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.
Best Affordable Herpes Test: Healthlabs
HealthLabs offers laboratory-based herpes tests. These may be the best option for people who do not have health insurance and those working with small budgets.
|does not require appointments and accepts walk-ins|
|Con||requires a visit to a laboratory for a healthcare professional to collect the sample|
After placing an order, the person receives a laboratory requisition form, which they need to print out and present at a laboratory. The company claims it has 4,500 laboratory locations, and individuals should receive their test results within 23 business days.
HealthLabs has three herpes tests available for purchase:
- a test for HSV-1, which costs $45
- a test for HSV-2, which costs $45
- a test for HSV-1 and HSV-2, which costs $79
People may also order at-home tests for other STIs, including gonorrhea, chlamydia, and HIV.
|offers tests for early detection of herpes|
|Con||requires a visit to a laboratory|
To order either herpes test, a person must access the company website and enter their ZIP code to find their nearest testing center.
The company claims it has over 4,000 private test centers across the United States.
After ordering the herpes test, a person can walk into their local center to receive the testing. An appointment is not necessary.
The test procedure involves a simple blood test and urine sample, which typically takes a matter of minutes. A person can expect to receive their online test results within 13 days.
Comparing And Contrasting Laboratory And At
There are significant differences between genital and oral herpes tests conducted at-home and those ordered by a doctor.
Several important tests used to diagnose genital and oral herpes are not available as at-home tests. Herpes viral cultures and polymerase chain reaction testing, both of which are only conducted in-lab, are the preferred tests for patients during a genital or oral herpes outbreak.
Although in-lab testing is more appropriate for most patients, it can be inconvenient and may cost more than at-home testing.
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What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
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.
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When Is It Ordered
HSV PCR testing or herpes culture may be ordered when you have signs and symptoms of a herpes infection, such as a blister or blisters on or around your eye, mouth, genitals or rectum.
Herpes PCR testing may be ordered when you have signs and symptoms of encephalitis that a healthcare practitioner suspects may be caused by a virus. Examples of these signs and symptoms include:
Prenatal and newborn testing
- A pregnant woman who has been diagnosed with herpes may be monitored regularly prior to delivery to detect a reactivation of her infection.
- A baby born to a mother who has active lesions during delivery may be tested before symptoms appear to assess whether the baby was exposed to HSV during delivery.
- A mother and newborn may be tested for HSV soon after delivery when a baby shows signs of HSV infection, such as meningitis or skin lesions that could be caused by the herpes virus.
HSV antibody testing may be done when your healthcare practitioner wants to determine if you have been exposed to HSV in the past.
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Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
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What Should I Do If I Test Positive For Herpes
If you test positive for herpes, our doctors can provide you with expert advice on your next steps, including your treatment options and how to protect yourself and your partners. Herpes has no cure. However, the symptoms can be managed using medication. Some treatments can help to reduce the length of outbreaks and how often they happen.
Can Herpes Be Transmitted During Its Incubation Period
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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Are There Any Risks To The Test
There is no known risk to having a swab test.
There is very little risk to having a blood test. You may have slight pain or bruising at the spot where the needle was put in, but most symptoms go away quickly.
If you had a lumbar puncture, you may have pain or tenderness in your back where the needle was inserted. You may also get a headache after the procedure.
Testing With No Symptoms
Blood tests can be used when a person has no visible symptoms but has concerns about having herpes. Blood tests do not actually detect the virus instead, they look for antibodies in the blood.
IgM vs. IgG
When an individual contracts herpes, the immune system responds by developing antibodies to fight the virus: IgG and IgM. Blood tests can look for and detect these antibodiesnot the virus itself. IgG appears soon after infection and stays in the blood for life. IgM is actually the first antibody that appears after infection, but it may disappear thereafter.
IgM tests are not recommended because of three serious problems:
The accurate herpes blood tests detect IgG antibodies. Unlike IgM, IgG antibodies can be accurately broken down to either HSV-1 or HSV-2. The challenge here is that the time it takes for IgG antibodies to reach detectable levels can vary from person to person. For one person, it could take just a few weeks, while it could take a few months for another. So even with the accurate tests, a person could receive a false negative if the test is taken too soon after contracting the virus.
For the most accurate test result, it is recommended to wait 12 16 weeks from the last possible date of exposure before getting an accurate, type-specific blood test in order to allow enough time for antibodies to reach detectable levels.
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What Is Std Screening Exactly
Getting a screening test means that we look for an infection when you may not have any symptoms. Just like you get a mammogram, or screen for colon cancer, its also important to screen for sexually transmitted infections . There are no exact recommended times or tests that we recommend for everyone. These testing recommendations depend on your lifestyle and risk level.
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What Are The Symptoms And Signs Of Herpes
Oral and genital Herpes infections often have no symptoms or mild symptoms that can either go unnoticed or be mistaken for other types of bacterial or fungal infections, in both men and women. Occasionally, the virus may be present with no visible signs and can still be passed on, by a process called âasymptomatic viral sheddingâ.
Did you know?
1 in 3 people with Herpes will have symptoms, whilst 2 in 3 will only have mild symptoms or none at all.
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Is There A Cure For Herpes
While there is currently no cure for HSV-2, that doesnt mean that it isnt treatable.
While you cant get rid of the HSV-2 or HSV-1 virus after contracting it, outbreaks can be effectively treated and managed.
Some common antiviral medications to treat herpes outbreaks include:
You can either take one of these medications daily or on a need-by-need basis. Speak with your physician about which plan might be right for you.
Are Sti Tests Always Accurate
Before you think about getting tested, its important to understand how these tests actually work. STIs only show up on the tests a few weeks after a potential incident. This is because these tests often arenât looking for the virus or bacteria in your body. Instead, they search for the antibodies your immune system has created to fight off the invading infection. It takes your body a few days to create these antibodies, which means it takes time for the test to pick up on them. This means that if the condom breaks on Saturday night, you unfortunately canât rush to Planned Parenthood first thing Monday morning to find out if you are positive for an STI.
Each STI has a different lag time between when you get it and when it will show up on a test. You can test positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia in two weeks. Syphilis can show up in one week or take three months to surface on a test. HIV and Hepatitis B and C can show up as early as one month on a rapid test , but in certain cases it can take six months to show. Whenever you get your STI results, youre really getting them for a previous version of yourself.
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Why Is Testing For Genital Herpes Only Recommended For People Who Have Symptoms
CDC recommends herpes testing for people who have genital symptoms for herpes to confirm that they are infected. These events are called having an outbreak, and they appear as blisters on or around the genitals, rectum, or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take weeks to heal. Testing allows a doctor to talk with you about what to expect in the future, which medications are available to help manage any symptoms, and how you can lower your risk of spreading the infection to your sex partner.
If you have a partner with genital herpes, testing can tell if you also have the virus. If you are not infected, your doctor can talk to you about ways to lower your risk of getting genital herpes. If you are a pregnant woman and have a partner with genital herpes, it is very important to get tested. If you get genital herpes during pregnancy your baby could also become infected. Herpes infections in babies can be life-threatening. If you are infected, your doctor will talk to you about your diagnosis and the possible symptoms of genital herpes. In addition, herpes blood testing may be useful if you are seeking a complete STD exam, especially if you have multiple sex partners.
Which Herpes Test Should You Get
Each method of testing for herpes has advantages and disadvantages, from time and cost, to an increased possibility of false results. Often, people concerned about the virus use a range of herpes testing to get a more accurate, proven picture of whether or not theyre infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Since herpes is a lifelong infection that cant be cured, its important to discuss testing options with your healthcare provider and make sure you receive an accurate result. Your healthcare provider will be able to tell you more about the best options for herpes testing based on your symptoms and situation.
Typically, your healthcare provider will carry out a physical exam before choosing the best testing method for you. As herpes symptoms tend to be worst during the initial outbreak of the virus, its best to talk to your healthcare provider as soon as you start experiencing symptoms.
In the event that you do have herpes, theres no need to panic. Both oral and genital herpes are extremely common, and a variety of effective treatments are available for both.
Our Valacyclovir 101 guide goes into more detail about one of the most common, effective drugs for treating both symptomatic and asymptomatic herpes. You can also learn more about the risk of catching herpes in our guide to how herpes is transmitted between people.
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When Should I Get A Genital And Oral Herpes Test
In general, genital and oral herpes testing is only recommended for patients that show symptoms of an HSV infection, patients who are at an increased risk of contracting the virus , and patients who may develop severe complications from an infection.
There are no expert guidelines for when to use an at-home genital and oral herpes test. Lab-based testing overseen by a doctor is typically recommended for patients experiencing active symptoms that could be caused by an HSV infection. Symptoms of HSV infection may be mild or severe, including:
- Itching, burning, or tingling near the site of infection
- Blisters or rashes
Genital and oral herpes testing may also be recommended for certain groups of people, including:
- Sexual partners of people diagnosed with genital herpes
- People looking for a comprehensive STD test panel, particularly those with multiple sexual partners
- Infants born to a parent with an HSV infection, as herpes can spread to the baby during pregnancy.
Outside of these groups of people, screening for herpes in patients without symptoms or the above factors is not recommended by expert groups.
If a patient is concerned about having genital or oral herpes, its important to talk to a doctor. A doctor can assess the patients risk for HSV, discuss testing strategies, and evaluate whether at-home testing is appropriate.
How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.
If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.
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Can Herpes Simplex Virus Cause Serious Infections
Yes. The most serious, or life-threatening, HSV infections can occur in newborns who are infected during birth and in individuals with weakened immune systems , such as organ transplant recipients and people with HIV/AIDS. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition, but also very rare. While 25-30% of pregnant women have genital herpes, less than 0.1% of babies born in the U.S. each year get neonatal herpes. This means that most women with genital herpes give birth to healthy babies.
HSV lesions tend to be more extensive and persist longer in newborns and immunocompromised people than in individuals who have healthy immune systems.
V Symptoms Of Oral Herpes
In addition to the presence of fever blisters and cold sores around the mouth, the following symptoms of oral herpes may appear:
- Newborns may experience fever, become lethargic, or have seizures.
- Young children may also experience fever or flu-like symptoms.
- Adults may have a sore throat and lymph node swelling.
If you have symptoms, avoid kissing people on the mouth, performing oral sex, or sharing items such as cups and utensils.
While some people experience severe or mild symptoms, others may not have any symptoms.
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