Herpes Causes And Risk Factors
Causes of herpes include acquiring the virus through sexual contact, coupled with immune system suppression and sometimes nutritional deficiencies.
HSV-1 is primarily transmitted by oral-oral contact. On the other hand, HSV-2 is considered a sexually transmitted disease and usually passed during oral or vaginal sex.
A scary finding is that more cases of genital herpes than ever before are now being caused by HSV-1 , and about 85 percent of people with genital herpes dont even know it. Studies show that about 50 percent of the new genital herpes infections in young adults are due to HSV-1 and about 40 percent in older adults. The fact that most people dont ever find out theyre infected is one of the reasons that transmission rates are steadily climbing.
Risk factors for acquiring herpes include:
- Kissing someone who has symptoms of an active herpes virus
- Engaging in any form of unprotected sex
- Having sex with multiple partners
- Spreading the virus through contact with cold sores on the eyes, secretions on the fingers, or ulcers/sores on buttocks and upper thighs
- Having certain other illnesses that lower immune function, such as HIV/AIDS, an autoimmune disorder or hepatitis
- Eating a poor diet that causes nutrient deficiencies and lowered immunity
- Smoking cigarettes, drinking high amounts of alcohol or abusing drugs
What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic
The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:
- ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
- use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing
The test cannot:
- be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
- tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from
Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus.
Who Gets Herpes Simplex
Most people get HSV-1 as an infant or child. This virus can be spread by skin-to-skin contact with an adult who carries the virus. An adult does not have to have sores to spread the virus.
A person usually gets HSV-2 through sexual contact. About 20% of sexually active adults in the United States carry HSV-2. Some people are more likely to get HSV-2. These people:
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What Are The Symptoms And Cycles Of A Herpes Outbreak
In most individuals who are infected with herpes simplex virus, first primary outbreak will occur between three to fourteen days after sexual exposure with an infected partner. Prodromal symptoms of mild tingling, itching and redness may precede the actual outbreak.
Other prodromal symptoms may also include:
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever, headaches, muscle aches and swollen lymph node glands
- Burning sensation or pain while urinating
- Vaginal or penile discharge
For some patients with herpes, the infection may not progress beyond the prodromal stage or the attack may be quite mild with just a few small red bumps.
For those who go on to develop active outbreaks, symptoms such as watery blisters or small fluid lesions will start to form.
Patients with infection of HSV-1 will have blisters, commonly known as cold sores in or around the mouth.
After the appearances of the blisters, they break down into painful ulcers which tend to ooze fluid. During this stage, the herpes virus is the most infectious.
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What To Think About
- Normal test results do not mean you do not have a herpes infection.
- Herpes is often diagnosed by symptoms and by knowing whether the person has had contact with an infected person. Sometimes a test is not needed. A person who has genital herpes needs to learn how to avoid spreading the disease, because the disease is more likely to be spread when he or she has sores. If you have recurrent outbreaks, especially during times of stress or illness, you can also spread the disease.
- You may want to know whether a herpes infection is due to HSV-1 or HSV-2 so you can take steps to prevent or treat outbreaks.
- A genital herpes infection can be spread from a mother to her baby during vaginal delivery. In a newborn, herpes can cause organ failure, brain infection, and death. If active herpes is present near the time of delivery, a caesarean delivery may be done to prevent infecting the baby.
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Is It Harder For A Woman To Give A Man Herpes
The general rate of transmission of a person who has had herpes to their regular partner is about 10 percent per year, but the annual rate rises if the infected partner is a male. Unfairly, the female partner has a 20 percent chance of becoming infected, while the male partnerâs risk is less than 10 percent.11 oct. 2005
Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body
The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.
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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.
Is There A Link Between Herpes And Hiv
Genital herpes is one of the most common co-infections for people with HIV. It can be a more serious condition if youâre HIV positive – outbreaks may last longer and blisters can be more severe. If youâre having recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes, you should have an HIV test, as this may be a sign of a weakened immune system caused by HIV.
Having an STI such as genital herpes can increase your risk of getting and passing on HIV. The blisters and sores provide an easy way for HIV to get into your body and cause an infection.
People with HIV who arenât on treatment or who have a lower CD4 count are more likely to get other infections, like herpes.
If youâre taking antiretroviral treatment for HIV, itâs important to discuss this with your doctor. They can advise how treatment for herpes may interact with your HIV drugs.
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Reduce The Chances Of Spreading Herpes
Ifyou know someone who has herpes, avoid coming in direct contact with them.Never share lipsticks, foods, drinks, or utensils. Never touch or kiss someonewith an open sore. Be sure to wash your hands frequently. Abstain from sexduring an active outbreak. Avoidoral sex and always remember to use condoms.
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What Is The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Genital Warts
Both genital herpes and genital warts are STIs, are spread through skin-to-skin contact, and are caused by a virus. But the viruses that cause genital herpes and genital warts are different:
- Herpes simplex virus is the virus that causes genital herpes.
- Human papillomavirus is the virus that causes genital warts.
There is no cure for either genital herpes or genital warts. But, different medicines can help manage the symptoms of herpes and treat the complications of HPV infections that can cause genital warts.
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Hiv And Genital Herpes
Having HIV puts a person at greater risk of contracting genital herpes, and having genital herpes puts a person at greater risk of contracting HIV.
Immunocompromised people often experience longer and more severe genital herpes outbreaks, and have increased herpes virus shedding . The open sores caused by herpes make transmission of both HIV and the herpes simplex virus more likely .
Itâs estimated that people with genital herpes are three times more likely to contract HIV when exposed .
Initial Outbreaks Of Hsv
If youve been infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2, youll usually go through an initial outbreak. Your first herpes outbreak is also referred to as the primary outbreak, which usually happens one to two weeks after your virus exposure, and tends to be the most severe physical experience from the virus.
Not everyone with HSV-1 or HSV-2 will have an initial outbreak. Some people are completely asymptomatic, which means they can be infected with the virus without experiencing any real herpes symptoms.
During a first herpes outbreak, most people experience the physical effects of herpes , plus additional flu-like symptoms, including fever, chills, sore throat and general body aches.
Herpes outbreaks usually start within several days of exposure. If youre worried that youre going through an initial outbreak of herpes, the best thing to do is check your symptoms and talk to your doctor about testing and treatment options.
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I Had Lesions When I Was Evaluated But My Culture Was Negative Does This Mean That I Dont Have Herpes
Not necessarily. Although lesions can be caused by something other than herpes, false negative herpes tests can occur if the samples are not taken appropriately, if there is a long transport time between the clinic and the laboratory, or if cultures were taken late in the course of the lesions. Lesions that occur early in the course of a herpes outbreak are much more likely to have positive cultures than cultures taken after the lesions crust over.
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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Sacral Herpes On The Back: Symptoms Treatment And Risks
Sacral Herpes is an HSV-2 infection, the same virus responsible for genital herpes, except that doesnt appear in the genital or groin area. It usually appears as herpes on the back or buttocks, and is sometimes misdiagnosed as shingles. However, it is still HSV-2 and considered to be a form of genital herpes.
How To Prevent Genital Herpes Outbreaks
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Last reviewed: 03 May 2022
Genital herpes is a common type of sexually transmitted infection. While there is no cure for genital herpes, there are steps you can take to prevent further outbreaks of the virus. Over time, your body will clear the virus on its own. You can take antiviral medication during an outbreak to treat the symptoms of genital herpes.
Know what triggers can cause a herpes outbreak and avoid them if you can.
Taking care of your body will always help in the long term to protect yourself against further outbreaks.
If you know your sexual partner has herpes, wait until their sores or blisters have healed completely before you have sex.
You can prevent the spread of herpes by using condoms when having sex.
If you have a new sexual partner, its best for both of you to get tested for genital herpes.
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus . There are 2 types of HSV, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both types of the virus can cause genital herpes. You can also get cold sores on your mouth from HSV-1.
You can get genital herpes from any direct skin to skin contact with the blisters. This includes kissing and sharing sex toys. This can also happen if you and your partners genitals come into contact but you do not have penetrative sex. Your partner does not need to have the symptoms of genital herpes to pass the virus on to you.
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How Often Does Shingles Return
Experts donât know exactly how many people get shingles more than once. They do know it comes back more often in people with weakened immune systems.
If your immune system is healthy:
- In the first several years, your chances of having shingles again are lower than it is for people who have never had shingles.
- Over time, your chances of a second bout go up. One study found that within 7 years, the odds of getting it again may be almost 5%. Thatâs about the same as the odds of getting shingles the first time.
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Why Do My Cold Sores Keep Coming Back
Once you have the HSV-1 virus, it remains in your body for life. Unlike other viruses, the body is unable to clear HSV-1. The virus is adept at hiding in nerve cells away from the immune system, and it can remain dormant for months, even years, before reactivating.
The blisters form sores that crust over and heal in a couple of weeks. Several factors can trigger an outbreak. The most common triggers include:
Learning your triggers is part of reducing the frequency of cold sore outbreaks.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Most women with genital herpes do not know they have it. But, if you get symptoms with the first outbreak of genital herpes, they can be severe. Genital herpes also can be severe and long-lasting in people whose immune systems do not work properly, such as women with HIV.
The first signs of genital herpes usually show up two to 12 days after having sexual contact with someone who has herpes. Symptoms can last from two to four weeks. There are other early symptoms of genital herpes:
- Feeling of pressure in the abdomen
- Flu-like symptoms, including fever
If you have any symptoms of genital herpes, see a doctor or nurse.
How Can I Confirm Whether I Have Genital Herpes
Herpes doesnt always cause symptoms, so your best bet is to make an appointment with a healthcare provider. They might be able to diagnose you just by looking at your symptoms.
They may also take a fluid sample from a blister and test it or have you do a blood test.
Youll likely be asked some questions about your sexual history. Its very important that youre honest in your answers. This will help to determine whether you should be tested for any other STIs while youre there.
Remember, theres no cure for herpes. But antiviral medication can help to prevent the virus from reproducing and reduce the number of outbreaks you have. This can also reduce your risk of passing the virus to others.
Common antiviral medications used for herpes include:
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Potential Complications Of Oral Herpes
For most people, herpes is more of an inconvenience than it is a serious medical condition. Mild scarring might be a concern following a particularly severe outbreak.
There are two instances in which herpes poses a more severe risk, but neither of these instances involves oral herpes. For example:
- Neonatal herpes is a risk for infants born to mothers with genital herpes. It can lead to neurological disability and is potentially fatal.
- Herpes simplex encephalitis occurs when herpes infects a persons central nervous system . Its treatable, but can be fatal if not treated properly.
Many people have herpes but are asymptomatic, meaning they dont even know they have it.
Can Oral Herpes Come Back?
Oral herpes sores can come back. The virus remains in your body forever once youve contracted it.
However, it can remain dormant for a certain period and then reactivate. When this occurs, a person is likely to develop mild symptoms, including sores.
Some people refer to this as herpes coming back, even though its better described as a flare-uporrecurrence.
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Do Condoms Help Prevent The Spread Of Genital Herpes
Yes. To prevent transmission of herpes, we recommend that condoms be used 100% of the time. Many patients will shed the virus and be contagious when they dont have symptoms. Studies have shown that asymptomatic shedding occurs between 1% and 3% of the time in patients with HSV II genital infections. Many new herpes infections occur from partners who are shedding the virus asymptomatically, so condoms are highly recommended.
Condoms may not be an attractive option for monogamous couples or for couples who desire to become pregnant. Couples may opt to have serological tests to determine if either partner has an asymptomatic infection. In close monogamous relationships, the risks of transmission can be weighed against other relationship issues, such as intimacy and pregnancy.
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