Genital Herpes Is Spread By Skin
The virus can be spread when someone with HSV has an episode or an outbreak characterised by having a sore, blister, ulcer or skin split . It can also be spread between episodes, when there is no sore, blister, ulcer or skin split present called asymptomatic viral shedding.
During viral shedding the virus is on the skin surface and can be spread through genital skin-to-skin contact, or from the mouth or face to genital skin during contact.
Is Genital Herpes Infection Related To Hiv
Herpes and HIV are caused by different viruses. But patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more vulnerable to HIV infection. People newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
Patients who are infected with both herpes and HIV also may have a higher concentration of HIV viruses in their body because of the interaction between the herpes virus and the HIV virus. When HIV damages a persons immune system, the person may be more likely to shed herpes simplex virus asymptomatically.
Myth #: Herpes Is A Really Big Deal
This one is my favorite, having watched a number of friends be traumatized by diagnoses, only to later realize that ultimately, herpes is not that big of a deal.
For starters, Dr. Dweck tells me that one-third of the sexually-active population has been exposed to herpes. Hawkins offers more specific, but equally staggering, numbers as well she says that one-half of the population has oral herpes and one-sixth of the population aged 14 to 49 has genital herpes.
Whats more, my OB/GYN points out that the virus is more so inconvenient than it is nefarious, meaning that while outbreaks, especially your first, can be painful, theyre not doing you any health harm overall. And if you do have significant recurrent outbreaks, theres a medication for that.
For all of these reasons, pros tend to agree that the outsized stigma around herpes is unwarranted and often, its the worst part of being infected. In reality, theres no reason herpes should make someone feel like a social pariah or that it should remain such a closeted, shameful condition.
The fact that so many people are living with this and having the same experiences but we dont talk about it, its really a shame because we could definitely support each other in ways were currently not doing, says Hawkins. Herpes is, of course, not something people would want, but its not as big of a deal as people make it out to be.
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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.
Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
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If Someone With Herpes Has No Sores Can It Still Be Passed On
If someone has herpes but no sores, can it still be passed on to another person? Spence*
Yes. Even when no sores are present, the herpes is still active in the body and can spread to others.
If you or your partner has herpes, reduce the risk of spread by:
- using a condom every time you have sex . The herpes virus can live outside of the area that a condom covers, though, so a condom may not always prevent the spread.
- avoiding sex during outbreaks
- making sure the infected person takes antiviral medicine every day as prescribed by the health care provider
- *Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no medication to cure your body of the herpes virus. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms, reducing the frequency of recurrences and reducing transmission.
Symptoms can be improved by:
- ice packs to the affected area
- pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol
- antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. These can reduce the severity of an episode if taken early enough . Topical antivirals usually used for cold sores on the lips or face are not suitable for use on the genitals.
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Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
Women with herpes before pregnancy can usually expect to have a healthy baby and a vaginal delivery.
If you have genital herpes during pregnancy, there’s a risk your baby could develop a serious illness called neonatal herpes.
This can be fatal, but most babies recover with antiviral treatment.
The risk of your baby getting neonatal herpes is low if you have had genital herpes before.
It’s higher if you get genital herpes for the first time in pregnancy.
How Do People Get Herpes
Herpes is transmitted through human-to-human contact, usually through kissing or sex. As long as there is skin contact, a person with herpes can infect another person, even when they are not exhibiting any symptoms.
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are notorious for lying dormant in nerve cells, where they can remain inactive for some time.
When the virus becomes active, it replicates and becomes transmittable through saliva and other body secretions. This process is called viral shedding. During this period, you may or may not experience symptoms.
Once a person becomes infected with the herpes simplex virus, the virus never leaves the body. As a result, the HSV infection may recur from time to time.
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How Soon Will I Get My First Outbreak
If youve come into contact with the virus but havent had an outbreak, theres no absolutely certain answer.
A newly infected person will typically have their first outbreak two weeks after contact. However, it can begin within hours of contact or even take a couple of years.
In as many as half of people having primary outbreaks, there are no clinically evident symptoms. In the rest, the symptoms may appear anytime between a few hours to weeks after contact. However, in most, the symptoms start during the first 24 hours of contact.
How Do I Talk With People About Having Herpes
It might feel scary to admit you have herpes, but talking about things can really ease your mind. You could lean on a close, non-judgmental friend that you trust to keep the conversation private. Parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and other family members can also be a source of comfort. Remember, herpes is really common, so its possible the person youre talking to has herpes, too.
There are a lot of online support groups for people who have herpes, and the American Sexual Health Association has a list of support groups that meet in person.
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Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes
Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.
Recurrences may be triggered by:
- no apparent reason noted.
How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any needed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms, including dental dams during oral sex.
- Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.
If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:
- Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off.
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Can Genital Herpes Be Cured Naturally
This question is quite frequent and there is a lot of discussion as to whether or not a purely natural treatment can eliminate the virus from the body once and for all.
Natural or alternative medicine includes treatments based on home remedies, acupuncture, ozone therapy and the use of natural ointments.
Several herbs and essential oils with antiviral properties are known to help fight the herpes simplex virus, but they do not completely eliminate it from our body.
One of the most commonly used natural ointments to treat genital herpes is Tea Tree Ointment, which is obtained by processing the oil extract from this tree which has well-known antibiotic and antiviral properties. The ointment does not eliminate the virus and its cost is about 40 USD.
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Send The Message Before You Have Sex
The conversation needs to happen before having sex and hopefully not in the heat of the moment. Alexandra Harbushka, founder of Life With Herpes and spokesperson for Meet People With Herpes, says a great way to lead with the topic is talking about both parties sexual health, and insisting that you both get tested.
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A Holistic Approach To Prevention And Treatment
While herpes normally isnt a life-threatening illness, itis pervasive, persistent, painful and often embarrassing to theapproximately 60 to 90 percent of the U.S. population who have it. SinceAIDS surfaced more than 15 years ago, herpes another oftensexually-transmitted disease has received little media attention andresearch dollars. Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine warned that herpes lesions increase a persons risk ofcontracting the AIDS virus. In addition, the Centers for Disease Controlhave reported that about 1 in 5 Americans age 12 years and older hasherpes, most of whom dont know they are infected. Since the late 1970s,the incidence of genital herpes has risen 30 percent.
To compound theproblem, what conventional medical care offers people with herpes issurprisingly little. Current prescription medicines can be expensive,ineffective for certain individuals, and carry potentially serious sideeffects. The fact is, natural remedies offer many more options toeffectively relieve the discomfort and to prevent future herpes outbreaks.CONTROLLING HERPES NATURALLY: A Holistic Approach to Prevention andTreatment is a supportive, easy-to-use guide to help people withherpes take control of their health. It offers them the tools to liberatethemselves from the cruelty of facial and genital herpes.
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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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Myth: Cold Sores And Genital Sores Are Way Different
Many people wrongfully believe that cold sores dont count as real herpes, Raquel Dardik, MD, clinical associate professor at NYU Langones Joan H. Tisch Center for Womens Health, explains to Health. This misconception stems from the general patterns of the two types.
For most people, HSV-1 tends to affect their mouth, while HSV-2 usually manifests on the genitals. But either virus can affect either body region all it takes to spread is skin-to-skin-contact.
Lets say you touch an infected persons genitals with your mouth while theyre shedding the virus, but theres no genital-to-genital touching. You can then be infected with either HSV-1 or HSV-2 and go on to develop lesions at the site of the infection .
What Are The Symptoms
If you think you might have contracted an STI , see your doctor. JustHerpes.com cannot provide diagnosis and you shouldnt attempt to diagnose yourself. You can also get tested by ordering an STD test online and then having it done confidentially near you.
Generally speaking, here is what you might expect during your first outbreak:
Symptoms during the first 24 hours
During this interval, you might remain symptom-free. However, you might experience symptoms like a strange tingling, pain, itching, and swelling of the affected area.
- A first herpes outbreak is considered to be the most severe.
- It can be accompanied by fever, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and a tingling sensation or pain in the affected area.
Symptoms lasting hours to days
During this stage, you might have prodromal symptoms the ones that means an outbreak is coming. Those might include:
- General aches and pains
- A general feeling of being unwell
- Swelling of lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are small pea-sized structures that are present in your groin, axilla, and areas of the neck. During your first herpes outbreak, you might experience swelling of lymph nodes in your groin area.
Symptoms lasting days to weeks
Once youre through the initial stages of infection, you might then start to see blisters characteristic of HSV. The blisters have an inflamed and red base. They last several days, crust, and heal without leaving scars.
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What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
Antiviral Tablets To Stop The Herpes Virus Multiplying
Antiviral medicines taken by mouth, such as valaciclovir or acyclovir, are the most effective in controlling symptoms, although they cant cure genital herpes. They stop the virus from multiplying in body cells where the virus is present. The medicine only works while you are taking it. The infection can come back when you stop taking it.
Antiviral tablets are used in the following two ways:
- To treat outbreaks as they happen : The aim is to shorten the time each outbreak lasts and to relieve symptoms. This works best when taken as soon as you get symptoms and before the blisters appear.
- To prevent or reduce recurrences : If you get frequent or severe recurrent outbreaks, your doctor may recommend you take antiviral tablets every day to help prevent recurrences. Suppressive therapy is taken continuously, every day, for months or years. Suppressive antiviral therapy may help reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.
Antiviral creams bought over the counter from the pharmacy are not recommended as a treatment for a first episode or recurrent genital herpes as they are of little benefit. Antiviral tablets are the preferred treatment.
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Learn To Recognize Warning Signs
Once you start experiencing symptoms you can transmit the virus, so paying attention to early symptoms can help reduce the risk of transmitting it to a partner.
Along with that sort-of-itchy, sort-of-painful tingling feeling that I get before the sores appear, I notice tenderness in my mouth, fatigue, a low fever, and aches in my legs.
You might only get these symptoms with the first outbreak, but they can return. Returning symptoms are usually more mild than before.
How Can I Reduce The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
If you think you have genital herpes because you have one or more of the symptoms or have been sexually intimate with someone who has, you should have a sexual health check-up and get treated as soon as you can. However, there is more that you can do to reduce the symptoms of an outbreak.
If you are experiencing a genital herpes outbreak, you may want to:
- Use an ice pack wrapped in a towel or flannel to soothe pain
- Pour water over your genitals or use painkilling cream/petroleum jelly to reduce pain while you urinate
- Use regular water or salt water to keep blisters clean and not infected
- Keep your hands clean whenever you touch your genitals
You should not:
- Touch blisters or sores unless putting cream or jelly onto them
- Have sex of any kind
- Wear tight clothing that may irritate sores or blisters
- Put ice directly onto your skin
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