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How Long Does An Outbreak Of Herpes Last

Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex

It Might Be Good to Have Herpes | Trained Immunity

There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.

What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?

For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.

Herpes infection doesnt usually pose a serious health risk. The risk of a health complication due to herpes is higher in infants and if you have HIV/AIDS, cancer or an organ transplant.

How Long Does It Take For Hsv2 To Show Up

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Worried you may have been exposed to herpes? Herpes is an extremely common virus, with the HSV-1 and HSV-2 types of herpes affecting more than 50% and around 11% of the total worlds population respectively, according to data from the World Health Organization.

Most cases of herpes as asymptomatic, meaning people that are infected with the virus may not develop the cold sores or genital sores that most people associate with a herpes infection.

If you think you might have been exposed to herpes through kissing or sexual contact, its totally normal to feel concerned. Herpes spreads easily, and as its often impossible to tell if someone has an infection without testing, many people fret about possible infection after sexual activity.

If you have HSV-1 or HSV-2, youll normally experience one of two possible outcomes after you become infected:

  • A first herpes outbreak . This usually happens one to two weeks after youre exposed to the virus and can involve headache, fever and the development of herpes blisters on your lips and/or genitals.

  • Nothing. Many people infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 have no symptoms at all, meaning you might not notice anything after being infected.

Below, well explain more about the first herpes outbreak you might experience after exposure to the virus, including the typical timescale for an initial outbreak occurring. Well also cover the most effective testing methods that you can use to verify whether or not you have herpes.

Chickenpox Is Caused By The Same Virus

The same virus, varicella zoster virus, causes both chickenpox and shingles.

Chickenpox typically causes an itchy rash that spreads over the entire body, as opposed to just one side of the body or face like shingles. More than 99 percent of Americans born on or before 1980 have had chickenpox, per the CDC. If you dont know if you had chickenpox, check with your family doctor, who can review your records.

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How Long Does A Genital Herpes Outbreak Last

Since you clicked on an article with “herpes” in the title rather than “cold sore,” you’re probably looking for information on genital herpes. We’ll cover that information first!

The length of time a genital herpes outbreak lasts depends on many factors, but in general, the overall timeline is from one to four weeks.

Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes

How Long Does It Take for Herpes to Show Up?

You may be prescribed:

  • antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
  • cream for the pain

If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.

Also Check: Is Hiv And Herpes The Same Thing

How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex

Preventing HSV-1

You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.

If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:

  • Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
  • Touching the skin near their mouth.

Preventing HSV-2

If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:

  • Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
  • Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
  • Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
  • Use condoms during intercourse and dental dams during oral sex.

Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.

If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:

  • Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
  • Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
  • Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.

Understanding Herpes With H Hunter Handsfield Md

Herpes expert H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, explains the basics about genital herpes, including the difference between genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, testing options and the importance of knowing virus type, and the three-prong strategy for prevention. See more herpes videos at sexualhealthTV.com.

Have a question about herpes youd like Dr. Handsfield or our other experts to answer? Visit our Ask the Experts page to learn how.

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How Long Do Herpes Outbreaks Last

When you hear the word herpes, the image that comes to mind is probably one of a sore at the edge of your lip that crops up every time you have a cold or a fever. But herpes is a little more complicated that that. Believe it or not, most people who have herpes have absolutely no idea. Thats because, for the most part, the virus can be entirely asymptomatic. Usually the first infection when it comes to oral herpes happens sometime during childhood and not from sexual contact, and the symptoms are a lot more like a cold. In severe cases, the initial outbreak can involve a fever, swollen lymph nodes, swollen gums, and sores in your mouth, throat, or on your tongue. An initial herpes outbreak lasts around 14 days but can take up to six weeks for sores to fully heal .

While oral herpes is most commonly caused by herpes simplex virus 1 , genital herpes is more frequently cause by herpes simplex virus 2 .

Much like oral herpes, an initial genital herpes infection can last a lot longer than subsequent outbreaks and may be accompanied by fever and other whole-body symptoms and some symptoms may persist for weeks. Recurrent genital herpes outbreaks cause symptoms like itching, redness, and irritation in the genital area, but like oral herpes, genital herpes can also be asymptomatic . A genital herpes outbreak may begin with pain in the genitals and shooting pains or tingling in your legs, hips, or butt. These symptoms usually occur before you can see any blisters or lesions .

Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster

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Herpes simplex and the varicella-zoster virus are related, but they arent the same. VZV causes chickenpox and shingles.

Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.

References

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Can You Have Herpes And Not Know It

Yes, it is possible to have herpes and not know it.

Some people may have an asymptomatic infection, which means they do not experience any symptoms. Others have symptoms that are mild, go unnoticed, or mistaken for another skin issue. Because of this, they’re less likely to seek out a diagnosis to confirm herpes.

Which Shingles Vaccine Is Best

Eventually, your doctor will start mentioning the shingles vaccine which can help prevent shingles from developing, as well as reduce its severity if it does still develop. The shingles vaccine can also reduce your risk of postherpetic neuralgia, one of the most common complications of shingles.

Because shingles becomes increasingly more common as a person ages, the shingles vaccine is currently recommended for people over the age of 50. There are two vaccine options, Shingrix and Zostavax, with Shingrix being the newer of the two vaccines and the preferred choice as it is more effective.

When it comes to how the shingles vaccine works, Shingrix is a shot that requires two doses administered six months apart. There are temporary side of effects of this shingles vaccine that can be unpleasant, however. Shingles vaccine side effects typically dont last more than three days, but include:

  • Redness or swelling

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What Happens During An Outbreak

Genital herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. You catch it by having intimate contact with someone who has the virus.

In between episodes, most people don’t know they have been infected by it. The virus remains in your nervous system and can be reactivated from time to time to give you symptoms. Outbreaks can occur in the genital area if the first infection was in the genitals. They cause crops of small painful blisters in the genital area and back passage . Herpes can also cause recurrent cold sores if the primary infection was around the mouth.

No one knows why outbreaks occur, although sunlight, physical illness, excess alcohol, and stress are all thought to be trigger factors. They often do become less frequent over time.

Recurrent episodes of genital herpes generally don’t last as long as the first outbreak. They are sometimes preceded by itching or tingling in the genital area. Recurrent outbreaks usually last about 7-10 days, shorter than the primary infection which can last up to two weeks. They are also often milder than a primary infection but as R35506 found, the shallow ulcers left when the blisters break can still be quite painful.

How Is Shingles Diagnosed

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Your healthcare provider will do a complete physical exam and ask about your medical history, specifically about whether you have ever had chickenpox.

Your healthcare provider will likely know right away that it is shingles based on the unique rash. The rash usually appears one area on one side of the body or face. It appears as red spots, small fluid- or pus-filled vesicles, or scabs.

The healthcare provider may also take skin scrapings for testing.

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Outbreaks For Asymptomatic Hsv

The majority of herpes infections, of both HSV-1 and HSV-2, are asymptomatic. This means that you can be infected with the herpes virus and have viral DNA in your body without any visible symptoms.

People with asymptomatic herpes can still spread the virus to others while not having any cold sores or genital herpes lesions.

Sometimes, people with asymptomatic herpes might experience an initial outbreak of cold sores or genital herpes, only to have the virus disappear after the first outbreak. In this case, herpes is still present in the body, but simply remains inactive and doesnt produce further outbreaks.

It can be difficult to know whether or not you have asymptomatic HSV-1 or HSV-2, or simply have infrequent herpes outbreaks. However, if youre confident you have herpes but havent had an outbreak for several years, its likely that you have an asymptomatic infection.

Even if youre asymptomatic, its still important to take precautions against spreading herpes to other people. Herpes remains in the body even if you dont have any symptoms, and there is a risk that you could spread the virus through kissing, oral sex or other sexual activity.

If you have asymptomatic herpes, the best approach is to speak to your doctor about treatment options and the use of suppressive therapy to reduce your risk of infecting others.

Red Light Therapy Can Reduce Duration Of Outbreaks

Red light therapy is a type of treatment proven to help reduce the duration of herpes outbreaks. Clinical research has shown that treatment with red light can shorten the healing time of herpes outbreaks even more than traditional treatments.

The Luminance RED lip sore device and genital sore device are FDA-registered medical devices that use the same kind of high-powered light that achieved such results. To spend the least amount of time with your herpes sores, try one of the Luminance RED devices with its advanced red light therapy technology.

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What Is Herpes Simplex

Herpes simplex is a virus that causes skin infections. The infection lasts your lifetime, and it causes painful or itchy sores and blisters that come and go. Herpes simplex virus typically doesnt cause severe problems. But it can be dangerous in infants and people with weakened immune systems. There are two types of herpes simplex:

  • Herpes simplex 1 tends to affect your mouth or face. It causes cold sores. HSV-1 spreads through contact with saliva .
  • Herpes simplex 2 is a sexually transmitted disease . It causes sores on skin that comes in contact with the genitals of an infected person.

Sometimes a herpes infection can affect other parts of your body, such as your eyes or other parts of your skin.

Can Herpes Be Transmitted During Its Incubation Period

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The chances are low that a person can transmit HSV to someone else within the first few days following their initial contact with the virus. But because of HSV dormancy, among other reasons, not many people can pinpoint the moment they contracted the virus.

Transmission is common from contact with a partner who might not know they have HSV and isnt showing symptoms of infection.

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Testing For Genital Herpes

If you think you may have genital herpes you should make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.

If there are symptoms present such as blisters, sores and ulcers, your doctor or nurse may be able to make a diagnosis straight away.

If you have visible blisters, your doctor or nurse may take a swab for testing, to check if this is herpes and what type. This swab can also test for another STI which causes blisters called syphilis.

The genital herpes swab tests are very reliable, though if the ulcer is too dry then it may be less likely to find a positive result.

What To Look Out For

“Genital herpes outbreaks can differ in severity. While some people encounter multiple painful blisters, some only have one single sore.” – Dr Zenon Andreou

“Genital herpes outbreaks can differ in severity. While some people encounter multiple painful blisters, some only have one single sore.”

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Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner

Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.

If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.

Herpes Might Not Have Any Symptoms

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You or your partner may not have any herpes symptoms that you can see or feel, or the signs of herpes may be so mild you dont even notice them. Sometimes people confuse herpes symptoms with other things, like pimples, ingrown hairs, and the flu.

Herpes symptoms come and go, but that doesnt mean the infection goes away or that you cant spread it to other people. Once you have herpes, it stays in your body for life.

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Subsequent Genital Herpes Outbreaks

Subsequent HSV-2 outbreaks typically last about a week from onset of symptoms to complete healing of sores. People sometimes experience symptoms that warn of an impending outbreak. These include an itching, burning or tingling sensation in the genital area where the sores form.

Over time, many people say they experience fewer and less severe genital herpes outbreaks than they did after first contracting the virus, though they are still infected.

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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What Shingles Symptoms Come Next

After about 1 to 5 days, a shingles rash will appear on one side of the body, often in a single characteristic band around one side of the torso or face.

The painful rash will then form itchy or burning blister-like sores filled with a clear fluid. The blisters will scab over in 7 to 10 days. Theyll gradually grow smaller before disappearing.

Shingles rash symptoms commonly last between 2 to 4 weeks.

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