How To Treat An Hsv
Herpes outbreaks can range from a minor inconvenience to a major annoyance. Outbreaks of genital herpes can be particularly frustrating, as they can have a major effect on your personal relationship with your partner or partners.
Luckily, herpes is relatively easy to manage using modern medication. Most doctors recommend the use of antiviral medication like valacyclovir, which suppresses the herpes virus from multiplying within the body.
During an outbreak, this can prevent viral replication and speed up healing. Between outbreaks, the use of antiviral drugs can prevent viral shedding and reduce your risk of passing on herpes to other people through oral or sexual contact.
Want to learn more about treating herpes? Our comparison of valacyclovir, acyclovir, famciclovir and other herpes drugs explains how modern herpes medicine works, why its effective and how you can use it to minimize the negative effects of HSV-1 or HSV-2 outbreaks.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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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.
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.
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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.
For more information on spotting an outbreak, check out our guide on Herpes or Ingrown Hair? How to Tell The Difference.
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.
Risk For Genital Herpes
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 1 in 6 Americans ages 14 to 49 years have genital herpes. While HSV-2 remains the main cause of genital herpes, HSV-1 has significantly increased as a cause, most likely because of oral-genital sex. Except for people in monogamous relationships with uninfected partners, everyone who is sexually active is at risk for genital herpes.
Risk factors for genital herpes include:
- History of an STD
- First sexual intercourse at an early age
- High number of sexual partners
- Low socioeconomic status
Women are more susceptible to HSV-2 infection because herpes is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men. About 1 in 5 women, compared to 1 in 9 men, have genital herpes. African-American women are at particularly high risk.
People with compromised immune systems, such as those who have HIV, are at very high risk for genital herpes. These people are also at risk for more severe complications from herpes. Drugs that suppress the immune system, and organ transplantation, can also weaken the immune system and increase the risk for contracting genital herpes.
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What’s Involved In Herpes Testing
If there are blisters or sores, a healthcare provider may gently swab the area to take a fluid sample and test it. If there are no sores, but you are concerned you may have been exposed, a blood test may done. Herpes tests are not normally recommended unless you have symptoms.
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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When To See A Healthcare Provider
If you’ve been diagnosed with herpes, there are some circumstances where you may benefit from medical care. These may include having:
- An outbreak that isn’t helped by treatment and self-care strategies
Self-care strategies during outbreaks can help with pain and discomfort, including:
- Keeping the affected area clean and dry
- Using over-the-counter pain relievers
- Place cold compresses over affected areas
For at-home care for cold sores specifically:
- Apply non-prescription antiviral ointment
- Avoid eating spicy, acidic, or salty foods
- Use petroleum jelly to keep surrounding skin moisturized
What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles
Usually, shingles develops only on one side of the body or face and in a small area rather than all over. The most common place for shingles is a band that goes around one side of your waistline.
Most people have some of the following shingles symptoms:
- Burning, tingling, or numbness of the skin
- Feeling sickchills, fever, upset stomach, or headache
- Fluid-filled blisters
- Skin that is sensitive to touch
- Mild itching to strong pain
Depending on where shingles develops, it could also cause symptoms like hiccups or even loss of vision.
For some people, the symptoms of shingles are mild. They might just have some itching. For others, shingles can cause intense pain that can be felt from the gentlest touch or breeze.
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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.
Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles
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.
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What Causes Recurrent Herpes Simplex Labialis
Herpes simplex labialis is the result of a virus called herpes simplex virus type 1 . The initial acquisition usually occurs before age 20. It typically affects the lips and areas around the mouth.
You can get the virus from close personal contact, such as through kissing, with someone who has the virus. You can also get oral herpes from touching objects where the virus may be present. These include towels, utensils, razors for shaving, and other shared items.
Since the virus lays dormant inside the nerve cells of the face for the rest of a persons life, symptoms arent always present. However, certain events can make the virus reawaken and lead to a recurrent herpes outbreak.
Events that trigger a recurrence of oral herpes might include:
The original acquisition may not cause symptoms at all. If it does, blisters may appear near or on the mouth within 1 to 3 weeks after your first contact with the virus. The blisters might last up to 3 weeks.
In general, a recurrent episode is milder than the initial outbreak.
Symptoms of a recurrent episode may include:
- blisters or sores on the mouth, lips, tongue, nose, or gums
- burning pain around the blisters
- tingling or itching near the lips
- outbreaks of several small blisters that grow together and may be red and inflamed
Tingling or warmth on or near the lips is usually a warning sign that the cold sores of recurrent oral herpes are about to appear in 1 to 2 days.
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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.
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How To Manage The First Outbreak
They can be extremely painful, and its important to see a doctor in case you need a prescription like Valocyclovir or Acyclovir. The sooner you start taking it, the more likely you are to curb the outbreak.
Unfortunately, no drug cures the condition. However, if you receive anti-viral medications promptly, you might experience the following benefits:
- Speedy recovery
- Fewer chances of future outbreaks
- A decrease in the severity of symptoms
Here are a few more self-care tips on how to deal with the symptoms:
- Consider taking an over-the-counter pain-killer like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches and fever.
- Apply cold compresses on the area. This will help with the burning, inflammation, and itching.
- Clean the sores regularly. This will speed the recovery.
To sum up, the first herpes outbreak can be challenging to deal with, especially if you are experimenting with your sexuality. However, proper self-care and promptly seeking expert help can ensure speedy recovery.
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In most cases, the herpes outbreak which is caused due to the herpes simplex virus type 1 virus lasts for about a minimum of 1 week to a maximum of 3 weeks on average.
On the other hand, in most cases, the herpes outbreak which is caused due to the herpes simplex virus type 2 virus lasts for about a minimum of 2 weeks to a maximum of 4 weeks on average.
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How Is It Treated
Although there is no cure, medicine can relieve pain and itching and help sores heal faster. If you have a lot of outbreaks, you may take medicine every day to limit the number of outbreaks.
After the first outbreak, some people have just a few more outbreaks over their lifetime, while others may have 4 to 6 outbreaks a year. Usually the number of outbreaks decreases after a few years.
Treatment works best if it is started as soon as possible after the start of an outbreak. This is especially true for outbreaks that come back again and again.
Finding out that you have herpes may cause you to feel bad about yourself or about sex. Counseling or a support group may help you feel better.
What Are The Possible Complications Of Oral Herpes
Autoinoculation from touching a cold sore on the lip can cause herpes of the finger . Autoinoculation occurs most commonly at the time of primary infection, when viral shedding is high and the immune system is still gearing up to contain it. The antibodies that are made after primary infection are usually but not always successful in preventing autoinoculation during recurrent attacks.
A more serious complication is infection of the eye, or ocular herpes . It may be a mild surface ulceration with little discomfort, or it may cause deeper, painful ulcers that threaten vision. Ocular herpes is also caused by autoinoculation. If not treated, ocular herpes may lead to serious damage or even blindness.
Rarely, herpes simplex may infect the brain, causing encephalitis. This infection requires hospitalization and intravenous antiviral medications. HSV-1 is among the commonest causes of fatal viral encephalitis worldwide.
In immunocompromised people, such as those with HIV infection or those receiving chemotherapy, severe outbreaks of herpes may occur. Colds sores may spread to large parts of the lower face or invade organs. Antiviral drugs are used to prevent or lessen such attacks.
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Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
Herpes Simplex Virus: The Basics First
Before jumping into the details, lets first discuss some basics.
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Herpes infection is due to a virus called the Herpes Simplex Virus . Its two types are HSV1 and HSV2. While HSV2 is more notorious for genital herpes outbreaks, and HSV1 is commonly known for cold sores of the mouth, both can cause the sexually transmitted infection.
HSV2 is also known for more severe symptoms and outbreaks, as well as a greater number of them. Where a person might get four to five outbreaks of genital herpes with HSV2, that number could be one to two outbreaks per year with genital herpes from HSV1.
Not to worry many people have fewer outbreaks as time goes on, or even stop having them entirely.
Keep in mind, however, that this is highly personal. Different people can expect different outcomes, but everyone can take steps to manage them.
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Herpes Rash On Various Body Parts
The first outbreak typically occurs two to 12 days after contracting the virus, and the sores usually last for about seven to 10 days.
Most people with a herpes infection will not develop symptoms or will experience only a mild rash.
A classic herpes outbreak usually involves one or more blisters that start as small red bumps. They may resemble a group of pimples or ingrown hairs. They then progress to fluid-filled blisters before rupturing and oozing fluid that crusts over. Its common to feel tingling, itching, or burning a day or two before the rash appears.
Herpes sores usually present around the mouth or genital area. Oral herpes appears as cold sores on the lips or around the mouth. The sores may be painful and itchy.
Touching herpes sores can transfer the virus to your fingers and then any other body part that you touch. If you accidentally touch an open herpes sore, wash your hands right away to prevent spreading it to other areas of your body.
It is also possible to experience herpes gladiatorum, a skin infection that can appear anywhere on the body and is spread by skin-to-skin contact. Herpes gladiatorum, also known as mat herpes, is commonly found in athletes, such as wrestlers who experience skin-to-skin contact in their sport. It is also commonly found in military service members who undergo hand-to-hand combat training.