How To Check If You Have Asymptomatic Herpes
If you have no herpes symptoms but believe you might have been exposed to the virus, you can take a herpes test to verify whether or not youre infected.
The most accurate herpes testing method for asymptomatic people is an IgG test, which checks for the presence of IgG antibodies in your blood. These antibodies can signal a herpes infection using certain testing methods, they can also be used to differentiate between HSV-1 and HSV-2.
IgG antibodies can take several months to form after a herpes infection, meaning youll typically need to wait for 12 to 16 weeks before taking an IgG test to make sure you receive an accurate result.
If youre concerned that you might have asymptomatic herpes, the best approach is to speak to your doctor about testing options. Your doctor will be able to schedule a test based on the date of your potential exposure to the virus and provide you with an accurate diagnosis. If you discover you do have HSV-1 or HSV-2, the most important thing is to not panic. These viruses are extremely common, and there are a variety of anti-viral medications out there to help minimize the severity and requency of outbreaks. Most notably, vacyclovir.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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What Is A Herpes Outbreak
A herpes outbreak happens when lesions called blisters or sores start to form on your genitals, bottom or mouth. If you have oral sex, you can also get oral herpes in the mouth. Your first outbreak of genital herpes will generally last longer with more severe symptoms, such as a fever or muscle aches.
Recurrent infections happen because the virus stays dormant in your body. Once triggered, the virus reactivates which leads to an outbreak. Triggers for recurrent infections can include being stressed, being on your period or feeling run down.
You might have an outbreak of herpes a long time after youve had unprotected sex. The virus can stay in your body and not cause symptoms straight away.
Can You Have Herpes And Not Know It
Yes, it is possible to have herpes and not know it.
Some people may have an asymptomatic infection, which means they do not experience any symptoms. Others have symptoms that are mild, go unnoticed, or mistaken for another skin issue. Because of this, theyâre less likely to seek out a diagnosis to confirm herpes.
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Herbal Remedies May Also Offer Relief
Research supports the use of certain botanical remedies. You may want to try one or more of these:
Long dan xie gan tan This Chinese herbal formula has been used to quell symptoms and reduce herpes outbreaks. Its English name is clear liver fire pills. In at least one study, the formulawas shown to inhibit the activity of HSV-1 and HSV-2.
Chinese herbal medicine is always individualized, and there are other formulas that help too, so it is helpful to consult a licensed acupuncturist or herbalist before starting this formula, says Mindich.
Mushrooms Mushrooms boost the immune system, Mindich says, and thus can help prevent recurrent herpes outbreaks. She recommends mushroom products from the Immune & Protection collection of Host Defense and from Myko San. Eating shiitake mushrooms daily has also been found to have a positive effect on the immune system in a study published in April 2015 in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.
Lemon balm This herb, which is related to mint, has traditionally been used to improve brain function and also has antiviral properties. Records concerning the medicinal use of lemon balm date back more than 2,000 years.
Lemon balm can be prepared and drunk as a tea. It can also be applied to the skin to both prevent herpes to prevent outbreaks and reduce symptoms. Research has shown that lemon balm oil directly counteracts herpes viruses.
How Do You Prevent Genital Herpes
People with genital herpes outbreaks are highly contagious. Anyone with active disease should avoid any sexual contact when sores are present. Even the use of a condom does not prevent the spread of disease because not all sores are covered by the condom.
Although the chance of spreading disease is greatest when sores are present, people who have had genital herpes may always be contagious to some degree, even if they have received medical treatment. The virus can become active and be transmitted to a sexual partner even when the skin appears completely normal. For this reason, safe sex practices should be used between disease outbreaks to lessen the chance of spreading the disease to a sexual partner. There is no vaccine available to prevent genital herpes infection.
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How To Prevent Genital Herpes Outbreaks
Medically reviewed by
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.
How Can You Prevent Cold Sores
There are some things you can do to keep from getting the herpes simplex virus.
- Avoid coming into contact with infected body fluids, such as kissing an infected person.
- Avoid sharing eating utensils, drinking cups, or other items that a person with a cold sore may have used.
After you have been infected with the virus, there is no sure way to prevent more cold sores. But there are some things you can do to reduce your number of outbreaks and prevent spreading the virus.
- Avoid the things that trigger your cold sores, such as stress and colds or the flu.
- Always use lip balm and sunscreen on your face. Too much sunlight can cause cold sores to flare.
- Avoid sharing towels, razors, silverware, toothbrushes, or other objects that a person with a cold sore may have used.
- When you have a cold sore, make sure to wash your hands often, and try not to touch your sore. This can help keep you from spreading the virus to your eyes or genital area or to other people.
- Talk to your doctor if you get cold sores often. You may be able to take prescription pills to prevent cold sore outbreaks.
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A Holistic Approach To Prevention And Treatment
While herpes normally isnt a life-threatening illness, itis pervasive, persistent, painful and often embarrassing to theapproximately 60 to 90 percent of the U.S. population who have it. SinceAIDS surfaced more than 15 years ago, herpes another oftensexually-transmitted disease has received little media attention andresearch dollars. Recently, the New England Journal of Medicine warned that herpes lesions increase a persons risk ofcontracting the AIDS virus. In addition, the Centers for Disease Controlhave reported that about 1 in 5 Americans age 12 years and older hasherpes, most of whom dont know they are infected. Since the late 1970s,the incidence of genital herpes has risen 30 percent.
To compound theproblem, what conventional medical care offers people with herpes issurprisingly little. Current prescription medicines can be expensive,ineffective for certain individuals, and carry potentially serious sideeffects. The fact is, natural remedies offer many more options toeffectively relieve the discomfort and to prevent future herpes outbreaks.CONTROLLING HERPES NATURALLY: A Holistic Approach to Prevention andTreatment is a supportive, easy-to-use guide to help people withherpes take control of their health. It offers them the tools to liberatethemselves from the cruelty of facial and genital herpes.
CQ Editors Review:
Carol Mulvihill, RN,C, Editor of ConnectionsQuarterly, the Newsletter for College Health Nurses
Boosting Your Immune System
Another way to potentially speed up healing for herpes outbreaks and reduce the frequency of future outbreaks is to strengthen your bodys natural immunity. When your immune system is strong, it will be more capable of suppressing the virus.
Some of the recommended ways to boost your immunity include:
- Minimize stress.
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Episodic Therapy For Recurrences
For a recurrent episode, treatment takes 1 to 5 days, depending on the type of medication and dosage. You should begin the medication as soon as you notice any signs or symptoms of herpes, preferably during the prodrome stage that precedes the outbreak of lesions.
In order for episodic therapy to be effective, it must be taken no later than 1 day after a lesion appears. If taken during prodrome, episodic therapy may help prevent an outbreak from occurring or reduce its severity. If taken at the first sign of a lesion, it can help speed healing.
How To Get Rid Of Herpes Naturally
Not every person with a herpes infection actually experiences breakouts of cold sores throughout his or her lifetime or even after initially becoming infected. How often someone has a herpes cold sore outbreak, how severe the outbreaks are, how contagious someone is after infection and how long the sores take to heal all depend on someones individual immune response.
1. Boost Nutrient Intake
If youre going to keep the herpes virus from frequently causing outbreaks, the first step in how to get rid of herpes is to improve immune function by boosting nutrient intake. Include these healing foods in your diet to keep the virus dormant as much as possible:
2. Avoid Inflammatory Foods
Certain foods can raise inflammation, weaken immune defenses and make skin irritation even worse. Avoid the following foods as much as possible to limit outbreak severity and duration.
3. Consider Supplements
- Antiviral herbs: These include elderberry, calendula, echinacea, garlic, astragalus and licorice root.
- L-lysine : Can help treat and prevent outbreaks.
- Lemon balm extract: Apply as a topical cream for healing.
- Vitamin C : Vitamin C boosts immune function improving herpes.
- Zinc : Zinc benefits include supporting immune function, keeping viruses dormant and rebuilding skin tissue to speed up healing.
- B-complex : B vitamins help your body deal with stress and can prevent outbreaks.
4. Try Essential Oils
5. Ease Cold Sore Pain Naturally
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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.
Epsom Salt Bath For Genital Herpes
While many people think of Epsom salt baths for treating sore muscles, they might not realize a soak can help with genital herpes symptoms as well.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends 1020 minutes in a warm Epsom salt bath for genital herpes relief. The Epsom salts cleanse, soothe, and reduce the itching caused by genital herpes lesions.
You can purchase Epsom salts at local pharmacies, online, or even in bulk at animal feed stores.
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Coconut Oil For Genital Herpes
Besides being great for cooking, coconut oil can provide some significant health benefits. In some cultures, the coconut tree is even referred to as the tree of life. Clinical studies on coconut oil and its components have even backed some of these benefits:
Not enough evidence exists yet on coconut oil for genital herpes to prove that it directly treats herpes lesions however, its many beneficial qualities may soothe irritated skin around outbreaks and moisturize dry herpes scabs.
Monolaurin, a coconut-oil-derived fatty acid, has also shown some promise as a natural treatment for genital herpes.
What Increases Your Risk
Things that increase your risk of getting genital herpes include:
- Having more than one sex partner.
- Having a high-risk partner or partners .
- Having unprotected sexual contact .
- Starting sexual activity at a young age. The younger people are when they start having sex, the greater their risk is of getting genital herpes.
- Having a weakened immune system.
- Being a woman. Women are more likely than men to become infected when exposed to genital herpes. And their symptoms tend to be more severe and longer-lasting. Women also are at a greater risk of having complications from a genital herpes infection.
Having herpes, especially if you have open sores, also increases your risk for becoming infected with HIV if you are exposed to HIV.
Any child with genital herpes needs to be evaluated by a doctor to see if it is the result of sexual abuse. For more information, see the topic Child Abuse and Neglect.
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When Is It Time To See A Doctor For Genital Herpes
Its important to see a doctor if you suspect you have genital herpes. Your doctor may collect a sample and test it for the herpes simplex virus and other STIs. Once your herpes diagnosis is confirmed, your doctor can help you select a medication or treatment best suited to minimize the impacts of genital herpes on your health and quality of life.
You may also want to see a doctor if your recurring genital herpes outbreaks are causing you intense pain and discomfort. Though herpes isnt a dangerous condition that causes serious health problems, ongoing outbreaks may become a nuisance or cause embarrassment and pain.
How To Cope After Diagnosis
Many posters were occupied with the issue of passing on the infection. Yolandayw points out that you can minimise the risk of transmission by postponing sex until all the sores have healed. She also mentioned that condoms should be used. They won’t completely prevent transmission but they will help.
Ending on a positive note, many posters emphasised that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Learning of the diagnosis may feel stressful at first, but it’s a manageable condition and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Lucy03934 has had genital herpes for 25 years. She’s been married for 18 years and has two sons – living proof that there is life after herpes.
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Common Herpes Virus Symptoms
- An ulcer, cold sore, or cluster of cold sores on the lips or inside your mouth shows the possibility of the HSV-1 herpes strain
- Ulcers or cold sores on the upper thighs or genital area may indicate the HSV-2 herpes strain
- The area may show redness and swelling
- Sores may be painful and rupture
- Some sores develop a white coating that burns when touched
- You may feel pain and tenderness in the affected area
- A tingling, itchy sensation in the specific area may indicate an imminent outbreak
- Some people develop flu-like symptoms that include aches, fever, irritability, and fatigue
A natural herpes treatment may address a number of these symptoms.
How Often Do Outbreaks Occur
The number of outbreaks someone has varies from person to person. The average number of outbreaks for a person with genital HSV-2 is four to five per year. The average for genital HSV-1 is less than one outbreak per year.
Usually, there are more outbreaks during the first year, and many people find that outbreaks become less severe and less frequent with time.
Herpes triggers are highly individual, but with time, many people learn to recognize, and sometimes avoid, factors that seem to reactivate HSV in their own bodies. Illness, poor diet, emotional or physical stress, friction in the genital area, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light , surgical trauma, and steroidal medication may trigger a herpes outbreak.
The frequency of outbreaks can often be managed through effective stress management, and getting adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise. For people with frequent outbreaks, suppressive therapy with any one of the antiviral treatments can reduce outbreaks by as much as 80%.
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