Dormancy In Between Outbreaks
If someone has already experienced an initial herpes outbreak, then they might wonder how often you should expect to get them in the future. There is no exact science for this either, but the average is two to four HSV-2 outbreaks a year.
However, there are always exceptions. According to the Mayo Clinic, a herpes patient can live outbreak-free 40 years after their first one before having another!
- Women can have outbreak recurrences on their cervix without knowing it. .
- Recurring outbreaks have fewer systemic symptoms than the first outbreak.
- Herpes outbreaks are more frequent within the first 4-5 years of having the virus in most people. They taper off, and sometimes stop occurring altogether. This isnt always the case for all patients, though.
- Some women experience outbreaks in conjunction with their menstrual cycles, which for them would be a trigger.
Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Many people who have genital herpes may not be aware they have the infection, because they may not have any symptoms.
The first episode of herpes can cause considerable pain and distress. Symptoms of the first episode may include:
- flu-like symptoms such as feeling unwell, headaches and pains in the back and legs, with or without enlarged glands in the groin
- small blisters around the genitals these break open to form shallow, painful ulcers, which scab over and heal after one to two weeks
- small cracks in the skin with or without an itch or tingling
- redness or a distinct rash
- some people also have considerable pain and swelling in the genital area, and hence may have additional pain and difficulty passing urine.
What Are The Different Types Of Herpes
There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV I and HSV II. HSV I commonly causes oral herpes, or cold sores. This virus can show up as an upper respiratory tract infection during early childhood. HSV II is the cause of most cases of genital herpes. However, it is possible for HSV I to cause genital herpes and HSV II to cause oral herpes.
Clinicians cannot tell the difference between the two types by physical examination alone, but there are differences between the two viruses. For example, genital herpes caused by HSV II is much more likely to recur. This diagnosis can be helpful in establishing a health care plan.
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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 Common Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes infection is common in the United States. CDC estimated that there were 572,000 new genital herpes infections in the United States in a single year.1 Nationwide, 11.9 % of persons aged 14 to 49 years have HSV-2 infection .2 However, the prevalence of genital herpes infection is higher than that because an increasing number of genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-1. 3 Oral HSV-1 infection is typically acquired in childhood because the prevalence of oral HSV-1 infection has declined in recent decades, people may have become more susceptible to contracting a genital herpes infection from HSV-1. 4
HSV-2 infection is more common among women than among men the percentages of those infected during 2015-2016 were 15.9% versus 8.2% respectively, among 14 to 49 year olds. 2 This is possibly because genital infection is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men during penile-vaginal sex. 5 HSV-2 infection is more common among non-Hispanic blacks than among non-Hispanic whites . 2 A previous analysis found that these disparities, exist even among persons with similar numbers of lifetime sexual partners. Most infected persons may be unaware of their infection in the United States, an estimated 87.4% of 14 to 49 year olds infected with HSV-2 have never received a clinical diagnosis. 6
The age-adjusted percentage of persons in the United States infected with HSV-2 decreased from 18.0% in 19992000 to 12.1% in 2015-2016. 2
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What Effects Does Herpes Have During Pregnancy
Itâs really important to speak to a healthcare worker if you have herpes during pregnancy, especially if it’s your first outbreak. If you have herpes there’s a risk that your baby can develop âneonatal herpesâ. This can be very dangerous or even fatal for your baby. Your healthcare provider will be able to prescribe antiviral treatment to keep your baby safe and help you have a healthy pregnancy.
Speak to a healthcare worker for more information or if you have any concerns.
Valacyclovir For First Herpes Outbreaks
For first-time herpes outbreaks, valacyclovir is most effective when its used within 48 hours of symptoms appearing.
The standard dosage of valacyclovir for first-time herpes outbreaks is 1,000 mg two times per day over a period of 10 days. Valacyclovir usually starts treating herpes symptoms as soon as its in your system, but can take several days to produce a noticeable improvement.
It can take up to 10 days for herpes blisters to heal even with valacyclovir treatment. This makes it important to start treatment as soon as you notice herpes symptoms.
In some cases, your doctor might prescribe valacyclovir for a longer period than 10 days or at a different dosage. In this case, follow your doctors instructions and make sure you complete the full course of the medication, even if the herpes blisters heal before the end of the period.
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How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
HSV nucleic acid amplification tests are the most sensitive and highly specific tests available for diagnosing herpes. However, in some settings viral culture is the only test available. The sensitivity of viral culture can be low, especially among people who have recurrent or healing lesions. Because viral shedding is intermittent, it is possible for someone to have a genital herpes infection even though it was not detected by NAAT or culture. 11
Type-specific virologic tests can be used for diagnosing genital herpes when a person has recurrent symptoms or lesion without a confirmatory NAAT, culture result, or has a partner with genital herpes. Both virologic tests and type-specific serologic tests should be available in clinical settings serving patients with, or at risk for, sexually transmitted infections. 11
Given performance limitations with commercially available type-specific serologic tests , a confirmatory test with a second method should be performed before test interpretation. If confirmatory tests are unavailable, patients should be counseled about the limitations of available testing before serologic testing. Healthcare providers should also be aware that false-positive results occur. In instances of suspected recent acquisition, serologic testing within 12 weeks after acquisition may be associated with false negative test results. 11
Providers are strongly encouraged to look at CDCs STI Treatment Guidelines for further diagnostic considerations.
How Can I Avoid Hpv And The Health Problems It Can Cause
You can do several things to lower your chances of getting HPV.
Get vaccinated. The HPV vaccine is safe and effective. It can protect against diseases caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups. CDC recommends HPV vaccination at age 11 or 12 years and for everyone through age 26 years, if not vaccinated already. For more information on the recommendations, please see:
Get screened for cervical cancer. Routine screening for women aged 21 to 65 years old can prevent cervical cancer.
If you are sexually active
- Use latex condoms the right way every time you have sex. This can lower your chances of getting HPV. But HPV can infect areas not covered by a condom so condoms may not fully protect against getting HPV
- Be in a mutually monogamous relationship or have sex only with someone who only has sex with you.
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Who Might Get Herpes Simplex
People of any age can contract herpes simplex. You are more likely to get the virus if you:
- Were assigned female at birth.
- Have had multiple sex partners.
- Started having sex at a young age.
- Have a history of any sexually transmitted infection .
- Have a weakened immune system.
- Dont use condoms for intercourse and dental dams for oral sex.
Who gets HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes?
Anyone can get HSV-1. Most people contract HSV-1 during childhood. It spreads when an adult who has the virus has close contact with a child, such as when a family member kisses a child.
Who gets HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes?
Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms or dental dams.
People assigned female at birth are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black people who were AFAB are especially vulnerable, with an estimated 1 in 2 people AFAB between the ages of 14 and 49 infected with HSV-2.
What Triggers A Herpes Outbreak
As we mentioned, following you first herpes infection, the virus lies dormant in your nerves. Your immune system usually keeps it at bay.
But your immune system can only deal with so much at once. That means if you have dormant herpes and your immune system needs to fend off another virus or bacteria, it may get distracted, allowing herpes to crop up. Thats why cold sores are called cold sores or fever blistersthey typically appear when you catch another bug .
Different types of stress can also trigger outbreaks. Psychological stress, especially the stress caused by extreme emotional upset, can lead to an outbreak .
Things that cause physical stress can also contribute. Sunlight is a common trigger of oral herpes outbreaks, while friction from tight clothing or sex, and even hormone changes associated with menstruation, are common triggers of genital herpes outbreaks .
Speak to a healthcare provider about your options and which treatments might be effective for preventing or shortening your outbreaks.
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How Valtrex Works On Cold Sores
It slows the growth of the Herpes Virus. Valtrex is an antiviral medication that can be taken before the blisters appear. If caught early enough, Valtrex will halt cold sores completely.
The main active ingredient is valacyclovir hydrochloride. This ingredient is also used with HIV patients to help prevent outbreaks of Herpes infections. For an already weakened immune system, Valtrex can slow down reoccurring viral outbreaks.
Valtrex does not cure herpes and may not work if you didnt catch it early enough. The objective is to stop the virus and return it to a dormant state. Take the medication as soon as you feel any burning, itching, and tingling sensations.
How To Get Rid Of Herpes Overnight
Unfortunately, it is impossible to get rid of the symptoms of a herpes outbreak overnight. Whilst there are genital herpes treatments designed to reduce the duration and severity of recurrences, no products exist that can eliminate the outbreak entirely within one day .
Medical intervention â along with homeopathic remedies â can reduce the discomfort, pain and length of a flare-up.
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What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- 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 look out for signs of complications?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Millions of people are living with the herpes virus that causes genital herpes. Its a common STI. You shouldnt be embarrassed or put off seeking medical care if you develop symptoms. Treatments can ease symptoms, reduce outbreaks and protect sexual partners from infection. Having the virus shouldnt affect your relationships or sexual health. However, you do need to tell your sexual partners that you have the virus. Your healthcare provider can discuss ways to prevent spreading this STI.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 11/23/2020.
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Coping With Your Feelings
Finding out that you have genital herpes may cause you to have negative thoughts or feelings about yourself or about sex, such as:
- Feeling ashamed or embarrassed.
- Being afraid of the consequences of the infection.
- Being angry at the person who infected you.
- Feeling frustrated with treatment or recurrent outbreaks.
- Feeling scared to have sex.
A counselor or support groups for people with herpes may be helpful.
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Herpes Outbreak Treatment Options
Even without treatment, most herpes outbreaks go away on their own. There are treatments available, however, which have been proven to shorten and even prevent future outbreaks. These antiviral medications work by preventing the virus from making copies of itself and spreading through your cells to cause an outbreak. If you suffer from oral herpes, a healthcare provider may recommend a topical cream or ointment that you should apply at the first sign of an outbreak. If you experience recurrent genital herpes outbreaks, you may be offered oral herpes treatments which are pills you take by mouth. Examples of antiviral drugs include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir . These are all standard options proven to help decrease the severity and length of outbreaks from herpes .
Prescription antiviral treatments are usually very effective at prevent future outbreaks, reducing the chance of experiencing an outbreak by 7080%. Many people on antiviral therapy report experiencing no herpes symptoms at all . Using medication within the first 24 hours of symptoms can shorten outbreaks by several hours or days, ultimately reducing any discomfort in the long run .
How To Heal Herpes Sores Faster
An outbreak of genital herpes can be upsetting and painful – so it comes as no surprise that if you are experiencing an outbreak, you want to know how to heal herpes sores faster than traditional methods of management.
The herpes simplex virus is a sexually transmitted disease categorized into two main variations, HSV-1 and HSV-2. While HSV-1 is primarily associated with cold sores that surface during times of stress or lack of sleep, genital sores attributed to HSV-2 frequently cause discomfort and pain.
This pain, coupled with the embarrassment and anxiety of a flare-up, often leaves infected individuals seeking medical aid to reduce their symptoms, and heal sores faster.
This article will explore the various methods utilised to successfully lessen the intensity of a genital herpes outbreak.
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What Are The Complications Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes may cause painful genital ulcers that can be severe and persistent in persons with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV-infected persons. 5 Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also cause rare but serious complications such as aseptic meningitis . 5 Development of extragenital lesions may occur during the course of infection. 5
There are also potential complications for a pregnant woman and her newborn child. See How does herpes infection affect a pregnant woman and her baby? below for information about this.
Is Genital Herpes Infection Related To Hiv
Herpes and HIV are caused by different viruses. But patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more vulnerable to HIV infection. People newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
Patients who are infected with both herpes and HIV also may have a higher concentration of HIV viruses in their body because of the interaction between the herpes virus and the HIV virus. When HIV damages a persons immune system, the person may be more likely to shed herpes simplex virus asymptomatically.
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Drug Treatment For Genital Herpes
If you are infected with genital herpes, your doctor may prescribe oral antiviral drugs to help ease your symptoms during both a first episode and recurrent episodes. Your doctor may also suggest taking antiviral drugs daily as a suppressive therapy to reduce symptoms and protect partners.
Remember, though, that antiviral drugs do not wipe out the virus completely. It continues to live in your body, so if you stop taking the drugs that suppress it, you may have more frequent or more intense symptom outbreaks, and the risk of your transmitting the virus to others rises.
Three antiviral drugs, all taken by mouth, are used to treat genital herpes:
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What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex
Many people with the infection never experience any herpes symptoms. If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a repeat 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.
People who do have herpes symptoms may experience:
- Cold sores around their lips, mouth or tongue. They may look crusty or like fluid-filled blisters.
- Tingling, itching or burning.
- Pain while urinating.
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