How Long Do Sores From Herpes Simplex Last
If youre infected with HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes, you may notice tingling or burning around your mouth in the days before a cold sore appears. These blisters break open and ooze fluid before forming a crust. Usually, sores last for seven to 10 days.
If youre infected with HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes, your first outbreak may last between two to four weeks. Recurrent outbreaks usually last between three to seven days.
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.
How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Herpes Simplex
You can reduce your risk of contracting HSV-1 by avoiding physical contact with someone who has a cold sore. People can still spread HSV-1 when cold sores arent present, but its less likely.
If someone has an active HSV-1 infection, avoid:
- Sharing utensils, cups, lip balms or other personal care products.
- Touching the skin near their mouth.
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any prescribed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms during intercourse and 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. Condoms may not cover all sores, so you may still get the virus.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off active lesions.
Other Ways To Reduce Genital Herpes
Following are several ways that can reduce herpes transmission.
- Using condoms is one of the best ways to reduce the transmission rate. According to a 2016 study, over 900 couples and the findings suggest that condoms drastically reduced the transmission rate. The transmission rate from men to women went down by 96% and by 65% vice versa. Therefore, using condoms correctly can help reduce transmission.
- If your partner has an active sore on their genitals, it is advisable to refrain from sexual contact. However, if you want to proceed, go ahead with a condom.
How Does Herpes Simplex Spread
Herpes spreads through close contact with a person who has the infection. The virus can be found in skin and saliva. If you have herpes simplex, you are most likely to pass the virus to another person when you have sores. But you can infect someone else even if you have no symptoms. Healthcare providers call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
People may get HSV-1 through
- Touching a persons skin near the mouth.
- Sharing food utensils, lip balm or razors.
- If you receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, it may spread a herpes infection to your genitals.
People may get HSV-2 through
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
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How Much Time Does It Take For Valacyclovir To Work
Valacyclovir is not the complete cure for genital herpes. It is possible that while using Valacyclovir, you may experience shedding, and lesions may occur. While Valacyclovir can reduce the outbreaks, there is still a risk of transmission. If your partner is experiencing a herpes outbreak, you must avoid getting sexual. Moreover, asymptomatic shedding is difficult to detect, so you should use condoms consistently to minimize the risks.
Treatment For Oral Herpes
The antiviral medications available in pill form have been specifically developed for the treatment of genital herpes. However, it is not uncommon for healthcare providers to prescribe the antiviral drugs to those who have frequent or severe outbreaks of oral herpes.
A recent study found valacyclovir to be effective for treating oral herpes in a one-day treatment of 2 grams taken at the first sign of a cold sore, and then again about 12 hours later.
There are two topical antiviral medications prescribed for the treatment of oral HSV symptoms: acyclovir ointment and penciclovir cream. Both work to speed up the healing process and reduce the viral activity. These topical drugs are put directly on the lesions themselves, but can also be used at the onset of prodrome.
Other topical treatments for oral herpes are available over-the-counter , but are not antiviral compounds like acyclovir and penciclovir. Some also contain ingredients that numb the area and induce temporary relief from the discomfort of an outbreak. Unfortunately, some OTC treatments may actually delay the healing time of symptoms because they can further irritate the area with repeated applications. There is only one OTC FDA-approved cream, called Abreva®, which has been clinically proven to help speed the healing process.
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How Common Is Genital Herpes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 40 million to 50 million adults in the United States have genital herpes. HSV II infection is more common in women and in people who have had more than five sexual partners. Most people with HSV II do not know they have it, because it does not always cause symptoms.
How To Prevent Herpes
But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection like condoms and dental dams when you have sex helps to lower your risk of getting an STD.
Herpes can live on areas of your body that arent protected by condoms , so condoms wont always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.
Dont have sex with anyone during a herpes outbreak, because thats when it spreads most easily. But herpes can also spread when there are no sores or symptoms, so its important to use condoms and dental dams, even if everything looks and feels A-OK.
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Valacyclovir Lowers Herpes Transmission Rates
If you have herpes, youve probably taken valacyclovir before as part of an outbreak or initial infection treatment protocol. Valacyclovir is extremely helpful in the management of herpes. During an outbreak, it can speed up the rate of recovery and quickly remove herpes sores.
When it comes to preventing the transmission of herpes, valacyclovir can be helpful but shouldnt be relied on as a 100% effective solution.
Study data shows that people with symptomatic herpes who take valacyclovir are almost 50% less likely to transmit the virus to others than non-medicated people with herpes. In one study, the HSV-2 acquisition rate was reduced from 3.6% to 1.9% using valacyclovir treatment.
Other studies show a similar reduction in herpes transmission rates when the infected person used valacyclovir.
For example, in a 2004 study, researchers noticed that people with non-symptomatic genital herpes were 50% less likely to transfer the virus to their sexual partner. People with herpes symptoms had an even higher drop in transmission ratea reduction of 77 percent.
Its important to remember that this still means there are cases where herpes is transmitted between sexual partners, even when the infected person takes valacyclovir.
In short, while valacyclovir doesnt completely block genital herpes transmission through sex and genital contact, using valacyclovir does lower your risk of catching herpes from a sexual partner.
Screening For Hsv Infection
The CDC currently does not recommend routine screening for HSV-2 in the general population. This is due to several factors, such as the expense of testing, the risk of false-positives, and a lack of evidence of reduced spread of disease when asymptomatic patients are tested. Patients who should be screened for HSV-2 include those whose sexual partner has a known history of genital herpes and those who have multiple sexual partners.10 Tissue culture is the most specific and sensitive method for diagnosing the initial episode of genital herpes however, it is relatively insensitive when used during later stages of genital-ulcer healing or during recurrent infections. In those situations, viral culture is preferred. Although diagnosis can be confirmed only by laboratory testing, less stringent diagnostic criteria are frequently used in practice.1
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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.
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, it is very important for you to go to prenatal care visits. Tell your doctor if you have ever had symptoms of, or have been diagnosed with, genital herpes. Also tell your doctor if you have ever been exposed to genital herpes. There is some research that suggests that genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage, or could make it more likely for you to deliver your baby too early.
Herpes infection can be passed from you to your unborn child before birth but is more commonly passed to your infant during delivery. This can lead to a potentially deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting herpes during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, you may be offered anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes at the time of delivery. At the time of delivery, your doctor should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have herpes symptoms at delivery, a C-section is usually performed.
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Symptoms Of Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is most often caused by HSV-1, but can also be caused by HSV-2. It usually affects the lips and, in some primary attacks, the mucous membranes in the mouth. A herpes infection may occur on the cheeks or in the nose, but facial herpes is very uncommon.
Primary Oral Herpes Infection
If the primary oral infection causes symptoms, they can be very painful, particularly in children. Symptoms include:
- Tingling, burning, or itching around the mouth are the first signs.
- Red, fluid-filled blisters that may form on the lips, gums, mouth, and throat.
- Blisters that break open and leak. As they heal, they turn yellow and crusty, eventually turning into pink skin. The sores last 10 to 14 days and can be very uncomfortable.
- Blisters that may be preceded or accompanied by sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and painful swallowing.
Recurrent Oral Herpes Infection
A recurrent oral herpes infection is much milder than the primary outbreak. It usually manifests as a single sore, commonly called a cold sore or fever blister . The sore usually shows up on the outer edge of the lips and rarely affects the gums or throat.
How Far Away Is A Cure For Herpes
Theres currently no cure for herpes, but that might change in the future.
According to 2020 research published in Nature, scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center removed 90 percent of the HSV-1 virus from cells in mice using gene editing.
However, it takes time to transition potential treatments from animals to humans. In a 2020 news article, one of the researchers that authored the Nature paper estimated that it would be at least 3 years before human trials.
Scientists are also researching the possibility of creating a vaccine to prevent herpes. A 2022 study outlined a new approach to developing an mRNA vaccine for herpes. The vaccine mentioned in the study worked well in mice and guinea pigs.
The researchers say that theyre aiming to conduct human trials before the end of 2022, and the vaccine could be available within the next 10 years.
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What Are The Complications Of Herpes Infections
Complications caused by the herpes virus are mostly seen in patients having weak immune systems. Cancer is the most serious complication of herpes infection. It takes years to develop cancer after the herpes infection and is associated with only certain strains of herpes virus. It is important to get regular screening tests for cancer prevention .
Other complications of Herpes infections are-
- Rectal inflammation. This happens more often in males.
- Meningitis , in rare cases where the viral infection spreads to brain and spinal fluid.
- Urinary tract infections
How To Get Rid Of Herpes The Conventional Way
For most people with herpes, the virus typically represents nothing more than an inconvenience however, the real risk is for immuno-compromised patients who cant easily manage infections. In these patients, such as those with HIV/AIDS, herpes simplex infection is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
As of 2017, there is not currently a herpes vaccine available to prevent HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Doctors sometimes prescribe medications to help keep the herpes virus suppressed or to speed up healing of cold sores by reducing bacteria that can cause infections. Some medications that are now used to control herpes include:
- Nucleoside analogues and antiviral medications
- Creams/ointment to help lower pain and inflammation near the site of sores
- Over-the-counter painkillers to reduce aches, tenderness or fever
However, its important to understand that even with early detection and prescription medications, either form of the herpes virus cannot be totally cured so transmission is always still possible. Medications for viruses dont always work long term and are not a cure-all.
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Prevention And Management Of Genital Herpes
Cortney M. Mospan, PharmD, BCACPAssistant Professor of Pharmacy PracticeEast Tennessee State University
David Cluck, PharmD, BCPS, AAHIVPAssistant Professor of Pharmacy PracticeEast Tennessee State University
US Pharm. 2016 41:30-33.
ABSTRACT: Genital herpes continues to be a relevant public-health concern because of its prevalence and its association with an increased risk of acquiring other sexually transmitted diseases. Genital herpes may present as vesicular lesions that can rupture and become painful however, more than 80% of individuals are asymptomatic, which makes it difficult to contain the spread of disease. The treatment of genital herpes serves to shorten symptom duration and improve quality of life, but it does not cure the disease. Strategies to prevent transmission include chronic suppressive therapy in serodiscordant couples, safe-sex practices, and avoidance of sexual intercourse during outbreaks. Currently available therapies are well tolerated and highly effective, and some newer therapeutic options are being investigated.
Valacyclovir For Preventing Hsv
There are antiviral medicines that can prevent outbreaks. Using daily valacyclovir or Valacyclovir treatment can help to reduce asymptomatic shedding as well as outbreaks. In the study mentioned above, there were 743 of the 1484 couples who were instructed to take 500 mg Valacyclovir daily. Doctors also told them to use a condom for extra protection. Amongst these couples, only 14 were infected, and of those, four experienced outbreaks.
The study results were promising because taking 500 mg Valacyclovir daily can reduce the transmission of Genital Herpes. However, Valacyclovir can help reduce transmission of HSV-2, but it is not yet confirmed that Valacyclovir can be effective in treating genital sores due to HSV-1. HSV-1 is the herpes virus that causes cold sores around the mouth. HSV-2 most commonly causes genital herpes cases, but now there are increasing cases of genital herpes due to HSV-1. The reason for this cause is the growing social sexual change and high rate of oral sex.
The dosage of Valacyclovir is 500 mg for people who have fewer than nine outbreaks. However, doctors can adjust the dosage for those people who have more outbreaks and different organ problems.
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How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Herpes simplex virus doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with HSV-2 should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy as prescribed, to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes
Theres no cure for the herpes virus yet. A herpes vaccine doesnt currently exist, as the herpes virus has more complicated DNA than most infections, creating challenges for researchers.
However, medication can help with symptoms, like sores, and outbreaks. Medication also lowers the risk of transmission to others. You can take most medications for herpes orally, though you may also apply some as a cream or receive them by injection.
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