It Is A Sore But Not A Herpes
While genital ulceration is often associated with herpes, it can be the result of several other conditions, including but not limited to, other sexually transmitted diseases, inflammatory conditions, skin irritation, and allergic skin lesions. In addition to herpes, the main sexually transmitted diseases that present with a genital ulcer are primary syphilis and chancroid. In the United States, syphilis infection is more common than chancroid.
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.
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Pain And/or Itching In Or Around The Blisters
Lesions are usually very painful to touchespecially during the first herpes outbreak, which tends to be more severe. “The main thing that brings women into the office with herpes is pain,” said Dr. Shirazian.
Bumps that you find just by chance when sudsing up in the shower or toweling off probably aren’t herpes. “Herpes lesions will make themselves known and felt,” said Dr. Shirazian. They can also itch, especially as they begin to scab over and heal.
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Why Am I Getting Sores On My Tongue
The sores that you might be seeing on your tongue may be a result of the simplex virus, which causes herpes inside the mouth. This can often be accompanied by blisters on your tongue. In addition, it can affect the lips, gums, the inner lining of your cheeks, and the roof of the mouth. These blisters gradually become fluid-filled sores.
If you are not careful, the fluid from these sores can lead to the infection spreading to other areas like your throat. The sores on the tongue or in your mouth might recur because the simplex virus can reside inactive for years in the body. Tongue sores will generally go away after 9-10 days.
If you experience severe pain and irritation while eating or drinking, consult a doctor.
Sometimes There Are No Symptoms
Some people who contract herpes can go for years before having their first outbreak. Its even possible to have no symptoms at all but still pass on the virus. For some reason, male carriers of herpes seem to have no symptoms but still be infectious more often than females.
But why? Everyones body and immune systems is different. Plus, some strains of the virus are less aggressive than others. Studies also suggest that people who already have HSV-1 are less likely to show symptoms of genital HSV-2 as quickly as those who dont.
Interestingly, the CDC doesnt recommend herpes testing without the presence of symptoms. One reason is that a potential false positive result would have undue psychological costs for the patient. They also dont believe routine tests would have a large enough impact to curb the spread of the infection.
Without symptoms, how do you know if you have herpes thats dormant? Talk to your physician and decide if your symptoms or history warrant a check-up. If you know that you have been exposed to the virus by sexual or other physical contact, you may decide you have a valid reason to be concerned. Remember that herpes can spread even while using a condom. Whats more, oral herpes can be spread to the genitals from oral sex.
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What Causes Cold Sores
Cold sores are sometimes called oral herpes because they are caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 . This virus is very common and highly contagious. It spreads through saliva or close contact often through kissing or by sharing utensils, straws, towels or lip balm with someone who has a cold sore.
You may not know if you have been infected with HSV-1 because symptoms of exposure to HSV-1 are generally mild. Children sometimes develop a fever and small blisters inside and around their mouths when they are first exposed to HSV-1.
What Are The Types Of Herpes Viruses
Herpes is a group of contagious viruses. All of these viruses cause blisters and sores. Some of the more common herpes viruses include:
- Type 1: HSV-1, or oral herpes, causes cold sores to form on lips, gums, tongue and inside the mouth. It can cause genital herpes in some cases This type usually spreads through saliva when you kiss someone with open herpes sores. You can also get HSV-1 by sharing items like toothbrushes, lipsticks or eating utensils.
- Type 2: HSV-2 causes genital herpes.
- Herpes zoster: This virus causes chickenpox and shingles.
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How Do You Get Herpes
Herpes is not one infection. Its the umbrella term for a family of eight related viruses, including those that cause chickenpox, mononucleosis, and shingles. Two of these viruses, HSV-1 and HSV-2, can cause genital herpes. HSV-2 causes most cases though, while HSV-1 mainly manifests as cold sores on lips.
Both viruses spend most of their time lying dormant in nerve clusters we dont fully understand what determines when or why the viruses go to sleep, or how long they rest. When they wake up, they start to reproduce and try to spread to new hosts. This is when symptomatic people get blisters and/or irritation. Copies of the virus spread out from these symptomatic areas, especially open sores.
However, asymptomatic people can shed viral copies as well. Some research suggests that most people get herpes from asymptomatic folks, especially those who dont know theyre infected. The ease of unwitting transmission helps to explain why genital herpes is so common. Most studies suggest that at least one in six people between the ages of 14 and 49 have HSV-2.
The viruses die so quickly when they leave the human body that its exceedingly rare, if not functionally impossible, to contract them through indirect contact, like sharing a drink or food with someone with cold sores. But if they come into direct contact with a mucous membrane, or an open cut on any part of the body, the viruses can set up shop there.
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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.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Most individuals infected with HSV are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed or are mistaken for another skin condition. 9 When symptoms do occur, herpes lesions typically appear as one or more vesicles, or small blisters, on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The average incubation period for an initial herpes infection is 4 days after exposure. 10 The vesicles break and leave painful ulcers that may take two to four weeks to heal after the initial herpes infection. 5,10 Experiencing these symptoms is referred to as having a first herpes outbreak or episode.
When Should You Call Your Doctor
If you havent been diagnosed with genital herpes, call your doctor if you have:
- Painful blisters or sores in the genital or pelvic area.
- Burning or pain while urinating, or you cant urinate.
- Reason to think youve been exposed to genital herpes.
If you have been diagnosed with genital herpes, call your doctor if you are having frequent outbreaks or if you cant pass urine or are constipated.
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, or if you think you have genital herpes, tell your doctor.
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What Are Canker Sores
Canker sores are painful sores inside the mouth. Canker sores are twice as common in women and usually first appear between the ages of ten and twenty although they may appear as early as age two.
Symptoms: Although canker sores can appear anywhere on the mucous membranes of the mouth, they most frequently appear on the inner surfaces of the cheeks and lips, tongue and soft palate.
They are usually oval or round with a grayish-white eroded surface surrounded by a red inflamed area. The sores may occur singly or in groups and vary from about 1/8 inch to 1 -1/4 inch in diameter.
The sore may be painful for three or four days, but complete healing usually takes ten to fifteen days. Canker sores may recur many times each year.
Causes: No one knows what causes canker sores. They may be caused by a virus, may be a form of allergic reaction or may result from an auto-immune condition . Some people have also found eating citrus fruit and other acidic foods increase the occurrence of canker sores, but this has not been scientifically proven.
Factors that may trigger these sores are injury or irritation , smoking, stress, a diet lacking in vitamin B12, folic acid or iron and the onset of menstruation for some women.
Treatment: Nothing cures canker sores or prevents recurrence. There are, however, ways to ease discomfort during the 3-4 days when the sores are painful and also prevent infection.
When to seek medical care: Consult a clinician if:
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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How To Know If You Have Herpes
This article was medically reviewed by Lacy Windham, MD. Dr. Windham is a board certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist in Tennessee. She attended medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and completed her residency at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2010, where she was awarded the Most Outstanding Resident in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Most Outstanding Resident in Oncology, and Most Outstanding Resident Overall.There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 842,512 times.
Research shows that around 1 out of every 6 people has some form of herpes.XTrustworthy SourceCenters for Disease Control and PreventionMain public health institute for the US, run by the Dept. of Health and Human ServicesGo to source The herpes simplex viruses are the viruses responsible for oral and genital herpes infections, and they can cause sores, itching, painful urination, and vaginal discharge. Although doctors can treat symptoms, ease pain, and reduce the possibility of spreading the virus, herpes cannot be cured. Studies show that you can find out if you have herpes by examining high risk behaviors, recognizing the symptoms, and getting tested by a medical professional.XTrustworthy SourceFamilyDoctor.orgFamily-focused medical advice site run by the American Academy of Family DoctorsGo to source
What Are The Symptoms Of Cold Sores
Cold sores start with an itchy and tingling sensation usually on the mouth, lips or nose and may form small blisters that crust after 3 days.
Cold sores usually clear up after 2 weeks without leaving any scars. They can be highly contagious, even when the blisters arent present. The virus can spread between people by direct physical contact, such as kissing, skin-to-skin contact and sharing drink containers, eating utensils, towels or toothbrushes with someone who already has a cold sore.
As well as a blister-like spot, the following symptoms are also common:
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Genital Herpes Is Common Why Doesnt Cdc Recommend Testing Everyone For This Std
CDC does not recommend herpes testing for people without symptoms. This is because diagnosing genital herpes in someone without symptoms has not shown any change in their sexual behavior nor has it stopped the virus from spreading. Also, false positive test results are possible. Even if you do not have symptoms, you should talk openly and honestly about your sexual history with your doctor to find out if you should be tested for any STDs, including herpes.
Although CDC does not recommend that everyone get tested for herpes, herpes testing may be useful in some situations. Herpes blood tests might be useful
- If you have genital symptoms that could be related to herpes,
- If you have a sex partner with genital herpes, or
- If you want a complete STD exam, especially if you have multiple sex partners.
Please note that while a herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection, it will not be able to tell you who gave you the 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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What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like 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, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
When Should I Call My Doctor About My Cold Sores
You should seek treatment for a cold sore if you have:
- Numerous, frequent or extremely painful cold sores
- An outbreak that doesnt clear up on its own in about 2 weeks
- Sores on your eyes, hands, genitals, or another part of your body
- A compromised immune system, or if you are undergoing chemotherapy or taking medication that weakens your immune system
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What’s Involved In Herpes Testing
If there are blisters or sores, a healthcare provider may gently swab the area to take a fluid sample and test it. If there are no sores, but you are concerned you may have been exposed, a blood test may done. Herpes tests are not normally recommended unless you have symptoms.
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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