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.
Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
What Treatments Are Available For Genital Herpes
The treatment for genital herpes varies between an initial outbreak and a recurrent attack. If you are suffering from a primary infection of genital herpes then it is likely you will be prescribed an antiviral medication, for example, Aciclovir 400mg tablets.
Aciclovir works by preventing the herpes simplex virus from multiplying. Aciclovir, and other antivirals, are unable to completely eradicate the infection from the body. The dose of Aciclovir when treating genital herpes is typically one 400mg tablet, five times a day after your inital outbreak. You will need to take Aciclovir for at least five days or longer depending on whether new blisters are still forming when you start treatment. For subsequent outbreaks of genital herpes, you only need to take one Aciclovir 400mg tablet, three times a day for five days. Other antiviral medications used to treat genital herpes include Valaciclovir, which works in a similar way to Aciclovir.
Lidocaine 5% ointment is an anaesthetic ointment used to know the area of genital herpes to relieve the pain and irritation of blistering during the outbreak. It does not treat the infection itself, however, it helps to relieve the symptoms whilst the outbreak clears on its own.
Recurrent outbreaks may require a course of Aciclovir however, if your symptoms are mild, you may wish to use some self-help techniques to ease the symptoms. These can include:
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Herpes Nerve Pain: Symptoms
Herpes-related nerve pain can be extremely uncomfortable. What does it feel like? Most people describe it as a muscle and skin tenderness that makes the skin surface extremely sensitive to touch.
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Even fabric of clothes can be painful, a phenomenon known as allodynia.
Other times, its described it as an electrical shock sensation.
Herpes leg pain almost always happens on one side of the body. It usually starts at the base of the spine and down the left thigh, although it can also occur on the right leg. The nerve pain can spread over the next days or weeks down the leg, or around the low back and buttocks, and also might be felt in the genital area.
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How Can You Treat Cold Sores Naturally
Generally, cold sores can heal on its own without treatment within a few weeks. However, if you experience a frequent reoccurrence of cold sores, you must see your doctor who then may prescribe antiviral medication/injection or lip cream or laser treatment in some cases.
You can also try these natural remedies for treating cold sores:
- Ice Soothe your cold sore by applying an ice pack.
- Over-the-Counter Creams Use these creams to manage pain or to keep the skin soft when healing. Sunburns resulting from exposure to the sun can also trigger a cold sore, so use sunscreen to prevent it.
- Pain-Relievers Apply over-the-counter painkillers to manage pain.
- Tea Tree Oil/ Peppermint Oil Use tea tree oil or peppermint oil to heal cold sores.
- Propolis Being a man-made form of beeswax, this ointment can be used to treat cold sores.
- Manuka Honey Produced by New Zealand bees, this honey is as effective as a topical medication to treat cold sores.
- Lemon Balm Use lemon balm extracts to heal your cold sores.
- Lysine Use lysine cream or its capsule form to treat cold sores.
- Vitamin C and E Both Vitamin C and Vitamin E can help inactivate the Herpes Simplex Virus and prevent cold sores.
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Treatment Options For Genital Herpes
Acyclovir was the first antiviral agent to be used in the treatment of genital herpes, and as such, is the most extensively studied of the antiviral agents currently available. This drug is available in topical, oral, and intravenous forms . In the distant past, topical acyclovir was used to treat recurrent genital herpes, but its ineffectiveness has been known for quite some time. A randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study found that after application of topical acyclovir 6 times daily for 5 days, only the duration of virus shedding from lesions was reduced compared to placebo. Differences between time to lesion crusting, lesion healing, new lesion formation, and cessation of pain were non-significant .
Intravenous acyclovir remains the most effective form of treatment for a primary genital herpes infection, leading to significant reduction in time to cessation of viral shedding and pain. Time to lesion healing is also 6 days faster than with placebo alone . However, as IV administration of acyclovir requires hospitalization, this route is reserved for patients with life-threatening disease or systemic complications .
Antivirals That Require A Prescription
- Acyclovir is a prescription medication used to improve the healing of sores or blisters caused by a number of conditions, including first-time and repeat outbreaks of genital herpes. It works by slowing or stopping the spread of the herpes virus within the body, but it cannot cure genital herpes.
- Valacyclovir is another antiviral prescription drug used to treat genital herpes and shingles. Taken twice a day for five days, Valtrex may decrease uncomfortable symptoms and help sores heal faster. In some cases, this antiviral can also prevent new sores from forming.
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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.
How Can I Reduce The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
If you think you have genital herpes because you have one or more of the symptoms or have been sexually intimate with someone who has, you should have a sexual health check-up and get treated as soon as you can. However, there is more that you can do to reduce the symptoms of an outbreak.
If you are experiencing a genital herpes outbreak, you may want to:
- Use an ice pack wrapped in a towel or flannel to soothe pain
- Pour water over your genitals or use painkilling cream/petroleum jelly to reduce pain while you urinate
- Use regular water or salt water to keep blisters clean and not infected
- Keep your hands clean whenever you touch your genitals
You should not:
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How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
The best way to find out if you have genital herpes is to have a sexual health check-up. This may involve a physical examination and a swab from the affected area to test for HSV. To confirm genital herpes the lab needs to find herpes simplex virus types 1 or 2 on a swab.
Diagnosis is easier if early ulcers or blisters are present.
Because it is possible to have another STI at the same time, a full sexual health check-up should be done.
Sexual contacts should be informed of the diagnosis and it may be advisable for them to have a sexual health check-up.
Limit Exposure To Triggers
Several factors can worsen your chances of a cold sore outbreak, so its important to be proactive and limit exposure to triggers of cold sores. Cold sores can develop as a physical response to stress and fatigue, hormonal changes, harsh weather conditions, and a compromised immune system. As such, it is important to avoid situations that provoke stress and anxiety. Try your best to get enough exercise and to stretch and complete breathing exercises when feeling overwhelmed. Also, create a routine sleep schedule by trying to wake up and go to bed around the same time each day. During the winter and summer, it is important to dress appropriately for the weather. When its cold, be sure to protect yourself against the wind and sun. During warm weather, avoid direct sunlight, and always apply sunscreen before you go outside.
Women, in particular, may struggle with cold sores closer to their menstrual cycles. If you can anticipate when to expect your period, you can be more proactive about preventing cold sores from happening in the first place. Lastly, if you are already sick or at risk for a compromised immune system, you should take more initiative to combat cold sores from the get-go. Make sure you always get a routine flu vaccination, take a daily multivitamin in addition to eating a nutrient-dense diet, and give your body enough time to get the rest and recovery it needs.
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Got Ulcers Get Tested
A person with genital ulcers should see his or her doctor. Its important to confirm whether or not it is herpes. Genital herpes outbreaks are treated with antiviral medications. These medications can help to reduce the number of days of discomfort and have few side effects. They are most effective when taken early in an outbreak. Some people take these drugs daily to prevent outbreaks.
Once someone has had a test that confirms either type of genital herpes, future partners can have a blood test which tells them if they already have been exposed to the same strain of virus. If the person tests negative, the partner with the infection would be advised to take antiviral therapy daily, in order to help prevent infecting his or her partner. Although daily antiviral therapy decreases the chances of spreading the virus, there is no guarantee, so its best to have a frank conversation with a new sexual partner.
How To Prevent Cold Sores
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Prevention of cold sores largely depends on how an individual cares for themselves by observing and also keeping measures to the required levels. These include self-care and cautionary steps such as
- Avoiding kissing with individuals diagnosed with herpes simplex on lips
- Keeping the sores clean with plain cool water
- If it is discovered that sunlight triggers recurrence you better stay away from sun when outdoors
- Avoid making skin contacts especially with one who has had HSV reactivated
- It will also be of help if you stopped sharing towels, lipstick and other lip cosmetic products
Sometimes antiviral medicines , when taken as per your doctors descriptions, will help avoid the recurrence of a cold sore on the lip in the future.
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Do Natural Remedies Help
There are several options that can be tried to ease the pain. A73612 and Donnor52059 suggest dabbing cornstarch directly on the sores. I can’t find any scientific studies that have researched this, but I can’t see that it would do any harm.
A73612 also recommends squirting water from a bottle over the sores when you pee. This is a time-honoured method that will help to ease the pain.
Yolandayw mentioned taking a simple painkiller such as paracetamol during an outbreak. Feelbroken advised putting Vaseline on the sores. Lidocaine 5%, a local anaesthetic gel that numbs the area, is another option. Some people find it helpful to put on five minutes before passing urine. You need to get it on prescription and it doesn’t suit everyone. Some people develop sensitivity to it which makes the symptoms worse.
Yolandayw also advised using ice as a home remedy. Simply wrap the ice in a tea towel and apply for 5-10 minutes. Never put ice directly on the skin as this can cause ‘ice burn’. Drinking plenty of water can also be helpful as it reduces the concentration of urine, making it less painful when you have to pee.
D91907 mentioned putting aloe vera gel on the sores. There is some scientific evidence that aloe vera is useful for both genital and oral herpes.
Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes On Face
Although the signs and symptoms of facial herpes vary from person to person, they usually begin with a tingling followed by burning, pain, redness, and swelling of the skin in one area of the face. In addition to these symptoms, you may have a fever and swollen lymph nodes in your neck.
After these signs and symptoms you will see some blisters that after a few days burst into sores, which are covered by a crust that dries and falls. Finally the skin returns to its initial state.
This means herpes on face is a six-phase disease that begins with the first signs and ends with the healing phase.
The early stages of disease until sores appear are called herpes outbreaks.
Stages of facial herpes.
How long does a facial herpes last?
The duration of this disease is determined by the time from the beginning of the first phase to the end of the last phase that oscillates between two and three weeks in the primary infection, that is, the first time it appears.
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When And How Are Later Outbreaks Treated
Later outbreaks with only mild symptoms dont necessarily need to be treated. The blisters can then simply heal on their own.
But antiviral medication can also shorten the duration of later outbreaks by an average of about two days. If you decide to have treatment, its important to start it within the first 24 hours of the outbreak ideally, as soon as you notice the first symptoms. So its a good idea to always have a few tablets at home or to take them with you when you travel so they are ready to use. You can get a prescription from your doctor.
In later outbreaks you can take them for a shorter time. The WHO recommends the following:
- aciclovir: 400 mg three times per day or 800 mg two times per day for five days, or 800 mg three times per day for two days,
- famciclovir: 250 mg two times per day for five days, or
- valaciclovir: 500 mg two times per day for three days.
A different dose and treatment duration may be a good idea for people who have immune system disorders, such as an HIV infection.
Does Herpes Need To Be Treated
Treating herpes simplex symptoms may not be necessary. Herpes simplex infections clear up even if no treatment is given. But treating genital herpes can be helpful particularly if there are severe symptoms. Some people are affected more than others. See below for the rare occasions when it can be serious.
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What Is Suppressive Treatment For Genital Herpes
Suppressive treatment involves taking medication on a daily basis to reduce the chance of a genital herpes outbreak.
Taking antiviral medicines on a daily basis also reduces the amount of virus that is shed, both when sores are present and in between outbreaks, when the skin looks normal.
Suppressive treatment does not guarantee that you will not get a herpes outbreak, but should reduce the severity and frequency of herpes outbreaks.
Over time, your immune system tends to exert better control over the herpes virus, so your doctor may suggest stopping treatment every 6 months to see whether you have any further outbreaks. Treatment can be re-started if you do have a recurrence.
What Are Recurrences Of Herpes And How Likely Are They
Recurrences are repeat symptoms which appear at or close to the place where the infection was first noticed. These are often fairly minor and may be no more than a small spot that heals in a few days. They may be accompanied by sensations itches or nerve twinges. They are unlikely to be as severe as first symptoms and may be almost unnoticed.
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What Do Genital Herpes Symptoms Look Like
Other symptoms can include:
- tingling or burning around the genitals
- feeling unwell, with aches, pains and flu-like symptoms
- unusual vaginal discharge in women.
Many people with genital herpes wont get any symptoms, or may get symptoms for the first time months or even years after they were infected.
For most people, the blisters go away within one to two weeks. Although the outbreaks clear-up by themselves, the virus stays in the body. This means that people usually get blisters again which is called having a recurrent outbreak. Outbreaks usually become shorter and less severe over time.