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.
Herpes Symptoms And Signs
In order to diagnose herpes, a health care provider can swab an area of visibly active herpes infection or, if symptoms arent active, a blood test can be given that measures the number of herpes antibodies present in the body. The antibodies dont indicate herpes itself, but rather show the immune systems response to the presence of the virus in the body. Its important to note that sometimes a swab can give false negative results since herpes lesions need to be large enough to yield enough detectable virus and if the outbreak is already healing it also may not be detected in a swab.
The most common herpes symptoms include:
- Developing either a single cold sore or cluster of multiple cold sores that form on the lips, inside the mouth, or on the genitals, buttocks and upper thighs.
- Sores can sometimes be severe, painful and rupture and cause fluid to be secreted out.
- Some herpes canker sores develop a thin, white coating and burn when touched while they healing.
- Around herpes cold sores, its common to feel pain, tenderness and other symptoms of a rash, such as redness or signs of swelling.
- Some people are able to tell before an outbreak if one is going to occur because they feel tingling, itchy sensations near the affected area.
- Some people develop other symptoms during herpes outbreaks that are similar to those caused by a cold or the flu. This may include fatigue, irritability, aches or a slight fever.
The Herpes Simplex Virus
There are two types of herpes simplex virus , type 1 and type 2. Both types are highly contagious and can be passed easily from one person to another by direct contact. Genital herpes is usually transmitted by having sex with an infected person. Even if someone with genital herpes does not have any symptoms, it is possible for them to pass the condition on to a sexual partner.
At least 8 out of 10 people who carry the virus are unaware they have been infected because there are often few or no initial symptoms. However, certain triggers can activate the virus, causing an outbreak of genital herpes.
Read more about the causes of genital herpes.
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Are Fever Blisters Contagious
Fever blisters are highly contagious and can be spread easily. The HSV-1 virus is most contagious when you are showing symptoms of a cold sore from first experiencing the tingling, itching or burning sensation that suggests a fever blister is coming right through the period when the blister is visible and hasnt completely healed.iii
To avoid passing the virus to others, you should stick to a strict hygiene regime and avoid kissing and sharing objects such as eating utensils and cosmeticsiv. And, if you do feel the tingle, make sure you have a tube of Abreva® Cream with you, so you can slow the virus and possibly prevent a full fever blister or cold sore from developing.
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Episodic Therapy For Recurrences
For a recurrent episode, treatment takes 1 to 5 days, depending on the type of medication and dosage. You should begin the medication as soon as you notice any signs or symptoms of herpes, preferably during the prodrome stage that precedes the outbreak of lesions.
In order for episodic therapy to be effective, it must be taken no later than 1 day after a lesion appears. If taken during prodrome, episodic therapy may help prevent an outbreak from occurring or reduce its severity. If taken at the first sign of a lesion, it can help speed healing.
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When To See A Dermatologist
Some people need help to clear cold sores. You should see your primary care doctor or dermatologist if you:
- Have a weakened immune system because you take a medicine that suppresses your immune system or have a disease that weakens your immune system
- Have a cold sore close to one eyes
- Get cold sores several times a year
- Still have cold sores after 15 days
Treatment can help you feel better and prevent complications. You can find out how dermatologists diagnose and treat cold sores at Cold sores: Diagnosis, treatment, and outcome.
ReferenceFatahzadeh M and Schwartz RA. Human herpes simplex virus infections: Epidemiology, pathogenesis, symptomatology, diagnosis, and management.J Am Acad Dermatol. 2007 57:737-63.
Counselling For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out that you have genital herpes, it is likely you will have a lot of questions. A diagnosis of genital herpes often comes as a shock.
For many people who have genital herpes, the physical symptoms are outweighed by the emotional stress relating to the diagnosis. There are many misconceptions about genital herpes, including the belief that it is associated with promiscuity.
Seeing a counsellor may be a good idea to discuss any concerns you may have. Counselling offers a way of dealing with your concerns.For more information see the NZ Herpes Foundation or talk with one of their trained counsellors on 0508 11 12 13 free call 0508 11 12 13 or 09 433 6526 .
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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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Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
General symptoms for anyone include the following:
General symptoms for a baby born with herpes may include
- ulcers on the face, body, and genitals.
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What Are The Complications
Complications are rare, but some people especially those with weakened immune systems, such as people with HIV, may have trouble fighting the virus and get a secondary infection in the eye, fingers, joints, throat, colon, liver, lungs or brain.
If you are pregnant, and you or your partner have a history of herpes, it is important to inform your health care provider. There are steps that can be taken to help prevent the virus being passed to the baby. This is most likely to happen if the mother has a primary first outbreak in the third trimester. Herpes can cause serious complications for the baby, including death. Women who have genital herpes before they become pregnant are at very low risk of passing it to their infant.
How Do You Know For Sure
If the nature, location, and other characteristics of your sores are not enough for you to draw a confident conclusion, medical testing is the only way to have a definitive answer. This can mean any one of the following tests:
- Laboratory testing : A swab of the fluid sample from the blister is obtained within 48 hours of the appearance of the first symptoms to test for the viral culture.
- Blood Test : Conducted a couple of weeks after the initial symptoms, this searches for any antibodies produced against HSV-1 or HSV-2.
- Polymerase Chain Reaction : The most expensive of all, it looks for HSVs genetic material
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What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Men
In about two-thirds of cases, men will have no symptoms of herpes. Symptoms of herpes in men may include:
It is unclear if genital herpes affects fertility in men because it affects such a large part of the population. However, a recent study found that herpes may lower the sperm count in men and may have an effect on mens ability to get pregnant with a partner.
Can Hiv Be Transmitted Through Kissing
- During outbreaks, inflammation and pain also occur in your body. To relieve these sensations, pain medications must be ingested. Other than oral medications, such as Advil, topical creams are also available to alleviate the intense pain caused by the outbreaks. Simply apply the creams or ointments and feel the alleviating power of these medications.
Aside from the availability of these treatment options, you can also perform simple medical remedies at home. In doing so, you will know how to manage the infection and how to better control it by following these tips below:
- Always take a shower when outbreaks occur.
- Keep your hands clean by always washing them with clear water.
- When irritation occurs in any part of your body, it is advisable to soak it with warm water.
- When blisters appear, it is also advisable to apply a cold compress to the infected area.
- Use condoms when having sex.
These home remedies are as important as taking your daily dose of medicine. However, when everything has worsened, it is time to contact your healthcare professional and receive the necessary medical care. Talk with your doctor on how to better treat and manage your condition.
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What Are The Different Types Of Herpes
There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV I and HSV II. HSV I commonly causes oral herpes, or cold sores. This virus can show up as an upper respiratory tract infection during early childhood. HSV II is the cause of most cases of genital herpes. However, it is possible for HSV I to cause genital herpes and HSV II to cause oral herpes.
Clinicians cannot tell the difference between the two types by physical examination alone, but there are differences between the two viruses. For example, genital herpes caused by HSV II is much more likely to recur. This diagnosis can be helpful in establishing a health care plan.
Treatment Of An Initial Outbreak
The first outbreak of genital herpes is usually much worse than recurrent outbreaks. Symptoms tend to be more severe and to last longer. Your provider will prescribe one of the three antiviral medications, which you will take for 7 to 10 days. If your symptoms persist, treatment may be extended. An acyclovir ointment may also be prescribed for topical treatment of initial genital herpes.
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What Is The Treatment Of Genital Herpes
To treat genital herpes your doctor may prescribe some anti-viral drugs. These drugs can reduce the duration and frequency of herpes outbreaks. They can also help reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to a susceptible partner. The treatment plan will depend on your general health condition. If other health complications such as, encephalitis or AIDS develop due to the genital herpes infection, the doctor will prepare a treatment plan for you accordingly.
It is necessary to describe your medical history and symptoms in detail to your doctor, so that he can perform the appropriate tests for the diagnosis.
How Do I Know If I Have Herpes
If a person has an active herpes outbreak with visible sores, a physician or specialist such as a dermatologist can make a diagnosis based on a physical examination. If the physical symptoms alone are not enough, a doctor may take a swab of the sore and send it to a lab for analysis.
If a person does not have physical sores but is concerned, blood tests are available.
People can also take at-home herpes tests, though they should seek a consultation with a doctor to confirm a diagnosis and seek treatment.
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What Do I Do If I Have Genital Herpes
Some people have a lot of fears and misconceptions about herpes, but its a common STD. It can be painful and uncomfortable during outbreaks, but its not deadly and it doesnt cause serious health problems. So if you have genital herpes, try not to panic or feel too bad about it. Millions of people are living with herpes, so youre not alone. And even though theres no cure for herpes, there are plenty of ways to treat the symptoms and manage the infection. Your doctor will tell you about the best treatment options for your situation.
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Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus , which causes chickenpox earlier in life. The natural history of varicella zoster infection is similar to genital herpes infection in that VZV also becomes latent in the sensory nerve roots. Later in life the virus may exit, causing shingles.
Recurrences in shingles cause blister lesions in a single area of skin called a dermatome. Shingles is not a sexually transmitted infection and is independent from genital herpes.
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How Is Genital Herpes Spread
Genital herpes is usually transmitted by having sexual contact with someone who carries HSV. You can get genital herpes through direct contact with an infected blister or sore, usually through sexual contact. You can also transmit or get the virus when you or your partner have no symptoms present .
Most people who infect others dont realise they are putting their partners at risk.
- Around 80% of people with genital herpes dont know they have the virus because they have very mild symptoms or none at all.
- More than 75% of people who have genital herpes get it from people who are entirely unaware that they have it themselves.
Using condoms reduces your risk of passing on the virus by about 50%, but does not remove it completely.
You cannot catch genital herpes by sharing cups, towels or bath water, or from toilet seats. It can only be spread by close skin-to-skin contact.
HSV that causes genital herpes does not cause cervical cancer.
Should I Take Antiviral Pills For My Herpes
Reasons for choosing short course/episodic treatment:
Reasons for choosing suppression/prophylactic/long-term treatment:
See section above for the dosing.
Advertisement:There are now UK-based websites, such as MedExpress, which are authorised by the Care Quality Commission to sell aciclovir for treating genital herpes to diagnosed patients.
Beware: Many other websites advertise fake treatments or even cures. They may include testimonials and statements by people who claim to be doctors. They are scams. Do not be fooled.
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Where Do Symptoms Appear
When a person has genital herpes, the virus lies dormant in the bundle of nerves at the base of the spine. When the virus reactivates , it travels nerve paths to the surface of the skin, sometimes causing an outbreak.
Genital herpes, regardless of whether it is HSV-1 or HSV-2, does not cause symptoms on the mouth or face. For more on oral-facial herpes, see the oral herpes page.
What Causes A Genital Herpes Outbreak
Once you identify the physical sensation associated with the Prodrome state, many individuals can predict the type of life situation that triggers an outbreak for them in the first place. The following situations are often associated with an outbreak:
Situations associated with an outbreak:
- Heavy sunlight exposure
- Menstrual periods
“1 in 8 US adults have HSV-2, but HSV-2 testing is not part of a standard STI screening.”
If you are sexually active and receive regular STI screenings, it is still possible that you carry the HSV-2 virus. In the US Genital Herpes testing is not part of a normal STI screening.
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Herpes On Buttocks / Does Herpes Itch
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