What Are The Causes Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is spread by skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the HSV virus, usually during genital or oral sex. It can also be spread through kissing, foreplay or non-penetrative sex.
- HSV1 commonly causes cold sores on the lips or face.
- HSV2 causes most genital herpes.
The HSV virus is most easily spread when there are blisters or sores, but it can still be passed even if a person has no current blisters or sores or other symptoms.
You cannot get genital herpes from things like hugging, swimming pools or toilet seats.
See A Doctor You Trust
Herpes leg pain and nerve pain seem to be fairly common among genital herpes sufferers, but that doesnt mean all GPs are aware of it. Its important to find a physician you trust to discuss your symptoms and treatment options. If needed, feel free to show this to your practitioner.
Fortunately, when treated like any prodrome symptom, herpes nerve pain is useful as a warning of an outbreak or a contagious period. By treating the symptoms like a regular herpes outbreak, the discomfort can be resolved quickly.
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Can I Treat Herpes Simplex At Home
Avoiding known triggers, such as illness or stress, can help reduce how often you have herpes outbreaks.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-1 ?
- Over-the-counter creams such as L-lysine, benzocaine or docosanol .
- Applying ice to blisters or sores.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-2 ?
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep your genitals dry. Wear cotton or other nonsynthetic underpants and avoid tight-fitting clothes. Moist sores take longer to heal.
- Soak in a warm bath.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain.
- Topical 1% or 2% lidocaine may be used as a topical analgesic.
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Home Care Measures For Genital Herpes
First, simple self-care may be enough to relieve most discomfort caused by genital herpes. Taking an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen, can help ease the pain of herpes symptoms. Doctors sometimes recommend soaking the affected area in warm water. But the area should be kept dry most of the time. If toweling off after bathing is uncomfortable, try using a hair dryer. Then put on cotton underwear. Cotton absorbs moisture better than synthetic fabric does.
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What Does Genital Herpes Look Like
While some people with genital herpes will never have any symptoms, other people can develop symptoms within a few weeks of being infected.
Often, before the lesions appear, patients describe a prodrome, characterized by a tingling or burning sensation in the area where the lesions will develop that can be noticed during urination, along with itching or discomfort in the genital area.
You can also have the following symptoms:
- Blisters on the mouth or lips
- Fever, headache or pain in the joints
- Trouble urinating
The symptoms of genital herpes often go away and come back as recurring outbreaks. For most people, the first outbreak is the worst, and can last from two to three weeks. Future flare-ups are often less severe and do not last as long. Still, some people shed the virus regularly. The following triggers can make outbreaks more likely to occur:
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Menstrual periods
Recurrent genital herpes is most common in the first year after the initial infection and decreases as time goes on.
In many cases, anti-herpes medicine can help patients. When a person experiences a prodrome and suspects a recurrence is going to happen, they begin taking anti-herpes medications that lessen symptoms and shorten the time of the outbreak.
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What Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is an infection caused by the cold sore virus called herpes simplex virus or HSV. The symptoms are sores and blisters on and around the genitals. It can be very painful. As you can get genital herpes by having sex or from intimate sexual contact, it is known as a sexually transmitted infection . HSV can infect any mucus membrane in the body, like the mouth, for example.
Genital herpes is a chronic long-term condition. Unfortunately, there is no cure, but it is possible to manage the symptoms using antiviral medicines. Once you get the herpes virus, it stays in your body, lying dormant, before it becomes active again. People often find that they have recurring outbreaks four or five times in the first couple of years after getting infected with HSV. As time goes by, however, most people have fewer outbreaks and the outbreaks become much less severe.
There are two types of genital herpes: herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2. Both are extremely contagious. The virus is passed from person to person by physical contact . Even if someone with the virus has no symptoms, it is still possible for the virus to be passed on. This is known as asymptomatic shedding. Often people carry the virus for a while before an outbreak is triggered.
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How Do People Get Genital Herpes
People can get infected with genital herpes when the virus comes into contact with a break in the skin in or around the mouth or genital area. This can happen when:
- They receive oral sex from a partner who has oral herpes .
- They touch a herpes sore and then touch their own genitals.
- Their genitals touch the skin in the genital area of someone who is infected .
Genital herpes can spread even if there are no sores because the virus is still in the body. The virus can be in the skin near the genitals and infect another person during sexual contact.
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Is There A Cure For Genital Herpes
Treatment of genital herpes does not cure the disease. The virus usually lives in an infected person throughout their lifetime. Most people with genital herpes will have recurring outbreaks, sometimes 6-10 a year. Recurrences are likely to have less severe symptoms and sores usually last a shorter period of time.
How Is Herpes Simplex Treated
Some people have few to no herpes outbreaks and choose not to have treatment. But many people prefer to use medications that shorten outbreaks and reduce symptoms.
During an outbreak, you may use an antiviral ointment or cream to help lessen your symptoms and help them go away faster, but it only works if you start it soon after you start an outbreak. Many people with HSV-2 take daily oral medications to keep outbreaks at bay.
Your provider may prescribe a topical medication or oral medication such as:
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Education Is An Integral Part Of Herpes Treatment
If you have genital herpes, its important for you to get educated about herpes and have the opportunity to ask questions in a supportive environment.
Becoming informed will help you learn to cope with the illness. It will also help you prevent sexual transmission of the illness, or transmission to an infant during a pregnancy.
Herpes has a tremendous psychosocial overlay. But knowledge about it and understanding about how well it can be managed can reduce that, says Handsfield.
Your doctor may be able to provide you with all the information you need, or you may choose to seek counseling from a mental health professional or at a clinic that specializes in sexual health, such as Planned Parenthood.
If you have a regular sexual partner, that person should also have the chance to learn about herpes and ask any questions they may have about it.
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.
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Tea Tree Oil And Herpes
Tea tree is a very popular bush in China, India and Japan. The discovery of the drink that gets ready from its leaves is attributed to the emperor Shen Nung in China and to the monk Bodhidharma in India, founder of the Zen Buddhism. Tea tree contains mineral salts of sodium, potassium and nickel.
It also contains fluorine, tannins, caffeine, theophylline and theobromine. The essential oil extracted from leaves of tea tree has antibacterial, antiseptic and antiviral properties. It can be used to fight herpes, applying a fine layer on the skin twice a day.
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Side Effects And Follow
Side effects with these herpes drugs are considered mild, and health experts believe these drugs are safe in the long term. Acyclovir is the oldest of the three, and its safety has been documented in people taking suppressive therapy for several years.
People taking suppressive therapy should see their doctor at least once a year to decide if they should continue. You may find taking the pills every day to be inconvenient, the drugs may not work for you, or you may naturally have fewer outbreaks as time goes on. Your doctor can help you make treatment choices to suit your needs.
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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.
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How Is Herpes Treated
There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. The blisters usually heal and go by themselves, so you may not always need treatment. If treatment is needed, there are antiviral medicines which can help. These can shorten outbreaks, relieve discomfort and stop symptoms from getting worse.
The antiviral treatment is most effective when you take it within the first five days of symptoms appearing. Avoid touching the blisters as this can spread the infection. If treatment requires you to apply cream to a sore, gently pat the cream on, being careful not to rub around the surrounding area.
You can ease your symptoms by:
keeping the affected area clean using plain or salt water to prevent blisters or ulcers from becoming infected
applying petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to any blisters or ulcers to reduce pain when passing urine
asking a healthcare provider to recommend painkilling creams
avoiding tight clothing because it may irritate the blisters and ulcers.
Donât have sex until you or your partner have finished your treatment, and the blisters or ulcers have gone. Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes and over time they tend to occur less often.
How Does Genital Herpes Spread
Herpes can be spread when an infected person has lesions blisters and open sores on their body or when you do not have any symptoms. Taking antiviral medicine can help you reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to your sexual partners. You can also:
- Inform your sexual partner that you have genital herpes.
- Use a condom every time you have sex.
- Refrain from having sex when you have symptoms.
- Abstain from performing oral sex if you have blisters or open sores around your mouth.
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A Cure For Herpes There Is Progress To Report
It takes a persistent scientist to stop a persistent virus.
A decade ago, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center virologist Dr. Keith Jerome began exploring the idea that lifelong infections with herpes viruses might be cured by using the DNA-cutting tools of gene therapy.
Initial research showed these techniques could knock out small quantities of latent virus, and the work of improving the results fell to Jeromeâs senior staff scientist, Dr. Martine Aubert. Five years ago, the team reported they had damaged the genes of 2%-4% of herpes virus in infected mice. Aubertâs work was an important proof of principle, but far short of a cure.
Nevertheless, she persisted.
On Aug. 18, the team led by Jerome and Aubert published a paper in Nature Communications showing that, through a series of incremental improvements on their original method, they had destroyed up to 95% of herpes virus lurking in certain nerve clusters of mice.
âThis is the first time that anybody has been able to go in and actually eliminate most of herpes in a body,â said Jerome, who is also spearheading research at Fred Hutch and the University of Washington on COVID-19. âIt is a completely different approach to herpes therapy than anybodyâs ever had before.â
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Can Genital Herpes Cause Other Problems
For most women, genital herpes does not usually cause serious health problems.
Women with HIV can have severe herpes outbreaks that are long-lasting. Herpes also may play a role in the spread of HIV. Herpes sores can make it easier for HIV to get into your body. Also, herpes can make people who are HIV-positive more likely to spread the infection to someone else.
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How Is Genital Herpes Treated During Pregnancy
- Oral antiviral medications may be used during pregnancy.
- One serious concern with genital herpes in pregnancy is transmission of the infection to the baby during delivery. In an infant, genital herpes infection can spread through the bloodstream and have serious consequences.
- Cesarean delivery is performed for women who go into labor while there is an active outbreak of genital herpes in order to prevent infection of the baby during birth.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women with recurrent genital herpes be offered oral antiviral medication at or beyond 36 weeks until delivery in order to increase the chances of being able to deliver vaginally.
Testing For Genital Herpes
If you think you may have genital herpes you should make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.
If there are symptoms present such as blisters, sores and ulcers, your doctor or nurse may be able to make a diagnosis straight away.
If you have visible blisters, your doctor or nurse may take a swab for testing, to check if this is herpes and what type. This swab can also test for another STI which causes blisters called syphilis.
The genital herpes swab tests are very reliable, though if the ulcer is too dry then it may be less likely to find a positive result.
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Boosting Your Immune System
Another way to potentially speed up healing for herpes outbreaks and reduce the frequency of future outbreaks is to strengthen your bodys natural immunity. When your immune system is strong, it will be more capable of suppressing the virus.
Some of the recommended ways to boost your immunity include:
- Minimize stress.
- Eat a diet with lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get an adequate amount of sleep every night.
- Drink in moderation and avoid smoking.
The Early Warning Signs Of Genital Herpes
Once you learn to identify the early warning signs of a genital herpes outbreak, you can take action to avoid the worst outbreak symptoms.
The most common sign of genital herpes is the development of blisters around the genital area. Herpes simplex blisters are often itchy and painful.
Other symptoms may accompany the blisters to indicate early warning signs of genital herpes:
- -Difficult or painful urination
- -Wash your hands immediately after any possible contact with sores to prevent the spread of infection
- -Take medication as directed by your healthcare professional
- -Use natural treatments known to reduce discomfort and accelerate healing
- -Use foods and supplements known to strengthen your immune system
- -Use the Luminance RED on current outbreaks and in-between
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Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes
Theres no cure for the herpes virus yet. A herpes vaccine doesnt currently exist, as the herpes virus has more complicated DNA than most infections, creating challenges for researchers.
However, medication can help with symptoms, like sores, and outbreaks. Medication also lowers the risk of transmission to others. You can take most medications for herpes orally, though you may also apply some as a cream or receive them by injection.