How To Check If You Have Herpes
Many people mistake herpes symptoms for a skin rash or experience such a mild outbreak that they dont become aware theyre infected until subsequent outbreaks occur.
For more information, see our guide to Jock Itch vs. Herpes: Differences & Treatments.
Its also possible that you might experience no outbreaks at all after being infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Luckily, there are several ways to check whether or not you have herpes.The best and most obvious way is to talk to your doctor about herpes testing. There are several herpes testing methods in use today, ranging from swab tests that check for viral activity to blood tests that check for the presence of IgG and/or IgM antibodies.
Each testing method has strengths and weaknesses, meaning your doctor will recommend the best option for your symptoms and potential infection type.
Most of the time, youll need to wait 12 to 16 weeks from the last possible exposure date before taking a herpes test. This gives your immune system time to produce a large enough amount of antibodies for an accurate test result.
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.
Where Can I Get Tested For Herpes
To get a private herpes test, you can use a service that doesnt accept insurance so that no one else is notified that you were tested. This is up to you, since you can also have your doctor test you with a blood test or a swab. Be warned, though, that for swabs to be accurate they need to be done within 24-48 hours at most of a blister forming.
You can use this website for a 100% confidential STD test that you order online and then have done in a lab of your choice near you. The site says it will only take a few minutes to do so you can get peace of mind fast and privately.
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What Are The Herpes Outbreak Stages
- Lauren Stuttaford
Herpes, otherwise known as the herpes simplex virus, is categorized into two types: herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 .
The first is mainly transmitted through oral-to-oral contact causing oral herpes but can also cause genital herpes. While HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted infection that causes genital herpes. Both types of the infection are lifelong.
A person infected with herpes, whether oral or genital, might show no symptoms or could progress through the different herpes outbreak stages from blister development to herps healing. However, most herpes infections are asymptomatic.
According to the World Health Organization , an estimated 3.7 billion people under 50 years old have HSV-1 infection globally, and an estimated 491 million people between the ages of 15-49 have HSV-2 infection worldwide.
Astonishingly, the virus causing genital herpes or HSV-2 increases the risk of contracting and transmitting HIV, putting millions at greater risk of contracting an HIV infection.
Lets take a closer look at the herpes outbreak stages.
How Do People Get Genital Herpes
Infections are transmitted through contact with HSV in herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. 5 HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be shed from normal-appearing oral or genital mucosa or skin. 7,8 Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However, receiving oral sex from a person with an oral HSV-1 infection can result in getting a genital HSV-1 infection. 4 Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected. 7 In persons with asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, genital HSV shedding occurs on 10.2% of days, compared to 20.1% of days among those with symptomatic infections. 8
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Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body
The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.
Quickest Way To Stop The Herpes Outbreak
Luckily, your doctor can prescribe you an antiviral like acyclovir or valocyclovir . These can be a godsend and swiftly stop the outbreak within a day or two of use. Your doctor can even discuss the possibility of taking the antiviral every day to prevent future recurrences. Many people choose not to take drugs that can be harsh on the liver on a regular basis, and just use them as needed. If youre in pain, you want to do whats available, and these types of drugs are the simply quickest way to stop the outbreak, so ask your doctor about them.
For future reference, drugs like Valtrex work best when you catch the outbreak early. Then theres a better chance youll stop the flare-up. Its not hard to do once you are aware of the prodromal symptoms, such as tingling and tenderness.
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Complications Associated With Cold Sores
The initial contraction of herpes simplex can cause more severe symptoms and complications, as your body hasnt built up a defense to the virus yet. Complications are rare, but can occur, especially in young children. Call your doctor immediately if youre experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- high or persistent fever
- red, irritated eyes with or without discharge
Complications are more likely to occur in people who have eczema or a condition that weakens their immune system, such as cancer or AIDS. If you do have any of these conditions, contact your doctor if you think youve contracted the herpes simplex virus.
Theres no cure for cold sores, but some people with the herpes simplex virus rarely have outbreaks. When cold sores do develop, there are several ways to treat them.
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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What Is Angular Stomatitis
Angular stomatitis refers to inflammation, cracking, or irritation at the corners of the mouth. In contrast, herpes infections usually appear on the upper or lower lip margins, not in the corners.
Do Natural Remedies Help
There are several options that can be tried to ease the pain. A73612 and Donnor52059 suggest dabbing cornstarch directly on the sores. I can’t find any scientific studies that have researched this, but I can’t see that it would do any harm.
A73612 also recommends squirting water from a bottle over the sores when you pee. This is a time-honoured method that will help to ease the pain.
Yolandayw mentioned taking a simple painkiller such as paracetamol during an outbreak. Feelbroken advised putting Vaseline on the sores. Lidocaine 5%, a local anaesthetic gel that numbs the area, is another option. Some people find it helpful to put on five minutes before passing urine. You need to get it on prescription and it doesn’t suit everyone. Some people develop sensitivity to it which makes the symptoms worse.
Yolandayw also advised using ice as a home remedy. Simply wrap the ice in a tea towel and apply for 5-10 minutes. Never put ice directly on the skin as this can cause ‘ice burn’. Drinking plenty of water can also be helpful as it reduces the concentration of urine, making it less painful when you have to pee.
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How Long Does Your First Outbreak Of Herpes Last
I just got told i have herpes yesterday i have had symptoms since monday eve and even ended up in hospital been told i have a really bad urine infection. I feel so disgusting that i have this and just dont know what to think at the moment, i feel so stupid that i caught this. The worst thing is i am in so much pain and have been for about 5 days i have anti bs from the doctor i only got yesterday and i am no better at the mo it stings so much everything is so uncomfy i have tried salt baths..a gel that the doc gave that numbs down there when you wee and nothing is helping please tell me this doesnt last long.
9 likes, 229 replies
Stages Of Herpes Outbreaks
Like any other infection, every case is different. The duration of a herpes outbreak will depend on factors such as:
- Your individual immune system
- How many outbreaks youâve had in the past
- Treatment history
Keep in mind that no matter your history or treatment, thereâs help.
The stages of a herpes outbreak can last between two and 14 days and can be broken down into stages:
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Is It Possible To Prevent Cold Sores
The best way to prevent a herpes simplex infection is to avoid physical contact with someone else’s cold sores. Items that touch the lips but cannot be washed or sanitized, such as lipstick or lip balm, should not be shared. During an outbreak, frequent hand washing and sanitizing with 60% ethanol-based hand sanitizer will help reduce the spread of the virus to other parts of the body or to other people. Wash hands immediately after applying topical treatments to a cold sore. L-lysine and other supplements have not been shown to consistently reduce outbreaks.
To prevent future outbreaks:
Preventing The Spread Of Herpes
The following tips may help prevent the condition from reactivating or spreading:
- Wash any items that may have had contact with the contagious sores, like towels, in boiling water after use.
- Dont share food utensils or other personal items with people who have oral herpes.
- Dont share cold sore creams with anyone.
- Dont kiss or participate in oral sex with someone who has a cold sore.
- To keep the virus from spreading to other parts of the body, dont touch the blisters or sores. If you do, wash your hands with soap and water immediately.
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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.
How Does Herpes Simplex Spread
Herpes spreads through close contact with a person who has the infection. The virus can be found in skin and saliva. If you have herpes simplex, you are most likely to pass the virus to another person when you have sores. But you can infect someone else even if you have no symptoms. Healthcare providers call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
People may get HSV-1 through
- Touching a persons skin near the mouth.
- Sharing food utensils, lip balm or razors.
- If you receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, it may spread a herpes infection to your genitals.
People may get HSV-2 through
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
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How To Prevent Herpes
But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection like condoms and dental dams when you have sex helps to lower your risk of getting an STD.
Herpes can live on areas of your body that arent protected by condoms , so condoms wont always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.
Dont have sex with anyone during a herpes outbreak, because thats when it spreads most easily. But herpes can also spread when there are no sores or symptoms, so its important to use condoms and dental dams, even if everything looks and feels A-OK.
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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:
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What You Need To Know
- Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes.
- Oral herpes can be spread through intimate contact with someone who is infected.
- Oral herpes can be difficult to diagnose. Often confused with many other infections, it can only be confirmed with a virus culture called PCR, blood test or biopsy. PCR is the preferred test for diagnosing herpes infections.
- The best treatment for oral herpes is antiviral oral medication. Symptomatic treatment may include antiviral ointment, over-the-counter topical anesthetics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents.
Whether you call it a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.
Once infected, a person will have herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. When inactive, the virus lies dormant in a group of nerve cells. While some people never develop any symptoms from the virus, others will have periodic outbreaks of infections.
What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Pregnant Women
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, there may be a risk of your baby being infected with the virus during delivery. This condition is called neonatal herpes and can be serious or fatal.
Neonatal herpes can result in damage to the central nervous system and can cause mental retardation. Only about 0.1% of babies born in the United States are infected with neonatal herpes even though about 25% to 30% of pregnant women have genital herpes.
Generally, if you are infected with herpes, your doctor will deliver your baby by cesarean section to avoid any risk to your newborn infant.
Women who have herpes before becoming pregnant are at very low risk of transmitting the herpes virus to their babies. If a woman is infected with the herpes virus after becoming pregnant, her baby faces a higher risk of contracting neonatal herpes. Women who are newly infected havent had time to develop the antibodies against the virus and cannot pass them on to the baby for protection.
Talk with your OB/GYN and let them know if you have genital herpes. At the time of your delivery, ask your doctor to examine you early in labor to make sure you dont have any sores or signs of infection like pain, tingling, or itching.
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How Do Cold Sores Spread
The virus is spread from person to person by kissing, by close contact with herpes lesions, or from saliva even when sores are not present. Infected saliva is a common means of virus transmission.
The contagious period is highest when people have active blisters or moist sores. Once the blisters have dried and crusted over , the risk of contagion is significantly lessened.
HSV can also be spread through personal items that are contaminated with the virus, such as lipstick, utensils, and razors. Despite popular myth, catching herpes from surfaces, towels, or washcloths is very rare, since the virus does not usually survive long on dry surfaces.