Myth #: Herpes Is Only A Sexually Transmitted Infection
Fact: Not all cases of herpes spread through sex. HSV-1 often spreads through contact with the skin or saliva of a person who has the infection.
For instance, people can spread it by kissing, sharing utensils, touching an infected surface, or having skin-to-skin contact.
According to the CDC, who have HSV-1, which can cause cold sores, got it during childhood from nonsexual contact, such as receiving a kiss from a family member.
According to the WHO, however, HSV-2 is .
Is One Virus Better Than The Other
Although incurable, both viruses are treatable and manageable in day-to-day life. Beyond this fact, each persons body chemistry and immune system are unique, and although the virus strains have their preferences, they are not set in stone. Developing awareness of your own body and becoming educated about the herpes simplex virus strains can help you make more sensible decisions and help defeat the stigma of a member of the herpesviridae family.
Can You Tell If Someone Has Herpes Bylooking
No, unless they are having an outbreak,it is not possible to tell for sure whether someone has herpes just by looking.Indeed, they themselves may not be aware theyre carrying the virus either,since its often asymptomatic. And of course, unless youre a trained sexualhealth professional, you could easily misdiagnose something entirely different.
While its easiest to catch herpes whensomeone is having an outbreak on their skin, you can still catch it when thereare no visible signs either. So, just looking at a persons face or body wonttell you if they have herpes or not.
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Herpes Simplex Treatment And Management
Herpes simplex infections cant be cured, but treatments are available to reduce the number and length of outbreaks. The risk of transmitting the infection to others is also reduced.
Daily antiviral medications, such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir, may be prescribed. During an outbreak, self-care strategies can also help manage pain and discomfort.
For an oral herpes outbreak featuring cold sores or blisters around the mouth, do the following:
- Clean the affected area and pat dry
- Use over-the-counter pain relievers or ointments with ingredients such as benzocaine or lidocaine
- Apply OTC antiviral cold sore medication to the lesions to help them heal quicker
- Use petroleum jelly to keep skin from drying out or cracking
- Avoid acidic, spicy, or salty foods that may irritate your lesions
Self-care for a genital herpes outbreak may include:
- Use OTC pain relievers or cool compresses to help manage pain
- Wash affected area with mild soap and gently dry
- Wear loose fitting, cotton underwear
What Are The Types Of Herpes Viruses
Herpes is a group of contagious viruses. All of these viruses cause blisters and sores. Some of the more common herpes viruses include:
- Type 1: HSV-1, or oral herpes, causes cold sores to form on lips, gums, tongue and inside the mouth. It can cause genital herpes in some cases This type usually spreads through saliva when you kiss someone with open herpes sores. You can also get HSV-1 by sharing items like toothbrushes, lipsticks or eating utensils.
- Type 2: HSV-2 causes genital herpes.
- Herpes zoster: This virus causes chickenpox and shingles.
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How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
This type of virus is generally diagnosed with a physical exam. Your doctor may check your body for sores and ask you about some of your symptoms.
Your doctor may also request HSV testing. This is known as a herpes culture. It will confirm the diagnosis if you have sores on your genitals. During this test, your doctor will take a swab sample of fluid from the sore and then send it to a laboratory for testing.
Blood tests for antibodies to HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also help diagnose these infections. This is especially helpful when there are no sores present.
Alternatively, at-home testing for Herpes Simplex is available. You can buy a test kit online from LetsGetChecked here.
If you need help finding a primary care doctor, you can browse doctors in your area through the Healthline FindCare tool.
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How To Get Rid Of Herpes
There is currently no treatment whichwill cure you of herpes. Once you get herpes, you will have it for life. However, as noted above, this is ahighly manageable condition. There are many treatments for herpes whichreduce the pain and make sure your outbreaks clear up fast so you get on withliving your life.
In the end, theres very little difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2.Theyre both annoying and bothersome illnesses. But, at the same time, theyreboth extremely easy to manage and theres no reason for herpes to hold youback.
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How To Tell The Difference Between Hsv1 And Hsv2
The Herpes Simplex Virus is one ofthe most common medical conditions to affect humanity. Indeed, the World Health Organisation estimates two-thirds of people under 50 have the strain known asHSV-1. Another 417 million people have HSV-2, better known as genital herpes.Thats more than the entire population of western Europe.
There are in fact around 100known strands of the herpes virus, of which eightaffect humans. In fact, if you caught chickenpox as a child, youve already hadone form of herpes .
So, what is the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2 and whatshould you do if you think youve caught this common illness?
There Is More Than One Type Of Herpes Infection
There are two types of herpes simplex infection: herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 . Cold sores around the mouth are generally caused by HSV-1. Most cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-2. Cold sores on the mouth can cause genital infection during oral sex for people who do not already carry the cold sore virus. There are many other viruses that are also in the herpes virus family, however the infection and symptoms are different. One example is varicella zoster virus which causes chickenpox and shingles.
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Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
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.
How Do You Get Herpes
The skin on your genitals, mouth, and eyes can be infected easily. Other areas of skin may get infected if theres a way for the herpes virus to get in, like through a cut, burn, rash, or other sores. You dont have to have sex to get herpes. Sometimes herpes can be passed in non-sexual ways, like if a parent with a cold sore gives you a peck on the lips. Most people with oral herpes got it when they were kids. A mother can pass genital herpes to a baby during vaginal childbirth, but thats pretty rare.
You can spread herpes to other parts of your body if you touch a herpes sore and then touch your mouth, genitals, or eyes without washing your hands first. You can also pass herpes to someone else this way.
Herpes is most contagious when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also shed and get passed to others when there are no sores and your skin looks totally normal.
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What Is The Herpes Simplex Virus
The Herpes Simplex Virus is a kind ofvirus which affects the skin and nervous system. It is best known for creatingoutbreaks of sores which can range from mild and uncomfortable, to extremelypainful.
Liquid-filled sores typically appear nearmucous membranes on the skin then, after a few days, the sores break, leaving ayellowish crust on the skin. Outbreaks typically last for around two weeks.
The first herpes outbreak is typicallythe most painful and is often accompanied by headaches, flu-like symptoms andpainful sores. Subsequent outbreaks tend to be less severe and appear lessfrequently over time. These outbreaks are most likely to happen when yourimmune system is down for some reason .
What Are The Complications Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes may cause painful genital ulcers that can be severe and persistent in persons with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV-infected persons. 5 Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also cause rare but serious complications such as aseptic meningitis . 5 Development of extragenital lesions may occur during the course of infection. 5
There are also potential complications for a pregnant woman and her newborn child. See How does herpes infection affect a pregnant woman and her baby? below for information about this.
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Herpes Is A Common Infection
Herpes is a super-common infection that stays in your body for life. More than half of Americans have oral herpes, and about 1 out of 6 Americans has genital herpes. So chances are a few people you know are living with herpes.
Theres no cure for herpes, but medication can ease your symptoms and lower your chances of giving the virus to other people. And the good news is, outbreaks usually become less frequent over time, and even though herpes can sometimes be uncomfortable and painful, its not dangerous. People with herpes have relationships, have sex, and live perfectly healthy lives.
Who Is At Risk For Developing Herpes Simplex Infections
Anyone can contract HSV, regardless of age. If youre exposed to HSV, youre likely to contract the virus.
Remember, HSV is very common. But because its often asymptomatic, plenty of people living with the virus never have an episode or realize theyve contracted HSV.
You may have a higher chance of contracting the virus if you:
- have a sexual partner who lives with HSV
- were assigned female at birth . suggests more AFAB folks than people assigned male at birth develop HSV, but this could also mean AFAB folks are more likely to experience symptoms.
- are immunocompromised
Some older research suggests HSV-1 antibodies may offer AFAB folks some protection against contracting HSV-2. Still, many people living with one type of the virus do contract the other type later on. You wont contract the same type of the virus again, though, since it remains dormant in your body once you acquire it.
You may have a slightly higher chance of contracting genital HSV if you have sex without using condoms or other barrier methods. Keep in mind, though, that condoms and other barrier methods wont always cover the infection site, since sores can appear on the buttocks or inner thighs.
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The Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1
The herpes simplex virus is probably the most well-known virus of the herpes family, and it is just as contagious. Herpes simplex infects epithelial cells and remains latent in neurons. HSV-1 causes recurrent oropharyngeal lesions, commonly known as fever blisters” or “cold sores.
It is also the primary cause of sporadic encephalitis , gingivostomatitis , and keratoconjunctivitis and dendritic corneal ulcers in which the cornea becomes affected by herpetic lesions that look like the dendrites of neurons in the brain.
A dendritic corneal ulcer stained with fluorescein.
Its rapid growth cycle of approximately eight to sixteen hours begins at the site of infection. Because the virus fuses to the cells of its host, it’s easily spread from cell to cell. The lesions on the surface of the skin are caused by the damage, and ultimate death, the virus causes to host cells.
HSV – 1 or herpes simplex as a cold sore
First infections usually manifest in children otherwise the infection is asymptomatic in most cases. Symptomatic cases in adults typically manifest as tonsillitis or pharyngitis.
Lymphadenopathy may occur, but will remain localized to the area affected. Recurrent infections typically manifest in the trigeminal ganglia.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby
Neonatal herpes is one of the most serious complications of genital herpes.5,16 Healthcare providers should ask all pregnant women if they have a history of genital herpes.11 Herpes infection can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth, or babies may be infected shortly after birth, resulting in a potentially fatal neonatal herpes infection. 17 Infants born to women who acquire genital herpes close to the time of delivery and are shedding virus at delivery are at a much higher risk for developing neonatal herpes, compared with women who have recurrent genital herpes . 16,18-20 Thus, it is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. Women should be counseled to abstain from intercourse during the third trimester with partners known to have or suspected of having genital herpes. 5,11
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More Considerations About The Effects Of These Viruses
The herpes simplex virus type 1 can also affect other parts of the skull such as the face, throat, or eyes. To understand this scope, it is necessary to go beyond observing the affected area, since the infection is properly of the central nervous system.
Although the mouth is the most common area, it is an infection that occurs in the mucous membranes. The infection occurs at the end of the sensory nerves of the mucosa, but its spread is to the bodies of the sensory nerve cells. This is where it becomes latent and resides permanently.
Similarly, the herpes simplex virus type 2 may not only target the genital area. It is not common, but it can affect the entire anogenital area and extend beyond its most usual area of ââinvolvement.
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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Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.
How To Prevent Herpes
Because most herpes viruses dont cause any symptoms initially, it can be difficult to prevent their spread. You can, however, reduce your chances of becoming infected by avoiding contact with peoples body fluids particularly when someone is having an outbreak or active infection. Prevention tips include:
- Not sharing drinks, food, or eating utensils.
- Not sharing toothbrushes.
- Not kissing someone whos having an HSV-1 outbreak.
- Avoiding contact with objects that have infants saliva on them.
- Using barrier methods such as condoms during sex.
The sole herpes vaccine that exists is only licensed to prevent VZV.
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What Is Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is primarily caused by HSV-1, although it is also possible to have an HSV-2 infection around the mouth.
A person with an oral herpes outbreak may first feel itching, burning, or tingling around the mouth, lips, or tongue. Later, cold sores or small blisters may develop in these areas or anywhere on the skin.
Roughly four to six days after these cold sores start leaking, they start healing by forming a crust. Outbreaks of oral herpes can last for two to three weeks, which can be shorter than the two to six weeks of a genital herpes outbreak.
People who develop symptoms of herpes may first experience tingling, itching, or burning, then notice sores or blisters forming around the mouth or genitals.
Symptoms tend to develop 220 days after exposure to the virus.