Pay Attention To What You Eat
ASHA reports that some people believe foods containing the amino acid arginine, such as legumes and whole grains, can contribute to outbreaks. A few older studies, conducted in 1981 and 1987, showed a possible connection, but ASHA states there is no clinical evidence to support these studies. However, because triggers may vary based on the individual, keep track of the foods you eat to determine if there is a connection.
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.
Antiviral Medicine Can Be Taken Daily
For some people, taking an antiviral medicine every day works best because they have:
A partner who doesnt have the virus
Even if you treat an outbreak, you can have new outbreaks. Some people have several outbreaks a year. If you have six or more outbreaks a year, your dermatologist may recommend taking an antiviral medicine every day.
Taken daily, this medicine can reduce how often you have an outbreak. Studies show its safe to take daily and can reduce outbreaks by 70% to 80%.
A partner who doesnt have the virus
If your partner doesnt have the virus that causes genital herpes, taking an antiviral medicine every day can decrease the risk of passing the virus to your sexual partner.
Even when taking medicine, you can still give your partner the virus. You can reduce this risk by skipping sex when you have sores and wearing a condom when you dont.
If you decide to take medicine daily, youll likely take it every day for at least one year. At the end of one year, your dermatologist should re-evaluate you to see if you still need to take an antiviral every day.
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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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Herpes Outbreaks: How Long Do They Last And How To Treat Them
Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world. Many people have herpes and show no symptoms, which makes the disease very transmittable.
For many men and women, herpes outbreaks can be daunting, embarrassing, and even frustrating. These outbreaks lead to painful sores, embarrassing conversations, and trial and error treatment options.
To best understand how to manage herpes outbreaks, first, you need to be familiar with the STD itself.
What is Herpes?
Herpes is a viral infection that usually causes small, painful blisters on or around the genital or rectal areas. These sores or blisters are commonly referred to as herpes lesions. Herpes lesions can also appear on the mouth or face.
Herpes simplex virus is the most common form of the disease and is transmitted through direct contact with an infected area or through the sharing of contaminated personal items, such as razors, towels, and clothing.
What are the Symptoms of Herpes?
Not everyone with herpes has symptoms. When symptoms do appear, they usually appear within 2 to 12 days after exposure to the virus. Some people with herpes never have any symptoms.
- Redness and itching around the infected area
- Small, painful blisters that ooze or bleed
- General sense of discomfort
The duration of the herpes outbreak depends on the person. Some people have outbreaks once a month, while others have outbreaks once a year.
How Is Herpes Diagnosed?
- Topical Treatments
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How Is It Treated
Although there is no cure, medicine can relieve pain and itching and help sores heal faster. If you have a lot of outbreaks, you may take medicine every day to limit the number of outbreaks.
After the first outbreak, some people have just a few more outbreaks over their lifetime, while others may have 4 to 6 outbreaks a year. Usually the number of outbreaks decreases after a few years.
Treatment works best if it is started as soon as possible after the start of an outbreak. This is especially true for outbreaks that come back again and again.
Finding out that you have herpes may cause you to feel bad about yourself or about sex. Counselling or a support group may help you feel better.
What If I Am Pregnant
It is important to tell your obstetrician that you or a partner have had genital herpes, so that they can monitor you for symptoms and manage your pregnancy safely. There is a risk you can pass the virus on to your baby if you have a vaginal delivery during a first attack of genital herpes. If this happens you may be recommended to have a caesarean delivery.
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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.
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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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.
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Worried About Herpes Act Quickly For Faster Relief
From cold sores to genital herpes, acting quickly helps you treat and control a herpes outbreak in the shortest amount of time. For this reason, most doctors recommend using valacyclovir in the first 24-72 hours after noticing a cold sore or other herpes blister developing.
If youve noticed a cold sore or any of the other symptoms of a herpes outbreak, its best to talk to your doctor about treatment and relief options as soon as possible.
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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.
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Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
Its really important to speak to a healthcare worker if you have herpes during pregnancy, especially if its your first outbreak. Theres a risk that your baby can develop neonatal herpes which can be very dangerous or even fatal for the baby. If you have herpes, your healthcare provider will be able to prescribe antiviral treatment to keep your baby safe and help you have a healthy pregnancy.
Speak to a healthcare worker for more information or if you have any concerns.
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If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs
No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.
Can Genital Herpes Be Prevented
The only sure way to keep from getting genital herpesor any other sexually transmitted infection is to not have sex. If you do have sex, practice safer sex.
- Before you start a sexual relationship, talk with your partner about STIs. Find out whether he or she is at risk for them. Remember that a person can be infected without knowing it.
- If you have symptoms of an STI, dont have sex.
- Dont have sex with anyone who has symptoms or who may have been exposed to an STI.
- Dont have more than one sexual relationship at a time. Having several sex partners increases your risk for infection.
- Use condoms. Condom use lowers the risk of spreading or becoming infected with an STI.
- Dont receive oral sex from partners who have cold sores.
Taking medicine for herpes may lower the number of outbreaks you have and can also prevent an episode from getting worse. It also lower the chances that you will infect your partner.
If you are pregnant, you should take extra care to avoid getting infected. You could pass the infection to your baby during delivery, which can cause serious problems for your newborn. If you have an outbreak near your due date, you probably will need to have your baby by caesarean section. If your genital herpes outbreaks return again and again, your doctor may talk to you about medicines that can help prevent an outbreak during pregnancy.
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How To Reduce Herpes Breakouts
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that causes infected sores or blisters.
Its caused by the herpes simplex virus which can be passed on through close genital contact.
You can reduce your chances of getting genital herpes by using condoms or dental dams during sex.
If you think you have symptoms of genital herpes you should see a healthcare worker, they can take a swab from a blister and test to confirm if its caused by the herpes simplex virus.
Treatment can help with herpes outbreaks, but the virus cannot be cured and will remain in the body. This means that blisters normally come back once in a while.
Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no medication to cure your body of the herpes virus. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms, reducing the frequency of recurrences and reducing transmission.
Symptoms can be improved by:
- ice packs to the affected area
- pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol
- antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. These can reduce the severity of an episode if taken early enough . Topical antivirals usually used for cold sores on the lips or face are not suitable for use on the genitals.
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Are Herpes Symptoms Permanent
No, herpes isnt always active a herpes infection always lies between a dormant phase, where it hibernates silently in your nerve cells and an activating phase. When the virus is active it is called an outbreak, which causes noticeable symptoms. An outbreak will depend on how the virus is activated in your body.
How often will I get symptoms? This varies from person to person. Some people get several outbreaks in a year and some have no outbreaks until many years after they are first infected. It is important to see your doctor if you have any herpes symptoms.
When would you be infectious to others? oral or genital herpes is most contagious during an outbreak. In between an outbreak, the virus is mostly dormant. During this phase viral shedding can happen. This stage is when the virus becomes active on your skin and is contagious. It may or may not cause you any symptoms. If viral shedding causes no symptoms, you can pass it to unknowing partners. You are not always infectious if you have herpes, but the virus is occasionally shed from your skin when there are no symptoms present. There is a risk of passing the infection on at any time you have it, but most of the time when you do not have an outbreak, you are not infectious.
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More Questions From Patients:
Many people with genital herpes have no symptoms, or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed.
The first time genital herpes symptoms appear is called the first episode or initial herpes. Initial herpes symptoms are usually more noticeable than later outbreaks.
Symptoms of genital herpes in men may include
burning when you pee if you have sores
trouble peeing if you have sores covering your urethra
itching or pain around your genitals
During initial herpes, symptoms may also include
swollen, tender glands in the pelvic area, throat, or under the arms
The herpes virus is spread by skin-to-skin contact with a person who has the herpes virus:
- Most often, from herpes sores or blisters
- Less often, from normal looking skin where the virusfirst entered the body
- The herpes virus enters the body through the:
- Lining of the mouth
- Regular skin that has small cracks or cuts
People with a weak immune system can get a herpesinfection more easily. A weak immune system is causedby some diseases and by somemedicines used to treat serious diseases.
People who dont know they have herpes can still spread the virus to others.
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Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes
Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.
Recurrences may be triggered by:
- no apparent reason noted.
What Happens At A Sexual Health Clinic
The doctor or nurse at the sexual health clinic will:
- ask about your symptoms and your sexual partners
- use a small cotton bud to take some fluid from 1 of your blisters or sores for testing
The test cannot:
- be done if you do not have visible blisters or sores
- tell you how long you have had herpes or who you got it from
Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus.
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