Tuesday, September 27, 2022

How Do You Transfer Herpes

Herpes Myths To Stop Freaking Out About

How Contagious is Herpes?

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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How Will My Healthcare Provider Know If I Have Genital Herpes

Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at any sores that are present. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. If sores are not present, a blood test may be used to look for HSV antibodies.

Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider about herpes testing and 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 when you got the infection.

What Are Cold Sores

Cold sores, sometimes called fever blisters, are groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. Often the first sign of a cold sore is a spot that tingles, burns, or itches. A blister usually forms within 24 hours. The skin around the blisters is often red, swollen, and sore. The blisters may break open, leak a clear fluid, and then scab over after a few days. They usually heal in several days to 2 weeks.

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How Effective Is Medication At Preventing Infection

If you have genital herpes, you will probably be somewhat less likely to infect your partner if you use antiviral medication for prevention. The medications used for this purpose include aciclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. They must be taken every day over a long period of time, though. One study showed that over a period of eight months,

  • 4 out of 100 people became infected when the partner with the virus took a placebo, and
  • 2 out of 100 people became infected when the partner with the virus took antiviral medication every day.

These couples were also advised to use condoms as well but many didn’t use them consistently. So its not clear whether taking antiviral medication can lower the risk of infection even further if you always use condoms anyway, or whether using condoms is just as effective on its own.

Whether or not you would like to use preventive medication is ultimately an individual decision. Many factors can play a role, such as how long you or your partner have had the infection, how frequent and severe the outbreaks are, whether you are male or female, the frequency of sexual contact and whether you use condoms.

What Is Neonatal Herpes

Effective Treatments for 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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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.

Can I Get Genital Herpes More Than Once

There isnt a cure for HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. Infections can come back . 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.

After infection, the virus moves from skin cells to nerve cells. In the nerve cells, it becomes inactive . Certain things may reactivate the virus, such as:

  • Illness or fever.

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Whats The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Oral Herpes

Because there are 2 different kinds of herpes simplex viruses that can live on many body parts, lots of people are confused about what to call these infections. But its actually pretty simple:

  • When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 on or around your genitals , its called genital herpes.

  • When you get either HSV-1 or HSV-2 in or around your lips, mouth, and throat, its called oral herpes. Oral herpes sores are sometimes called cold sores or fever blisters.

HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes, and HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes each strain prefers to live on its favorite area. But its totally possible for both types of herpes simplex to infect either area. For example, you can get HSV-1 on your genitals if someone with a cold sore on their lips gives you oral sex. And you can get HSV-2 in your mouth if you give oral sex to someone with HSV-2 on their genitals.

How To Diagnose Herpes Infections

Herpes simplex (Cold sore): All you need to know

Diagnosis of herpes infections is done by following methods-

  • Physical examination- Here the doctor does a thorough physical examination, checks the mouth, lips and genital areas for sores. Doctors may ask questions about the symptoms and a detailed medical history, to identify the cause and type of viral infection.
  • HSV testing Also known as herpes culture test, here the doctor takes a swab sample of the fluid from the blister or sores present in the oral cavity or genitals and sends it for lab tests. This is to identify the virus causing the infections.
  • Blood tests This is done to find the presence of antibodies . This helps to identify the infections in patients who dont have any sores or blisters.

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Can Herpes Be Spread Without Symptoms

Most people get herpes from someone who doesnt have any sores. Sometimes those who know they are infected spread the virus between outbreaks when no signs or symptoms are present. This is called asymptomatic transmission. It may live in your body for years without causing any symptoms, so its really hard to know for sure when and how you got it. Thats why so many people have herpes its a pretty sneaky infection.

Because the virus dies quickly outside the body, you cant get herpes from hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or sitting on toilet seats.

If Someone With Herpes Has No Sores Can It Still Be Passed On

If someone has herpes but no sores, can it still be passed on to another person? Spence*

Yes. Even when no sores are present, the herpes is still active in the body and can spread to others.

If you or your partner has herpes, reduce the risk of spread by:

  • using a condom every time you have sex . The herpes virus can live outside of the area that a condom covers, though, so a condom may not always prevent the spread.
  • avoiding sex during outbreaks
  • making sure the infected person takes antiviral medicine every day as prescribed by the health care provider

The only way to completely prevent herpes and other STDs is to not have sex .

  • *Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

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Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles

Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus , which causes chickenpox earlier in life. The natural history of varicella zoster infection is similar to genital herpes infection in that VZV also becomes latent in the sensory nerve roots. Later in life the virus may exit, causing shingles.

Recurrences in shingles cause blister lesions in a single area of skin called a dermatome. Shingles is not a sexually transmitted infection and is independent from genital herpes.

How Do You Get Genital Herpes

Herpes Simplex

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that causes blisters or sores on the skin on or around the genitals. Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 and type 2. Once you have been infected with herpes simplex virus, it stays in your body forever.

You cant catch genital herpes by sharing cups, towels or from toilet seats. You can still share a bed, kiss or cuddle your partner and not risk infecting them with herpes.

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Month Three To Multiple Years: Long

Most peoples pain decreases within two to three months, but for some the pain lingers longer. That persistent pain, called postherpetic neuralgia, is the most common complication of shingles, impacting up to 18% of folks with the infection. PHN develops when nerve fibers are damaged at the site of the shingles rash. The pain may be constant or intermittent, moderate, severe or even incapacitatingand it may last for months or even years. Its experienced as burning, itching, a stabbing pain or an altered sensation, says Dr. Rosen. While anyone can suffer with post herpetic neuralgia, your risk increases with age and with a history of chronic illness, such as asthma or diabetes.

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What You Need To Know

  • Herpes simplex virus , also known as genital herpes, is most likely to be spread when an infected person is having an outbreak, but it can also be transmitted without any symptoms being present.
  • Medications can help reduce your symptoms, speed up the healing of an outbreak and make you less contagious.
  • If you know you have genital herpes before becoming pregnant, your physician will monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy. If you have an active outbreak at the time of delivery, cesarean section may be recommended.

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How Can You Stop Cold Sores From Spreading

Follow a few simple steps to help stop cold sores from spreading.

1. Dont Touch

Touching is how cold sores are spread. The only time you should touch a cold sore is when youre applying cream. The less you touch it, the less likely it is that youll spread it elsewhere around your body or to someone else. This applies from the first tingle to when its totally disappeared. If youre applying make-up around the area, use a disposable applicator such as a cotton swab rather than your fingers.

2. Wash Your Hands

You should do this after touching your cold sore and before touching your eyes, contact lenses, genitals or any area of broken skin.

3. Dont Kiss

This means any sort of kiss, even on the cheek. Its important to be extra careful around babies, children, pregnant women or people with lowered immunity. Most people get HSV-1 as a child through an affectionate kiss from an infected adult.

4. Avoid Oral Sex

Abstain from engaging in oral sex when you have symptoms of a cold sore, as you can pass on the HSV-1 virus, giving your partner an infection in their genital area.

5. Dont Share Personal Items

This covers food, eating utensils, straws, cups, glasses, lipsticks, lip balm, cold sore cream and anything else that has come into contact with your saliva or cold sore.

6. Change Your Toothbrush

The virus can lurk in the bristles of your toothbrush so treat yourself to a new one after the blister has formed and again after the attack has cleared up.

7. Avoid Your Triggers

Is There A Treatment For Genital Herpes

Protecting Against Herpes

Several medicines can help. Acyclovir , famciclovir and valacyclovir can be used for genital herpes. Your doctor can prescribe one of these medicines for you. There are two ways to take the medicine: suppressive and episodic.

Suppressive treatment keeps herpes sores from coming back. You have to take one or more pills every day for a long time. This can be expensive. When you stop taking the pills, the sores might come back again. However, if you have many sores and they hurt a lot, ask your doctor about suppressive therapy.

With episodic treatment, you only take medicine when you start to get a sore. The medicine makes the sore hurt less and go away faster. This works best if you take the medicine within a few hours after the first signs that you are getting a sore. Episodic treatment doesnt keep sores from coming back another time.

Take good care of yourself and eat a healthy diet, because the sores often come back when your resistance is weak.

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Signs And Symptoms Of Genital Herpes

Many people with genital herpes have mild symptoms or no herpes symptoms at all. In addition, people often mistake mild symptoms for another skin condition, such as a pimple or an ingrown hair.

You should be examined by your doctor if you notice possible herpes symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD. Look out for symptoms such as unusual sores, burning when urinating, or, for women, bleeding between periods.

Genital herpes sores sometimes cause severe pain and are more likely to do so 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.

If you do touch the sores or fluids, immediately wash your hands well to help prevent the spread of your infection.

Some people have only one herpes outbreak. Others have many outbreaks. Repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first one. Although the infection stays in the body for life, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years.

Symptoms of genital herpes tend to be worse in women. These typically include blisters that become painful sores. Some infected women also experience an unusual vaginal discharge.

Women most frequently experience blistering sores on these parts of the body:

What Should I Do If I Have Genital Herpes

If you have genital herpes:

  • See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible for testing and treatment.
  • Take all of the medicine. Even if symptoms go away, you need to finish all of the antiviral medicine.
  • Tell your sex partner so they can be tested and treated if necessary.
  • Avoid any sexual contact while you are being treated for genital herpes or while you have an outbreak.
  • Remember that genital herpes is a lifelong disease. Even though you may not have a genital herpes outbreak for long periods of time, you can still pass the virus to another person at any time. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to prevent passing the virus to another person.

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What Is The Treatment

Antiviral medication can be prescribed when herpes first develops, or if the blisters are painful or happen often. The antiviral treatments will not cure herpes, but can help to reduce discomfort and how long it takes for a sore to heal.The medication works best if it is started as soon as possible. It can also decrease the chance of spreading it to others by preventing the virus from multiplying.

To ease discomfort when you have symptoms, try the following:

  • Take acetaminophen or Ibuprofen to help with the pain
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing and cotton underwear
  • Soak in warm water baths
  • Keep the infected area dry, e.g., use a blow dryer on a cool setting after bathing instead of rubbing the area with a towel
  • Apply an ice-pack, wrapped in a clean cloth, to sores
  • Drink plenty of fluids to keep urine diluted . If urinating hurts, pour warm water over your genitals while urinating or pee when you are in a warm shower or bath
  • Do not use medicated or non-medicated ointments or creams, unless they are prescribed by your health care provider
  • Avoid breaking blisters and any sexual contact until symptoms have resolved

How Are Cold Sores Spread

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Skin-to-skin contact is how cold sores are spread in most cases. While normal skin is resistant to the virus, it can get into your body through broken skin and mucous membranes such as the moist inner skin that lines your mouth, eyes or your genitals.iv

Most people catch the herpes simplex virus in childhood but often dont get a cold sore for several years. After infection, the virus remains dormant inside a nerve sheath, causing no symptoms until its triggered. Once this happens, the virus multiplies and travels down the nerve sheath, causing a cold sore.vThe virus is spread by:vi

  • Kissing someone who has a cold sore or is about to get one.
  • Sharing lip balms, lipsticks or other items that have come into contact with the saliva of someone who has a cold sore.
  • Oral sex with someone who has an outbreak of genital herpes.
  • Touching your cold sore and then touching broken skin, eyes or genitals.

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