What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes
Many people with genital herpes wonât get any symptoms, or may get symptoms for the first time months or even years after they were infected.
For most people, the first blisters go away within a month. Although the outbreaks clear-up by themselves, the virus stays in the body. This means that people usually get blisters again â which is called having a ârecurrent outbreakâ. Outbreaks usually become shorter and less severe over time.
Other symptoms can include:
tingling or burning around the genitals
feeling unwell, with aches, pains and flu-like symptoms
unusual vaginal discharge in women.
At What Stage Is Herpes Contagious
Its important to note that herpes is contagious in every stage but is most contagious during the ulcer stage when the blisters have burst open, and fluid is present. Since herpes is spread through skin-to-skin contact with infected areas, it is crucial to take preventative measures to stop the spread, including using condoms and dental dams. However, its always advisable to refrain from sexual activity, touching, and kissing when experiencing a herpes outbreak. Wait until you have fully healed before having sexual intercourse, and refrain from touching your sores, since this is an easy way to spread the virus.
An effective way to prevent a herpes outbreak and the spread of herpes is by taking prescription medication from a doctor. Some common medications prescribed for herpes treatment include:
These are all taken in pill form, while severe cases may need to be treated with an acyclovir IV.
Whether oral or genital, you can start treatment during any of the various herpes outbreak stages from onset to healing to prevent another flare-up.
Are you experiencing any signs or symptoms of a herpes outbreak? Book an appointment through the Air Dr app with one of our qualified physicians to get the medical care you need today.
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.
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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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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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What Triggers A Herpes Outbreak
As we mentioned, following you first herpes infection, the virus lies dormant in your nerves. Your immune system usually keeps it at bay.
But your immune system can only deal with so much at once. That means if you have dormant herpes and your immune system needs to fend off another virus or bacteria, it may get distracted, allowing herpes to crop up. Thats why cold sores are called cold sores or fever blistersthey typically appear when you catch another bug .
Different types of stress can also trigger outbreaks. Psychological stress, especially the stress caused by extreme emotional upset, can lead to an outbreak .
Things that cause physical stress can also contribute. Sunlight is a common trigger of oral herpes outbreaks, while friction from tight clothing or sex, and even hormone changes associated with menstruation, are common triggers of genital herpes outbreaks .
Speak to a healthcare provider about your options and which treatments might be effective for preventing or shortening your outbreaks.
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.
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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.
Drying Out Herpes Blisters Quickly
Used to quite an active member but have generally come to terms a little with my illness over the past ten months. As a back story I caught herpes off my new partner. He didnt know he had it and it was a terribly tough time. Ive been through a major depressive period, but to those of you struggling, there is light at the end of the tunnel. On suppressive therapy and looking after myself I have been herpes free for about 8 months which has been awesome.
Unfortunately Ive just been on holiday and got a little lazy in taking my daily tablets And here I am. 5 days into an awful outbreak.
Has anyone got any advice on how to heal the broken sores quicker ? Ive been bathing and keeping them clean, washing with soap and water and applying some witch hazel but this is dragging out now, some of the sores are still not drying and obviously it is irritated and causing me pain. Walking and sitting in my work clothes is not comfortable and I just want this to end ASAP ! I forgot how annoying the outbreaks are!!
Do any of you apply anything directly to your sores ? Bearing in mind I am female and this is already a sensitive area and I dont want to irritate myself further
Thanks in advance for any suggestions, willing to try absolutely anything at the moment.
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Is It Possible To Prevent Cold Sores
The best way to prevent a herpes simplex infection is to avoid physical contact with someone elses cold sores. Items that touch the lips but cannot be washed or sanitized, such as lipstick or lip balm, should not be shared. During an outbreak, frequent hand washing and sanitizing with 60% ethanol-based hand sanitizer will help reduce the spread of the virus to other parts of the body or to other people. Wash hands immediately after applying topical treatments to a cold sore. L-lysine and other supplements have not been shown to consistently reduce outbreaks.
To prevent future outbreaks,
- avoid long periods of time in the sun and use sunblock on lips and face,
- reduce stress by getting adequate rest and relaxation,
- avoid trauma to the mouth or involved area, and
- take any antiviral medication exactly as prescribed.
What Are The Herpes Outbreak Stages
- Lauren Stuttaford
Herpes, otherwise known as the herpes simplex virus, is categorized into two types: herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 .
The first is mainly transmitted through oral-to-oral contact causing oral herpes but can also cause genital herpes. While HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted infection that causes genital herpes. Both types of the infection are lifelong.
A person infected with herpes, whether oral or genital, might show no symptoms or could progress through the different herpes outbreak stages from blister development to herps healing. However, most herpes infections are asymptomatic.
According to the World Health Organization , an estimated 3.7 billion people under 50 years old have HSV-1 infection globally, and an estimated 491 million people between the ages of 15-49 have HSV-2 infection worldwide.
Astonishingly, the virus causing genital herpes or HSV-2 increases the risk of contracting and transmitting HIV, putting millions at greater risk of contracting an HIV infection.
Lets take a closer look at the herpes outbreak stages.
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How Long After Herpes Outbreak Is It Still Contagious
For oral herpes, cold sores are usually contagious for up to 15 days and are generally no longer contagious once all symptoms have cleared, which includes the blister itself and any scabbing.
Someone carrying genital herpes should wait until 7 days after the sore heals to begin engaging in sexual activity, as the herpes virus can spread from sores not covered by a condom.
Valacyclovir For First Herpes Outbreaks
For first-time herpes outbreaks, valacyclovir is most effective when its used within 48 hours of symptoms appearing.
The standard dosage of valacyclovir for first-time herpes outbreaks is 1,000 mg two times per day over a period of 10 days. Valacyclovir usually starts treating herpes symptoms as soon as its in your system, but can take several days to produce a noticeable improvement.
It can take up to 10 days for herpes blisters to heal even with valacyclovir treatment. This makes it important to start treatment as soon as you notice herpes symptoms.
In some cases, your doctor might prescribe valacyclovir for a longer period than 10 days or at a different dosage. In this case, follow your doctors instructions and make sure you complete the full course of the medication, even if the herpes blisters heal before the end of the period.
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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.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex
Many people with the infection never experience any herpes symptoms. If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a repeat outbreak. Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.
People who do have herpes symptoms may experience:
- Cold sores around their lips, mouth or tongue. They may look crusty or like fluid-filled blisters.
- Tingling, itching or burning.
- Pain while urinating.
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How To Treat Outbreaks
Herpes is an extremely common infection caused by the transmission of the Herpes Simplex Virus. Once acquired, individuals will experience genital or oral ulcers for the rest of their lives. The severity of outbreaks changes over time, with the initial episode generally being the most painful and emotionally difficult. Prescription antiviral medication, Valacyclovir helps decrease the severity and frequency of herpes outbreaks. Keep meds on hand, and take what you need as soon as you need it to avoid painful outbreaks.
How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
If you have a herpes sore, your dermatologist can often diagnose you by looking at the sore and taking a swab from the sore. A lab test can tell whether the sore contains the herpes simplex virus , which is what causes genital herpes.
If you dont have a sore or any symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control doesnt recommend testing for most people. You can learn whether you should be tested if you dont have symptoms at:
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How Do You Get Rid Of A Herpes Outbreak Fast
The most effective treatment method is prescription medication from a doctor. This can be in the form of topical cream or an oral medication.
If you suspect you have herpes and would like to speak to a physician and/or get tested and treated online, book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor now.
We accept insurance and appointments are available every 15 minutes. Our doctors can order lab tests for a herpes test and diagnose you based on the results.
If you have already been diagnosed with herpes they can prescribe you a treatment plan, including any necessary medications.
Differences Between Oral And Genital Herpes Outbreaks
The location of the sores is the main difference between the two types of herpes. Oral herpes sores generally develop on the mouth and lips, usually at the border of the lip where it meets the skin of the face.
Genital herpes sores can occur in a wider variety of locations depending on where the virus entered the body. These locations may include:
- For women and men:
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Simple Treatments For The Relief Of Discomfort
- Wear loose underclothes, preferably cotton , to help minimise discomfort and allow healing.
- Use plain water or saline solution with cotton wool to clean and soothe the area. To make a saline solution, use 1 teaspoon of salt in 600ml of water or a handful of salt in a shallow bath.
- Dont use scented soaps, bubble bath, etc in the area, as these may irritate it.
- Using a hairdryer on its lowest setting to dry the area may be more comfortable than using a towel.
- Pain relief medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may ease the pain. Check with your pharmacist or other health professional whether taking these is suitable for you.
- Ice wrapped in a face cloth or flannel and placed over the sores for 510 minutes may be soothing. Dont apply ice directly to the sores as this can cause ice burn.
- If you find peeing painful, try applying Vaseline® to the area or sitting in a warm bath before urinating or using a pump bottle full of water and spraying water on yourself while peeing.
- You can also try applying a pain relief cream such as lignocaine cream to the painful area. This is applied 5 minutes before peeing and should be used for a maximum of 12 days.
- Drink plenty of fluids as this dilutes your pee and may help reduce stinging.