way to keeping your immune system able to minimize outbreaks.
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.
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 .
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Syphilis: A Greater Health Threat Than Herpes
Syphilis and genital herpes are both STDs that can cause sores in the genital area. Like oral herpes, syphilis can also cause mouth sores, which often clear without treatment. But despite these similarities in symptoms, the two diseases differ in their causes syphilis is caused by a bacteria and herpes by a virus and the health risks they pose.
For most people the exceptions being infants and people who have weakened immune systems or who are chronically ill herpes is more of an annoyance than a dangerous disease. But untreated syphilis can lead to severe complications, including bone, joint, liver, heart, and brain damage.
There are four stages of syphilis, according to the CDC, each with different signs and symptoms. In the primary stage, a painless sore or sores develop where the bacteria first entered the skin or mucous membrane. In the secondary stage, you may develop a skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. In the latent stage of syphilis, there are no signs or symptoms, and in the tertiary stage, the bacterial infection can damage the heart, brain, and other organs of the body.
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?
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When To Seek Medical Care
When to call the doctor
- Because the sores are painful, you may have difficulty eating or drinking. To prevent dehydration, call your doctor as soon as you cannot eat or drink.
- Call your doctor immediately if any of these symptoms, which suggest dehydration, occur:
- A decrease in urination
When to go to the hospital
Signs and symptoms of dehydration may warrant going to a hospital’s emergency department.
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.
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When Should Someone Seek Medical Care For Cold Sores
When to call the doctor
- Because cold sores are painful, people may have difficulty eating or drinking. To prevent dehydration, people should call their doctor if they cannot eat or drink adequately.
- If any of these symptoms, which suggest dehydration, occur, medical care should be obtained:
- A decrease in urination
When to go to the hospital
Signs and symptoms of dehydration usually warrant going to a hospital’s emergency department. Infants, especially under 6 weeks of age or if the infant appears to slow urine output or decrease fluid intake, should be evaluated by their pediatrician or in an emergency center if oral sores appear. Individuals with immune suppression should contact their doctors if they suspect a HSV-1 infection.
What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
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Causes Of Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is usually caused by the herpes simplex 1 virus, or HSV-1. Sometimes, however, herpes simplex virus type 2 the virus that usually causes genital herpes can transmit to the mouth during oral sex, also causing oral herpes. The opposite is also true, as you can get HSV-1 on your genitals.
Herpes simplex 1 usually spreads through intimate contact with an infected person. People with active outbreaks are the most contagious, but there is always a small chance that a person can be contagious even without an outbreak.
HSV-1 is often passed through kissing and oral sex, but sharing cups, eating utensils, and other items can also pass along the virus.
You can reduce your chances of getting oral herpes by not kissing or having oral sex with someone who is having an active outbreak. Once their skin has healed and looks normal, you can resume intimate activities.
Additionally, using a safer-sex barrier like a dental dam a thin piece of latex that protects against direct mouth-to-genital contact during oral sex can reduce the chances of getting oral herpes, regardless of whether a person has a current outbreak
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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Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.
What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?
For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.
How To Prevent Herpes On The Tongue
Herpes, alas, doesn’t have a known cure, so prevention is the best way to protect yourself from this virus’s lifelong effects. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, when someone has an active sore, it’s best to avoid physical contact because of transmission risk.
Awareness is the key to prevention. When you feel you’re on the cusp of an outbreak, contact your doctor about how potentially to prevent sores from developing. Also, be aware that saliva, mucous membranes, and skin all carry active viral components that can infect others and reinfect yourself.
No matter what prevention methods you take, you might not be able to protect yourself. Occasionally, herpes can be actively spread even when the afflicted person has no symptoms, which is one of the primary reasons many people get infected. The best you can do is ask people with whom you’re in a relationship if they’ve ever had a herpes outbreak.
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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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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.
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Treating A Herpes Cold Sore
Because a herpes cold sore is caused by the virus, it needs to be treated with antiviral medicines. These medicines include:
- Valacyclovir , Famciclovir and Acyclovir . These meds can help to relieve pain and discomfort. Also, they can keep the sores from popping up in the first place. To get the best results, you need to take them before an outbreak occurs. Once the sores are present, these medicines will not help much.
- Prosurx- Nanomedicine HSV-1 & HSV-2 treatment. Prosurx is one of the best over-the-counter topical medicines to treat a herpes cold sore. This cream can provide immediate relief from herpes symptoms. Also, it can help to prevent the sores before they start. Prosurx can attack HSV-1 at its root, thus helping prevent future outbreaks. You can apply this every time you think you have a herpes cold sore. This will stop your outbreak, soothe the symptoms and heal your damaged skin.
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How Long Do Sores From Herpes Simplex Last
If youre infected with HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes, you may notice tingling or burning around your mouth in the days before a cold sore appears. These blisters break open and ooze fluid before forming a crust. Usually, sores last for seven to 10 days.
If youre infected with HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes, your first outbreak may last between two to four weeks. Recurrent outbreaks usually last between three to seven days.
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Fever Blisters Or Bumps
What causes fever blisters? HSV- type 1 or type 2 cause cold sore fever blisters it depends on whether the fluid-filled blisters are located on the genitals, lips, under nose or near mouth. Even though, an outbreak of fever blisters can be triggered by stress, exposure of lips to direct sunlight and suppressed immune system.
Fever blisters will appear on same spot on lips or genitals once the virus gets activated. This implies there is possibility of having a recurring lip herpes episodes.
What else? Fever blister stage presents lip herpes as lip bumps. Other symptoms that may come before the fever blisters appear include:
- Difficulty or painful swallowing
Besides the lips, patients can also get the blisters on gums, mouth and throat especially in cases of recurrence in herpes infection.
When To Call The Doctor
Even though HSV sores can hurt and be unsightly, most cases of herpes do not cause serious illness. The sores go away in a few days. Contact the health provider if:
- Sores are present and you think it might be a first herpes infection. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the sores. If the sores have not healed, sometimes a laboratory test is done.
- Sores do not heal by themselves or show signs of infection such as pus, spreading redness or fever.
- Sores are near the eyes.
- You have another health condition with a weakened immune system.
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How To Check If You Have Asymptomatic Herpes
If you have no herpes symptoms but believe you might have been exposed to the virus, you can take a herpes test to verify whether or not youre infected.
The most accurate herpes testing method for asymptomatic people is an IgG test, which checks for the presence of IgG antibodies in your blood. These antibodies can signal a herpes infection using certain testing methods, they can also be used to differentiate between HSV-1 and HSV-2.
IgG antibodies can take several months to form after a herpes infection, meaning youll typically need to wait for 12 to 16 weeks before taking an IgG test to make sure you receive an accurate result.
If youre concerned that you might have asymptomatic herpes, the best approach is to speak to your doctor about testing options. Your doctor will be able to schedule a test based on the date of your potential exposure to the virus and provide you with an accurate diagnosis. If you discover you do have HSV-1 or HSV-2, the most important thing is to not panic. These viruses are extremely common, and there are a variety of anti-viral medications out there to help minimize the severity and requency of outbreaks. Most notably, vacyclovir.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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