How Does Herpes Spread
It also helps to know a little about how HSV works when you talk to a partner about the infection. Getting the details from your doctor first may be helpful, says Dr. Baldwin, because theres no doubt that HSV can be confusing. For starters, there are two types of the virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2.
HSV-1 typically causes oral herpes, known for those trademark cold sores, while HSV-2 is usually to blame for genital herpes sores. However, over the past few decades there has been an increase in HSV-1which usually causes oral symptomscausing genital herpes, explains Dr. Baldwin. Genital herpes that come from HSV-1 are typically passed through oral sexa good reason to divulge that you have oral herpes, if you do.
Both types of herpes can be passed on when there are active sores and, less frequently, even when there are no symptoms. Some important information to share would be whether or not you have frequent outbreaks, which is the highest risk time for transmission, says Dr. Baldwin. Lay off the sexual activity during an outbreak, as well as whenever you have the pain or tingling that signal an outbreak is coming, she says.
Can Genital Herpes Come Back
Yes. Genital herpes symptoms can come and go, but the virus stays inside your body even after all signs of the infection have gone away. The virus becomes active from time to time, leading to an outbreak. Some people have outbreaks only once or twice. Other people may have four or five outbreaks within a year. Over time, the outbreaks usually happen less often and are less severe.
Experts do not know what causes the virus to become active. Some women say the virus comes back when they are sick, under stress, out in the sun, or during their period.
How To Prevent Transmission
The only way to completely protect yourself from both types of herpes is to avoid skin-to-skin contact. While it is unlikely for herpes to spread through inanimate objects, keep in mind that herpes can spread through saliva, so it’s best to avoid sharing things like toothbrushes and eating utensils. Other protective measures include:
- Condom use during sex
- Dental dam use during oral sex
- Using a water-based lubricant during sex – oil-based lubricants can weaken latex
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It’s Possible To Get Herpes From Kissing
- Oral and genital can be transmitted through direct skin-to-skin contact, and that includes kissing.
- You can get herpes from someone even if they show no symptoms or visible sores.
- While possible, it is highly unlikely for herpes to spread through objects like utensils, towels, or toilet seats.
When it comes to herpes transmission, it’s important to get the facts straight. Understanding how this common sexually transmitted disease spreads can ensure you and others stay safe, and prompt you to get the right treatment to help manage the disease.
A person can contract herpes through direct contact, which means it is possible to become infected if you kiss a person that has the virus.
Read on to learn more about how herpes spreads, the measures you can take to prevent transmission, and what to do if you are infected.
Quick fact: Herpes is very common infection. An estimated 12% of people 14 to 49 years old in the US reportedly have genital herpes. Oral herpes is even more common, affecting about 48% of people in the same age range.
There are two kinds of herpes: HSV-1, or oral herpes, and HSV-2, or genital herpes. Both types can make cold sores and blisters pop up on or around the mouth, genitals, or rectum.
According to the CDC, the intial stage of herpes infection is four days after exposure. Oral and genital herpes are most contagious during this “outbreak” phase, whether or not the person is showing visible symptoms.
How Can I Avoid Getting Herpes
You can protect yourself from getting herpes by:
- Not having sex.
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results.
- Using latex condoms and dental dams the right way every time you have sex.
Herpes symptoms can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered by a latex condom. However, outbreaks can also occur in areas that are not covered by a condom, so condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
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How Long Does It Take To Get Herpes
It is very hard to determine how long does it take to get herpes. It may not even be detected too soon. It is a kind of virus that acts on the skin, resulting in diseases of the skin. It spreads as sores in and around the mouth, or the genital area. The sores slowly turn into fluid boils and eventually seep out blood or white fluid. The final healing process takes up to 2 to 4 weeks, though there is no final corrective measure for it. It is a long-lasting occurrence and cannot say how long does it take to get herpes.
Herpes can be transmitted through oral sex if the person given oral sex has herpes on the genitals. It can also be transmitted through sexual intercourse without protection. Hence it is advisable to use condoms while having sex. At times, due to the unawareness of how long does it take to get herpes, there is no way to avoid its transmission if the aforementioned precautions are not taken. Even kissing a person who has sores around the mouth may pass on the virus to the other person. The sores that occur in case of herpes are quite hurtful, causing extreme discomfort. The initial symptoms start to be noticeable between 2 to 20 days and even if treated the sores may last for longer than that .
Does A Cold Sore On My Mouth Mean I Have Genital Herpes
No, a cold sore on your mouth usually means you have herpes simplex virus type 1 . You can get HSV-1 by kissing someone or sharing utensils, towels, razors, or lipstick with someone who has HSV-1.
HSV-1 cannot turn into HSV-2 , but you can get a cold sore on your mouth from HSV-2 if you give oral sex to someone with HSV-2. Cold sores caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2 are contagious. You can spread it to other people or other parts of your body if you touch an open sore and then touch another part of your body. That means if you have a cold sore and give oral sex to someone, that person will get the herpes virus on his or her genitals.
Avoid touching your cold sore as much as possible. If you touch your cold sore, wash your hands right away to avoid spreading the infection to other parts of your body or other people.
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Can You Prevent Genital Herpes 100% Of The Time
The best way to prevent the transmission of genital herpes is by utilizing consistent, safe sex practices and abstaining from sex during outbreaks.
While practicing ideal hygiene, such as gently washing genitals and thoroughly cleaning sex toys before/after sex, along with using condoms and dental dams, are effective ways to protect your sexual health and decrease your risk of sexually transmitted infections, they are not 100% effective.
Condoms can sometimes break or slip off during sexual activity. That’s why it’s essential to get tested regularly and have open conversations with your sexual partners about their sexual health and testing practices. â
There Are 2 Herpes Simplex Viruses That Can Cause Infection
- One causes most genital herpes.
- The other virus can also cause genital herpes but more often causes blisters of the mouth and lips.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that about 1 out of 6 people ages 14 to 49have genital herpes.
Women are more easily infected with herpes than men.
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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.
Consider Alternative Forms Of Sexual Activity
Naturally, monogamy isnt for everyone. One way you can greatly reduce the risks of getting STDs is by avoiding intercourse that involves genital contact. Think in terms of mutual masturbation or the use of sex toys,
Living with genital herpes is not a death sentence, but seeing as there is no cure for this condition, prevention is your best bet. It may take some effort, but overcoming a little awkwardness with regard to discussing STDs with sexual partners is worthwhile, as it could potentially save you greater discomfort in the longer term.
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How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
Often, your doctor can diagnose genital herpes by looking at visible sores. Your doctor or nurse may also use a cotton swab to take a fluid sample from a sore to test in a lab.
Genital herpes can be hard to diagnose, especially between outbreaks. Blood tests that look for antibodies to the herpes virus can help diagnose herpes in women without symptoms or between outbreaks.
A Pap test is not used to detect genital herpes.
How Can You Catch Herpes
Like most sexual transmitted infections , herpes is passed on when someone with an active outbreak of the virus has sexual intercourse with a partner. It may also be spread by contact with bodily fluids from an infected person, including blood, saliva, vaginal fluid, semen or any fluid expelled from a weeping herpes blister.
The virus is passed onto the other person through tiny breaks in the mucous membranes or skin. Because viruses are very small, herpes can easily spread even if the breaks are only microscopic. This means you cannot conduct a visual inspection of a partner and guarantee that they will not catch the disease.
It is also worth noting that while the virus is generally passed on during the phase when the blisters are visible on the skin, there is also the possibility of infection spreading even when blisters are not showing.
This is due to something called asymptomatic shedding. This is where the virus continues to shed into bodily fluids even when dormant. This kind of shedding is most common during the first 12 months of herpes infections. However, it may continue throughout the life of the infection and you cannot guarantee that because you have no visible sores that your partner will not be infected.
In a monogamous relationship, a female partner carries a substantially higher risk of contracting herpes from an infected male partner than vice-versa.
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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.
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Can Herpes Be Spread Through Towels And Other Items
Herpes is one of the most stigmatized STIs, despite it also being one of the most common. It affects billions of people around the world! Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions surrounding herpes is the myth that it can spread through towels and other items.
The truth is that the herpes virus cant survive on objects like towels and toilet seats. If you or your partner has genital herpes, you can safely share a bedroom and bathroom without feeling the need to sanitize everything between each use!
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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.
Possible Complications And Side Effects
Herpes simplex, while not dangerous on its own, can invite a host of other infections. Herpes sores can increase the risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections. Its also possible for a newborn to be exposed during the birthing process. Genital herpes can lead to swelling and infections of the urethra.
If you are pregnant and have herpes, tell your doctor. They may want to give you antiviral medicines to prevent an outbreak when you deliver your baby. If an outbreak occurs at the time of delivery, a cesarean section may be suggested to prevent infecting your baby with herpes.
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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 Can I Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
If you have lots of herpes outbreaks, your doctor may tell you to take medicine every day this is called suppressive therapy. It can help prevent future herpes outbreaks, and lower your chances of giving herpes to your partners.
Whether or not you take medicine to treat herpes, taking care of yourself by eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress might help keep future outbreaks from popping up.
No one knows for sure what triggers genital herpes outbreaks. Other infections, surgery, sex, your period, skin irritations, and stress may cause outbreaks. Sunburns, injuries to your lips, or other infections can cause oral herpes flare-ups. Try to avoid getting sunburned if you have oral herpes.
Genital herpes outbreaks usually happen less often and become shorter and weaker after a few years whether or not you get treated.
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If Someone With Herpes Has No Sores Can It Still Be Passed On
If someone has herpes but no sores, can it still be passed on to another person? Spence*
Yes. Even when no sores are present, the herpes is still active in the body and can spread to others.
If you or your partner has herpes, reduce the risk of spread by:
- using a condom every time you have sex . The herpes virus can live outside of the area that a condom covers, though, so a condom may not always prevent the spread.
- avoiding sex during outbreaks
- making sure the infected person takes antiviral medicine every day as prescribed by the health care provider
- *Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
How Can I Prevent Giving Genital Herpes To My Partner
You can reduce the risk of passing the herpes virus to your sexual partners by taking the following steps:
Tell current sexual partners that you have genital herpes. You also should tell future partners before having sexual contact.
Be alert to the symptoms that signal an outbreak is coming. Avoid sexual contact from the time you feel symptoms until a few days after the sores have gone away.
Wash your hands with soap and water after any possible contact with sores.
Take antiviral medication on a daily basis .
Use male latex condoms.
Its also important to know that you can pass HSV to someone else even when you do not have sores . The virus can be present on skin that looks normal, including right before and after an outbreak.
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