Tuesday, February 20, 2024

How Is Genital Herpes Treated

Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles

Herpes Simplex 1 & 2: Symptoms, Transmission and Treatment

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.

Prescriptions Used To Suppress Outbreaks

Suppressive therapy medications are available to prevent future herpes outbreaks and reduce the likelihood of giving herpes to your partners. For example, suppressive medication like aciclovir can be taken twice a day for six to 12 months to reduce herpes outbreaks.

The choice to use suppressive therapy prescriptions must be discussed with your doctor. Every medication causes its own side effects and symptoms to consider.

How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes

Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other skin conditions like a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people do not know they have a herpes infection.

Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. This is known as having an outbreak. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Flu-like symptoms also may occur during the first outbreak.

People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they have HSV-2. However, repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although genital herpes is a lifelong infection, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.

Ask a healthcare provider to examine you if:

  • You notice any symptoms or
  • Your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.

STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods .

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Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes

Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.

How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy

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  • If you get genital herpes during pregnancy, you can spread genital herpes to your baby during delivery.
  • If you had genital herpes before pregnancy, your baby is still at risk of getting herpes, but the risk is lower.

Most women with genital herpes have healthy babies. But babies who get herpes from their mother have neonatal herpes. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition that can cause problems in a newborn baby such as brain damage, eye problems, or even death.

Also Check: How To Stop Herpes Outbreak When You Feel It Coming

What To Do After Testing Positive For Genital Herpes

If a person tests positive for genital herpes, its recommended that they speak with a doctor. Although theres no cure for herpes, it can be treated through antiviral medication. Antiviral medication can help reduce the severity of recurring outbreaks .

Frequent, severe recurring outbreaks might be a sign of a compromised immune system. If outbreaks are occurring often, a doctor might investigate whether theres an underlying issue affecting the immune system.

Having sex is OK if theres a genital herpes diagnosis, but its best to avoid sex if theres a herpes outbreak. To reduce the chances of transmitting HSV to a partner, use barrier methods such as condoms and dental dams during all sexual activity.

Genital herpes does not always require treatment. However, genital warts can be painful. Antiviral treatments can reduce the symptoms and severity of outbreaks.

In rare cases, herpes can cause complications. Generally, though, it does not get worse over time.

Can Genital Herpes Come Back

Yes. Genital herpes symptoms can come and go, but the virus stays inside your body even after all signs of the infection have gone away. The virus becomes “active” from time to time, leading to an outbreak. Some people have outbreaks only once or twice. Other people may have four or five outbreaks within a year. Over time, the outbreaks usually happen less often and are less severe.

Experts do not know what causes the virus to become active. Some women say the virus comes back when they are sick, under stress, out in the sun, or during their period.

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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:

Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes

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Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.

Recurrences may be triggered by:

  • no apparent reason noted.

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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

Frequently Asked Questionsexpand All

People with HSV-2 infection have an increased risk of getting human immunodeficiency virus if they have sex with an HIV-infected partner. Taking suppressive therapy does not decrease this risk.

  • How can the herpes virus affect pregnancy?

    If a woman is pregnant and infected with HSV, it can be passed to the fetus during birth while passing through the womans infected birth canal. This is most likely to occur if a woman first becomes infected with HSV during pregnancy and in a woman who has her first outbreak late in pregnancy. But it also can occur during a recurrent outbreak in a woman who was infected before pregnancy, although the risk is much lower.

    If you have sores or warning signs of an outbreak at the time of delivery, you may need to have a cesarean delivery to reduce chance of infection. The decision depends on many factors, including where the sores are on your body and whether the fetus would come into contact with them during delivery.

  • Can I still breastfeed my baby if I have the herpes virus?

    Yes, in most cases. The herpes virus cannot be passed to a baby through breast milk. However, the baby could get infected by touching a sore on your body. Make sure any sores that the baby could come into contact with are covered when you hold your baby or while breastfeeding. Wash your hands with soap and water before and after feeding your baby. If you have sores on your breast, you should not breastfeed your baby from that breast.

  • Article continues below

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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.

    Can Genital Herpes Be Prevented

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    Practising safe sex is the best way to help prevent genital herpes infection.

    It is safest to:

    • always use condoms and dental dams, even when there are no sores or blisters present
    • avoid sex when there are sores or blisters present you are most infectious at this time
    • avoid sex with someone who has any blisters, sores or other symptoms of genital herpes
    • avoid oral sex when there is any sign of a cold sore

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    Can Genital Warts Go Away On Their Own

    In this article, we want to give you the need-to-know facts to decide if you want to treat your genital warts or wait to see if the body will clear the breakout.

    If youâve recently found you have a genital wart outbreak you might be wondering if they will just go away on their own. Deciding whether or not to treat these warts is completely up to you.

    In this article, we want to give you the need-to-know facts to decide if you want to treat your genital warts or wait to see if the body will clear the breakout.

    I Had Lesions When I Was Evaluated But My Culture Was Negative Does This Mean That I Dont Have Herpes

    Not necessarily. Although lesions can be caused by something other than herpes, false negative herpes tests can occur if the samples are not taken appropriately, if there is a long transport time between the clinic and the laboratory, or if cultures were taken late in the course of the lesions. Lesions that occur early in the course of a herpes outbreak are much more likely to have positive cultures than cultures taken after the lesions crust over.

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    When Is It Time To See A Doctor For Genital Herpes

    Its important to see a doctor if you suspect you have genital herpes. Your doctor may collect a sample and test it for the herpes simplex virus and other STIs. Once your herpes diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor can help you select a medication or treatment best suited to minimize the impacts of genital herpes on your health and quality of life.

    You may also want to see a doctor if your recurring genital herpes outbreaks are causing you intense pain and discomfort. Though herpes isnt a dangerous condition that causes serious health problems, ongoing outbreaks may become a nuisance or cause embarrassment and pain.

    Symptoms Of Oral Herpes

    Herpes Simplex, Causes, Signs and Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment.

    Oral herpes is most often caused by HSV-1, but can also be caused by HSV-2. It usually affects the lips and, in some primary attacks, the mucous membranes in the mouth. A herpes infection may occur on the cheeks or in the nose, but facial herpes is very uncommon.

    Primary Oral Herpes Infection

    If the primary oral infection causes symptoms, they can be very painful, particularly in children. Symptoms include:

    • Tingling, burning, or itching around the mouth are the first signs.
    • Red, fluid-filled blisters that may form on the lips, gums, mouth, and throat.
    • Blisters that break open and leak. As they heal, they turn yellow and crusty, eventually turning into pink skin. The sores last 10 to 14 days and can be very uncomfortable.
    • Blisters that may be preceded or accompanied by sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and painful swallowing.

    Recurrent Oral Herpes Infection

    A recurrent oral herpes infection is much milder than the primary outbreak. It usually manifests as a single sore, commonly called a cold sore or fever blister . The sore usually shows up on the outer edge of the lips and rarely affects the gums or throat.

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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.

    Herpes Causes And Risk Factors

    Causes of herpes include acquiring the virus through sexual contact, coupled with immune system suppression and sometimes nutritional deficiencies.

    HSV-1 is primarily transmitted by oral-oral contact. On the other hand, HSV-2 is considered a sexually transmitted disease and usually passed during oral or vaginal sex.

    A scary finding is that more cases of genital herpes than ever before are now being caused by HSV-1 , and about 85 percent of people with genital herpes dont even know it. Studies show that about 50 percent of the new genital herpes infections in young adults are due to HSV-1 and about 40 percent in older adults. The fact that most people dont ever find out theyre infected is one of the reasons that transmission rates are steadily climbing.

    Risk factors for acquiring herpes include:

    • Kissing someone who has symptoms of an active herpes virus
    • Engaging in any form of unprotected sex
    • Having sex with multiple partners
    • Spreading the virus through contact with cold sores on the eyes, secretions on the fingers, or ulcers/sores on buttocks and upper thighs
    • Having certain other illnesses that lower immune function, such as HIV/AIDS, an autoimmune disorder or hepatitis
    • Eating a poor diet that causes nutrient deficiencies and lowered immunity
    • Smoking cigarettes, drinking high amounts of alcohol or abusing drugs

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    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.

    Is There Anything I Can Do To Relieve The Symptoms Myself

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    In some women, genital herpes blisters cause pain when urinating . Many of them find it soothing to pee while sitting in warm, shallow water . You can do this using special tubs that fit into toilet bowls. They are available at a reasonable price, for instance from pharmacies or on the internet. It’s best not to use soaps or bath additives because they can irritate the affected area even more. Other things you can do to avoid irritating it further include wearing loose-fitting clothes and underwear made out of fabrics that have a smooth surface.

    Painkillers such as ibuprofen are an option if the blisters become very painful.

    Topical antiviral treatments such as creams or ointments don’t provide any relief, but they can increase the risk of viral resistance. Experts advise against using topical treatments for genital herpes.

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    Myth: You Always Get A Herpes Outbreak Soon After Becoming Infected

    Herpes is a sneaky infection. It can exist in the body for months or even years without showing symptoms, but itâs still contagious nonetheless.

    If you do develop an outbreak, it will most likely happen two to twelve days after initial exposure to the virus. After the blisters break, they can take up to four weeks to heal.

    Fortunately, subsequent outbreaks tend to be less intense. Recurring outbreaks are common but donât last nearly as long. These sores tend to heal within three to seven days, and the number of outbreak periods may even decrease over time.

    What Are The Causes Of Genital Herpes

    Genital herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the HSV virus, usually during genital or oral sex. It can also be spread through kissing, foreplay or non-penetrative sex.

    • HSV1 commonly causes cold sores on the lips or face.
    • HSV2 causes most genital herpes.

    The HSV virus is most easily spread when there are blisters or sores, but it can still be passed even if a person has no current blisters or sores or other symptoms.

    You cannot get genital herpes from things like hugging, swimming pools or toilet seats.

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