What Triggers Oral Herpes
Many situations can reactivate the virus and make cold sores appear. Here are some of the most common triggers, which vary from person to person:
- Physical trauma, such as dental work or surgery.
- Mental stress .
- Menstruation or other hormonal changes.
- Raised body temperature .
- Dry or cracked lips .
- Exposure to sun .
Preventing cold sores starts with identifying your triggers and avoiding them whenever possible.
What Can I Do To Prevent Genital Herpes Infection
To try to reduce the chance of getting genital herpes, its important that you use condoms for any sexual contact including oral sex. You should also avoid any contact with infected blisters or ulcers that contain the virus. This should include not touching infected genitals with your hand.
You should avoid sharing sex-toys too, and wash your hands thoroughly if youve touched any blisters. The virus is most contagious when an outbreak is visible.
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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
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Can Antivirals Reduce Herpes Risk
Genital herpes is treated with antiviral drugs that quickly block the replication of the virus and bring the infection under control. Three are approved for the treatment of genital herpes:
The drugs can be used “on-demand” for episodic outbreaks.
If you have frequent outbreaks, they can be taken in low doses on a daily basis as a form of suppressive therapy to lower the risk of recurrence.
At one time, suppressive therapy was thought to reduce the risk of HSV transmission given that it keeps the viral load low. This, in turn, was thought to reduce the risk of asymptomatic shedding.
As reasonable as these assumptions seem, the theory has yet to be proven. According to a 2012 study in the Lancet, even with fully suppressive therapy, a person can still experience short episodes of asymptomatic shedding during which transmission can occur.
While suppressive therapy may reduce the risk of HSV transmission, it doesn’t erase it.
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.
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Recognize The Early Symptoms
You might not be able to stop an outbreak, but you might be able to reduce the severity and length of it. Many people have warning signs of an outbreak, including itching, tingling, genital pain, or shooting pain in the legs, hips, or buttocks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . These signs can occur hours or days before the outbreak, so knowing them gives you the chance to treat the outbreak before it happens.
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What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
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How To Prevent Herpes Infection Spread
Since there is no specific cure for Herpes Infection, it is better to prevent contracting the virus or prevent the spread of the infection to another person if you get it.
The steps to follow to prevent the spread of herpes infection-
- People who are diagnosed with herpes infection must avoid any physical contact with other people.
- Do Not share objects like utensils, toothbrushes, towels, clothes, cosmetics, lip balm, etc as these items can easily carry and pass the herpes virus from infected to a healthy person.
- One must avoid any form of sexual activity with the partner if diagnosed with or have symptoms of herpes infections, till the doctor advises.
- Patients undergoing the treatment must follow proper hygiene guidelines, must wash hands regularly, apply any ointments or medicines to the sores using clean cotton swabs only.
- Pregnant women diagnosed with herpes infection can prevent spreading the infection to the unborn child by strictly taking the prescribed medications.
The steps to follow to prevent getting herpes infections-
- Get regular tests done for any Sexually Transmitted Diseases .
- HPV vaccines can be taken to prevent getting certain strains of the herpes virus that can cause cancer.
- Follow safe sexual practices- using condoms, using dental dams or condoms for oral sex, alert the sexual partner if you develop any symptoms of the herpes infection, etc.
- Follow good hygiene practices
Can Women Who Have Sex With Women Get Genital Herpes
Yes. It is possible to get genital herpes, or any other STI, if you are a woman who has sex only with women.
Talk to your partner about her sexual history before having sex, and ask your doctor or nurse about getting tested if you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes. Use a dental dam during oral sex and avoid sexual activity during an outbreak.
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What Triggers Facial Herpes
The factors which can trigger herpes outbreaks differ from person to person. Menstruation, trauma, fever, exposure to sunlight, extreme weather conditions or anything that lowers the immune system, such as a cold, flu or general illness, can cause a reappearance of cold sores in some people. In others, there is no definite cause.
Herpes Drugs Don’t Stop Herpes Shedding
Got Genital Herpes? You’re Still Infectious, Even if Drugs Cut Symptoms
Even when they don’t have an active herpes outbreak, people who carry genital herpes viruses are at risk of infecting their sex partners. With the discovery of drugs that prevent herpes outbreaks, there was hope that the drugs would also prevent herpes transmission. But there’s been troubling evidence that this may not be true.
Now University of Washington researcher Christine Johnston, MD, and colleagues show that people with no herpes symptoms often shed infectious genital herpes virus — even while taking very high doses of anti-herpes drugs.
“Short episodes of genital shedding occur frequently with antiviral therapy, even for high-dose regimens,” Johnston and colleagues report. “These breakthrough episodes are typically , last several hours, and occur at much the same rate irrespective of antiviral dose.”
One in 5 Americans and Europeans carries HSV-2, the virus that causes most cases of genital herpes HSV-1 causes some cases. Most people have few, if any, of genital herpes’ painful symptoms: blisters on or around the genitals or rectum.
There’s no cure for herpes infections. That’s because herpes viruses travel up nerves to take up latent form in the nerve root. Powerful anti-herpes drugs — acyclovir , famciclovir , and valacyclovir — prevent most outbreaks in most people. But they don’t eliminate virus hiding in nerve cells.
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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.
Preventing The Spread Of Herpes
Even when you do not have sores, you can pass the virus to someone during sexual or other close contact. To protect others:
- Let any sexual partner know that you have herpes before having sex. Allow them to decide what to do.
- Use latex or polyurethane condoms, and avoid sex during symptomatic outbreaks.
- Do not kiss or have oral sex when you have a sore on the lips or inside the mouth.
- Do not share your towels, toothbrush, or lipstick. Make sure dishes and utensils you use are washed well with detergent before others use them.
- Wash your hands well with soap and water after touching a sore.
- Consider using daily antiviral medicine to limit viral shedding and reduce the risk of passing the virus to your partner.
- You may also want to consider getting your partner tested even if they have never had an outbreak. If you both have the herpes virus, there is no risk for transmission.
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What Should I Do If I Have Genital Herpes
If you have genital herpes:
- See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible for testing and treatment.
- Take all of the medicine. Even if symptoms go away, you need to finish all of the antiviral medicine.
- Tell your sex partner so they can be tested and treated if necessary.
- Avoid any sexual contact while you are being treated for genital herpes or while you have an outbreak.
- Remember that genital herpes is a lifelong disease. Even though you may not have a genital herpes outbreak for long periods of time, you can still pass the virus to another person at any time. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to prevent passing the virus to another person.
How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other skin conditions like a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people do not know they have a herpes infection.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. This is known as having an outbreak. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Flu-like symptoms also may occur during the first outbreak.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they have HSV-2. However, repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although genital herpes is a lifelong infection, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
Ask a healthcare provider to examine you if:
- You notice any symptoms or
- Your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.
STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods .
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What Is The Chance Of Spreading Herpes To My Partner
It varies whether you are a man or a woman. In either case, the risk of spreading herpes to a partner is very, very small if you abstain from contact with the affected area during outbreaks.
For a woman with HSV-2 genital herpes, the chance of spreading the virus to a man if they abstain from having sex during outbreaks is approximately 4% in a year. For a man with HSV-2 genital herpes, the chance of passing the virus onto a female partner if they abstain from sex during outbreaks is close to 10% in a year. Read mor facts about whats your risk of spreading herpes?.
Why You Should Go To A Sexual Health Clinic
You can see a GP, but they’ll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you might have genital herpes.
Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.
Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.
They’ll often get test results quicker than GP practices and you do not have to pay a prescription fee for treatment.
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How Can I Make Sure I Dont Give Anyone Herpes
If you find out that you have herpes, try not to freak out. There are a few ways that you can stop it from spreading to your partners and other parts of your body.
Talk with your doctor about taking herpes medication every day, which can lower your chances of spreading herpes.
Dont have sex during a herpes outbreak, even with a condom. There may be sores on places the condom doesnt cover.
Learn how to tell when an outbreak is coming, and stop having sex right when you notice these signs. You may feel a burning, itching, or tingling feeling that lets you know youre about to get sores.
Dont have sex until your sores are totally gone, and the scabs heal and fall off.
Dont touch your herpes sores, because you can spread the infection to other parts of your body or other people. If you touch a sore, wash your hands with soap and water right after.
Dont wet contact lenses with spit this might spread your oral herpes to your eye.
If you have a cold sore on your mouth, don’t kiss anyone especially babies, children, or pregnant women.
Always tell your sexual partners that you have herpes before you have sex, so you can work together to prevent it from spreading. Telling someone you have an STD can be hard, but herpes is super common and doesnt lead to serious health problems. So try not to be too embarrassed or stressed out about it.
Avoid Sex During Outbreaks
Although its unlikely that youre going to want to be intimate during an outbreak, its important to know that this is the time when the virus is most active and most likely to be transmissible, Wait until all your symptoms go away, including any sores, itching, and tingling.
If you have thrush or small abrasions from sexual intercourse, often due to insufficient lubrication. It can be helpful to use a lubricant specifically for sexual intercourse and avoid sex if you have thrush. Sexual lubrication is helpful right at the start of sexual activity.
Sores in other areas, such as the buttocks and thighs, can be just as contagious as those in the genital area, and care should be taken to avoid direct contact with such sores during sex.
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How Do You Get Herpes
The virus can be passed on by:
having any skin-to-skin contact with the infected area
transferring the infection on fingers from someone else to your genitals
sharing sex toys that aren’t washed or covered with a new condom each time they are used.
The virus is most infectious when you have blisters, but it can be passed on when someone has no symptoms. This is normally immediately before or after an outbreak.
If you have genital herpes while pregnant you can pass the virus on to your unborn baby. Itâs important to speak to your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
For more details on herpes in pregnancy read our âin detailâ tab.