Recognizing The Signs: The Prodrome
Early in the phase of reactivation , many people experience an itching, tingling, or painful feeling in the area where their recurrent lesions will develop. This sort of warning symptomcalled a prodromeoften comes a day or two before lesions appear. To be on the safe side, its best to assume virus is active during these times.
Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.
What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?
For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing theyll 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 .
You May Like: Can Herpes Be Spread When Dormant
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.
When Should I See My Doctor
You may need to see a doctor if you have more severe symptoms or a weakened immune system if, for example, you have HIV or you are having cancer treatment.
Its also a good idea to see your doctor if:
- there are signs the cold sore is infected, such as redness around the sore, pus and a fever
- you arent sure you have a cold sore
- the cold sore isnt healing, it’s spreading or you have more than one cold sore
- your cold sore has spread to near your eyes
- you get cold sores often
Antibiotics may be needed if the cold sore gets infected.
Also Check: How Quickly Does Herpes Show Up
Complications Of Cold Sores
For most people, cold sores get better in time with over-the-counter treatments and self-care. However, for people with weakened immune systems, cold sores can be more severe and spread more widely.
Uncommon complications of cold sores include:
- bacterial infections where the cold sore is crusty and has pus
- cold sores that spread to the eyes see your doctor immediately since this can lead to eye damage
Are Canker Sores Caused By The Herpes Virus
Canker sores are not caused by the herpes virus or by any other virus. In fact, the cause of canker sores is unknown, although they may be triggered by a minor injury in your mouth from dental work or brushing too hard, an allergy, a vitamin B deficiency, stress, or a food intolerance. Some medical conditions, such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, may also cause canker sores, and they often occur in families, so it’s possible genetics or environment play a part, too.
Canker sores typically appear as small, round, or oval whitish sores with a red border, according to the Mayo Clinic. They typically occur on the tongue, inside the cheeks, inside the lips, or on the gums. The medical term for a canker sore is aphthous ulcer. Canker sores can be quite painful, but they usually heal within about two weeks without leaving any scarring.
Unlike cold sores, which usually occur outside the mouth, canker sores occur only inside the mouth. Like cold sores, canker sores are recurrent, but they are not contagious: You cant give a canker sore to another person. Canker sores occur more often in teenagers and young adults, and they are more common in women than men.
Recommended Reading: What Test Tests For Herpes
How To Prevent Herpes
Since herpes is commonly spread from sexual contact with an infected person, the most effective prevention method is abstinence.
However, many people engage in sex at some point in their lives. Therefore, having safe sex is essential. You can use protection, such as dental dams or condoms. Make sure you use protection even when you don’t have symptoms or sores.
Herpes is also found on body areas not protected by condoms like labia, butt cheeks, and upper thighs. Do not engage in sexual contact during an outbreak.
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.
Don’t Miss: What Is Herpes Simplex 1 Igg
Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
Herpes: 10 Signs To Look For
Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 or 2. The part of the body affected by the virus denotes the type of infection. Herpes has cyclical episodes, with dormancy following a period of active symptoms.The first episode is usually the most severe, and symptoms may take two to four weeks to heal. Signs of herpes may not develop immediately after an individual contracts the virus, but noting symptoms and seeking treatment is essential to ensure one does not spread the infection.
Read Also: Do Std Tests Test For Herpes
Herpes Simplex Eye Infection
The herpes simplex virus can, in some cases, spread to the eye, causing an eye infection. This will often occur when the virus reactivates itself after an initial infection, which may happen randomly or as, among other factors, a result of:
- Sensitivity to light
- Blurred vision.
The infection will usually affect only one eye, though it is possible for it to occur in both.
If any signs of herpes in the eye occur, it is important to seek the advice of a medical professional urgently. If left untreated, the following complications are possible:
- Scarring of the cornea
- Glaucoma, leading to optic nerve damage which may result in blindness
- Loss of vision, though this is rare.
Pimples Test Negative For All These Tests
What do I do now?
Once you successfully identify the nature of your sores, which should be an easy task now that you know what herpes looks like, the management is not that complex either. Since pimples are a hygiene issue, it only means a more thorough cleaning with effective products such as acne ointments, antibacterial soap and creams, oil ointments for inflammation, and patting with a warm, wet cloth a few times a day.
On the contrary, if you have even a little doubt that your sores may be herpes, you should visit your primary care physician and get an anti-viral prescription. Herpes may be incurable but anti-viral is more than enough to stop it from affecting your quality of life at all. Early identification is the key to a better life.
I am Jeannette, the medical writing specialist here at Family Medicine Austin. I have over five years of experience working with a range of medical and healthcare across the U.S.
Read Also: How To Get Rid Of Mouth Herpes
Most People Get Hsv1 As A Child
Oral HSV-1 is often the most easily acquired herpes infection. Usually the first herpes simplex virus that people encounter, oral HSV-1, is typically spread simply by the kind of social kiss that a relative gives a child. Because children have no prior infection with any HSV type, they have no immune defense against the virus.
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.
Also Check: How Many People Have Herpes In The Us
Find An Experienced Ob
As previously mentioned, most people living with herpes don’t realize that they have the virus. The virus is classified into two: herpes simplex virus type 2 and herpes simplex virus type 1. It is transmitted by sexual contact, contact with infected saliva, or mouth-to-mouth contact. While the symptoms come and go, these types of herpes are incurable and contagious. Also, the virus does not always show symptoms, so getting tested is essential. The qualified gynecologists at All Women’s Care in Los Angeles can test you and assist you in managing the virus. To learn more about herpes and how we can help you, call us today at .
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.
Read Also: How Do You Test For Herpes 1
Signs And Symptoms Of Hsv
HSV-1 commonly causes painful cold sores around or in the mouth.
Less commonly, they may appear elsewhere on the face, such as the chin, cheeks, or eyes.
HSV-1 can also be transmitted via sexual contact, and may be the cause of genital sores.
Additionally, other signs of an HSV-1 infection include:
- Tingling, itching, or numbness 1-3 days before sores appear
You can also have HSV-2 and be able to pass the infection even without active blisters.
Types Of Tests For Herpes
If you want to know for sure whether you are having a herpes outbreak, or you have no symptoms but you worry that you have been exposed to either oral or genital herpes, there are several testing options.
Herpes testing is not always included in routine STD screenings.
If you are concerned that you have herpes or that you may have had it in the past, ask your healthcare provider if testing is recommended for you.
Also Check: What Do Herpes Look Like When They First Start
Could I Get Genital Herpes
Anyone who is sexually active, including people who experience sexual violence, can get genital herpes.
Genital herpes can also be passed on:
- when a person with a herpes virus infection in their mouth or throat gives oral sex to another person
- when a person gives oral sex to a person who has a herpes virus infection on their genitals
- through sharing sex toys or during a hand job or fingering if infected fluids get onto the toy or hand
Can I Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes, you can breastfeed if you have genital herpes, but not if you have a herpes sore on one of your breasts. If you have genital herpes, it is possible to spread the infection to any part of your breast, including your nipple and areola.
If you have any genital herpes sores on one or both of your breasts:
- You can keep breastfeeding as long as your baby or pumping equipment does not touch a herpes sore.
- Do not breastfeed from the breast with sores. Herpes is spread through contact with sores and can be dangerous to a newborn baby.
- Pump or hand-express your milk from the breast with sores until the sores heal. Pumping will help keep up your milk supply and prevent your breast from getting overly full and painful. You can store your milk to give to your baby in a bottle for another feeding. But if parts of your pump also touch the sore while pumping, throw the milk away.
Read Also: What Topical Cream Is Good For Herpes
Recommended Reading: How Long Does Herpes First Outbreak Last
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes
As with many STDs, people with herpes type 2 may not know they have a genital infection because they donât have any noticeable symptoms. However, in a symptomatic infection, a person may experience the following signs:
- Itching, pain, or tenderness in the genital area
- Small red bumps or white blisters
- Sores or ulcers that occur when the blisters rupture and ooze or bleed
- Scabs that develop as the ulcers heal
If youâre experiencing symptoms like these, consider testing for herpes right awayâand speak with your healthcare provider.
During a first herpes outbreak, a person may notice flu-like symptomsâincluding fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes around the groin.
When you have recurrent genital herpes symptoms, the outbreaks tend to be less frequent and less severe after the initial infection. Before the sores reappear in a recurring outbreak, symptomatic patients may notice the following symptoms:
- Burning, itching, or tingling where they first had the sores
- Pain in the buttocks, legs, and/or lower back
How Can You Prevent Herpes
To reduce your risk of herpes, be sure you use protection whenever you have sex. If you or your partner is experiencing a herpes outbreak, talk with your healthcare provider about when you should resume sexual contact with each other.
If you have symptoms of HSV-2 or think you might have asymptomatic genital herpes, consider getting tested for herpes to know for sure.
The Everlywell at-home STD kit for men or women checks for 6 other common STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Our STD test gives you confidential, online results only a few days after the lab receives your sampleâmaking it a convenient testing option.
Recommended Reading: What Cream To Use For Herpes
Is One Type Of Herpes More Easily Spread Than Another
No, not really. Both HSV1 and HSV2 can be easily transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. HSV1 tends to prefer locations above the waist, such as the mouth, and HSV2 tends to prefer locations below the waist, such as the genitals, but both can also be easily spread to other parts of the body.
Both types are most contagious during active outbreaks when visual symptoms are present but they are also commonly spread when there are no recognizable symptoms through asymptomatic shedding.
What You Need To Know
- Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes.
- Oral herpes can be spread through intimate contact with someone who is infected.
- Oral herpes can be difficult to diagnose. Often confused with many other infections, it can only be confirmed with a virus culture called PCR, blood test or biopsy. PCR is the preferred test for diagnosing herpes infections.
- The best treatment for oral herpes is antiviral oral medication. Symptomatic treatment may include antiviral ointment, over-the-counter topical anesthetics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents.
Whether you call it a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.
Once infected, a person will have herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. When inactive, the virus lies dormant in a group of nerve cells. While some people never develop any symptoms from the virus, others will have periodic outbreaks of infections.
Recommended Reading: How To Quickly Get Rid Of Herpes