Reactivation And Recurrent Outbreaks
- Extreme temperatures
- Menstrual periods
The virus then travels to the skin and can cause another, often milder, outbreak. However, reactivation may not cause any symptoms.
Before an outbreak, some people experience prodrome. This is characterized by tingling, itching, or pain in the affected areas before the lesions appear.
Can Herpes Simplex Eye Infection Come Back
Some people develop repeated episodes of active infection. As mentioned above, these occur if the virus reactivates from time to time â similar to cold sores. A recurrent infection may occur any time between a few weeks and many years after the first active infection.
At least half of people who have one episode of active infection will have a recurrence within 10 years of the first. Recurrences occur more often in some people than others.
If recurrences are frequent or severe, your eye specialist may advise that you take antiviral tablets each day to prevent episodes of active infection. Studies have shown that, on average, the number of recurrences is roughly halved in people who take regular antiviral tablets.
Some people say that episodes of active herpes infection may be triggered by strong sunlight. So, wearing sunglasses may also help to prevent recurrences. It is also possible that active infection may be triggered if you are run down or unwell for another reason. However, the evidence for this is limited. Some women find that they get recurrences around the time of their period but again there is limited evidence to support this.
If a recurrence does occur, each episode is treated as described above.
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
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Onset Of First Outbreak
The first outbreak of oral herpes usually develops within about one to three weeks after infection. This initial outbreak may last for up to three weeks.
With genital herpes, the first outbreak usually occurs within about two to 20 days. Similar to oral herpes, the initial outbreak may last as long as three weeks.
What Is Being Tested
Herpes is a common viral infection caused by the herpes simplex virus . The virus exists as two main types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV testing identifies the presence of the virus in a sample from a blister, sore or fluid to diagnose an active herpes infection or testing detects antibodies in the blood to determine previous exposure to herpes.
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are contagious and periodically cause small fever blisters that break to form open lesions.
However, both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can affect either the oral or genital areas.
The herpes simplex virus can be passed from person-to-person through skin contact while the sores are open and healing and sometimes when there are no visible sores. HSV-2 is the type most often spread during sex, but HSV-1 may also infect the genital area during oral sex.
Most people who have HSV-2 are unaware they are infected because signs and symptoms may be mild and go unnoticed.
Once you are infected and the initial infection resolves, the virus remains in your body in a latent form for the rest of your life. During periods of stress or illness, the virus may reactivate and you may have periodic outbreaks. People with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or those who have had an organ transplant, may have more frequent and serious outbreaks of HSV.
Herpes may be tested a few different ways:
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How Do I Talk To My Sex Partners
Telling them about your condition can be hard. Take some time to learn what you can and understand your own feelings first. You may be more at ease to talk openly.
Some people you tell might not think its such a big deal. Others will have strong feelings about it.
You cant control how anyone else reacts. All you can do is share what you know, answer questions, and give them time to think about it.
How Do You Know If You Have Genital Herpes
The only way to know if you have genital herpes is by amedical exam. Your health care provider can examineyou and test for it. Lab samples are taken from a sore,blister, or blood. Your health care provider may ask totest you for other infections at the same time.
Tell current and most recent sex partners of your herpes infection.
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Ask About Sexual History
Ask all partners whether theyâve been tested recently for STIs before sexual contact. Limiting the number of sexual partners you are exposed to will also decrease your risk of contracting genital herpes and other STIs.
If youve had unprotected sex, or if you experience symptoms of genital herpes, visit your healthcare provider or local STI clinic for an STI screenings.
If you have genital herpes, be open with your partner and talk about the risks of transmission.
Douching should be avoided, as this may actually increase chances of contracting an STI .
Researchers are working towards the development of other preventative strategies, such as an HSV vaccine and topical microbicides to help prevent the spread of herpes .
How Long Can The Virus Live In The Environment
When saliva or other discharges from an infected cat contaminate the environment, the virus can survive in the material as long as it stays moist. Fortunately the secretions usually dry up in a fairly short period of time, and once the secretion dries up the virus will die. Viral particles that get onto hands or other skin surfaces usually remain infective for about half an hour, while contaminated items such as food or water bowls, kitty litter boxes, blankets, cleaning cloths, and cat toys will be infective as long as the secretions on them remain moist under normal conditions, the secretions will dry up in a few hours.
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Recurrent Herpes Outbreaks How Long Do They Last
Statistically, 8 out of every 10 people who have a primary outbreak will also go on to have a recurrent attack within the first 6 months after the first outbreak. The average amount of recurrent outbreaks is approximately 2 to 3 times annually with each recurring outbreak lasting 3 to 14 days. A herpes infection may be considered chronic if outbreaks occur more than 5 times a year.
The good news is that with each outbreaks, the attacks get less severe than the one that precedes it. The symptoms will be milder with less itching and with no fever or pain. The frequency of outbreaks will also typically diminishes with time. There are patients who have had herpes for a long period of time that reported that they can sometimes go by years without having another episode of herpes outbreak.
Most Outbreaks Occur Within Two Weeks Of Herpes Exposure
If youve been infected with herpes and are symptomatic, youll usually start to experience some effects of the virus within one to two weeks.
An initial herpes outbreak usually lasts for two to three weeks and involves a range of different symptoms. Many people with herpes note that the initial outbreak has the worst symptoms and that subsequent outbreaks are less severe, although this isnt always the case.
Most people start to become aware that they might have herpes after a tingling sensation starts to develop in the area affected by the virus. For oral herpes, this is the start of the development of oral cold sores for genital herpes, the sores develop on the genitals, thighs and buttocks.
Over the course of two to three weeks, this tingling/itching feeling leads to the development of blisters. The blisters eventually open into sores, then dry out and heal. Most herpes outbreaks do not leave any permanent scarring.
During your first herpes outbreak, you might also experience flu or cold-like symptoms. About 70% of women and 40% of men experience some level of flu-like symptoms, such as muscle pains, gland swelling, headaches and fever.
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How Can Herpes Be Prevented
Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmitting or acquiring genital herpes because herpes virus shedding can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.25,26
The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and is known to be uninfected.
Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with partners when herpes lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms, he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.
Daily treatment with valacyclovir decreases the rate of HSV-2 transmission in discordant, heterosexual couples in which the source partner has a history of genital HSV-2 infection. 27 Such couples should be encouraged to consider suppressive antiviral therapy as part of a strategy to prevent transmission, in addition to consistent condom use and avoidance of sexual activity during recurrences.
If You Have Further Questions Contact Your Ob
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Copyright 2021 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. Read copyright and permissions information.
This information is designed as an educational aid for the public. It offers current information and opinions related to womens health. It is not intended as a statement of the standard of care. It does not explain all of the proper treatments or methods of care. It is not a substitute for the advice of a physician. Read ACOGs complete disclaimer.
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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.
Herpes Tests & Diagnosis
Depending on where you are in the stage of exposure or infection, your medical provider may perform an examination or run tests to provide an accurate diagnosis.
- Physical examination: If you have active sores, your doctor may examine them to determine if they appear like HSV-1 or HSV-2 sores.
- Fluid sample: If you have active sores, your medical provider may swab a sore and send the fluid to the laboratory for testing, which can confirm that it is caused by either HSV-1 or HSV-2.
- Blood tests: If you do not have any active sores or other specific physical signs of herpes simplex, your doctor can order blood tests to identify viral antibodies to confirm a diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with HSV-1 or HSV-2, your doctor may be able to prescribe antiviral medication to shorten an active outbreak or help alleviate symptoms.
They may also recommend over-the-counter antiviral creams or other products to provide pain relief.
Some medications, when taken orally or applied topically, can prevent outbreaks if used at the first sign of a sore, such as the initial feelings of tingling that precede the formation of a sore.
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How Long Do Herpes Outbreaks Last
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 .
Unlike the first infection, later outbreaks tend to cause less discomfort and heal much faster. Sores from a recurrent genital herpes outbreak can heal in 37 days . The number of outbreaks people experience with symptoms also .
What Are The Herpes Stages
Leah likes writing about health and science subjects. Through her writing she hopes to help people of all backgrounds have equal access to information and quality healthcare.
Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.
How Long Does It Take For Herpes To Show Up After Exposure
Herpes is not just one type of infection. Its a family of related viruses that can cause several different medical conditions. The herpes infection were talking about when it comes to sex is caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV .
Typically, HSV-1 is responsible for cold sores on the lips and around the mouth. HSV-2 is most commonly transmitted sexually and causes genital herpes, a common sexually transmitted infection . However, HSV-1 can also spread from the mouth to the genitals through oral sex and cause genital herpes.
While the symptoms of herpes usually show up anywhere from a couple of days to about two weeks following exposure, thats not always the case. In some cases, you may be asymptomatic for weeks or months before your first outbreak .
Long story short, if a few weeks have gone by after exposure and you dont have any symptoms, that doesnt necessarily mean youre out of the woods.
Recognizing The Signs: The Prodrome
Early in the phase of reactivation , many people experience an itching, tingling, or painful feeling in the area where their recurrent lesions will develop. This sort of warning symptomcalled a prodromeoften comes a day or two before lesions appear. To be on the safe side, its best to assume virus is active during these times.
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Can Genital Herpes Be Treated
Your physician can prescribe different medications to help reduce your symptoms and speed up the healing of an outbreak. These medicines work best when you start them soon after an outbreak occurs.
To reduce pain during an outbreak:
- Sit in warm water in a portable bath or bathtub for about 20 minutes. Avoid bubble baths.
- Keep your genital area clean and dry, and avoid tight clothes.
- Take over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid aspirin.
Let your physician know if you are worried about your genital herpes. He or she can recommend a support group to help you cope with the virus.
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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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.