Education Is An Integral Part Of Herpes Treatment
If you have genital herpes, its important for you to get educated about herpes and have the opportunity to ask questions in a supportive environment.
Becoming informed will help you learn to cope with the illness. It will also help you prevent sexual transmission of the illness, or transmission to an infant during a pregnancy.
Herpes has a tremendous psychosocial overlay. But knowledge about it and understanding about how well it can be managed can reduce that, says Handsfield.
Your doctor may be able to provide you with all the information you need, or you may choose to seek counseling from a mental health professional or at a clinic that specializes in sexual health, such as Planned Parenthood.
If you have a regular sexual partner, that person should also have the chance to learn about herpes and ask any questions they may have about it.
Be Comfortable With Yourself
If youve accepted and come to terms with your diagnosis, that makes it much easier to tell someone you have herpes or any STI. When youre comfortable, that comes across. This attitude can be incredibly reassuring to your love interest.
If you arent comfortable with yourself, that will come across, too your nerves or insecurity could make them nervous.
This is not to say to not show any feeling. Its okay to admit that its embarrassing. Youre human, and this will help them understand and empathize with you.
Just go easy on yourself so others can too. After all, everyone comes with baggage, and a lot of them are still great catches.
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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And maybe now, youll have the chance to help educate others about this very common virus that they may already have and not even know it. And this is an ok decision.
10 items to pack for babys first beach trip beach trip. 5 undeniable reasons to have an emergency call with alexandra:
After testing dozens of pillows this budget option is the. A person learning that you have herpes might want to know how many partners youve had, or how you got it.
If your period was a person person period comedy. Herpes wasnt completely unknown to me, even before i got it myself.
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Protecting Your Partner And Preventing Herpes Transmission
Research shows that the single greatest fear is the fear of transmission to partners, says Dr. Handsfield.
The main ways to avoid transmitting herpes are:
- Learn to recognize how you feel when an outbreak is on the way, and stop having sex immediately.
- Dont have sex during active outbreaks.
- Always use condoms but dont rely on them during outbreaks. They dont completely cover infectious areas.
- Only after all sores have scabbed over and healed should you have sex again.
- Avoid touching your herpes sores, because you can spread them to other places on your body that way. Whenever you touch a sore, wash your hands immediately.
- Dont kiss people or have sex if you have a cold sore.
- Tell potential partners about having herpes before having sex with them, even though it may be hard.
- Ask your doctor about taking antiviral drugs regularly.
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Learn As Much As You Can About Genital Herpes First
Before you tell, learn all you can about genital herpes so you can be prepared to answer any questions your partner may have. Stress that its very common. Hearing the one-in-five statistic could be a relief. Also explain what it means to have it. Some people get sores on their genitals occasionally, but many others get symptoms so mild they dont even notice them.
Choose words wisely. You dont want to load the discussion with negative imagery. Although genital herpes is a disease, saying that you have this disease conjures up unpleasant images, so avoid using that word. Watch adjectives, too. Dont describe your condition as horrible,disgusting, or incurable.
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Put Genital Herpes In Context
People may have an irrational, inaccurate perception of genital herpes. Since its a sexually transmitted virus, they may group it in the dangerous STDs category of their mind, often beside diseases and viruses with much more severe symptoms.
Because of this, its often necessary to follow up the I have herpes part of the conversation with some quick statistics to provide context.
One way to do this is to let your partner know how common it is. According to the World Health Organization, when it comes to HSV-2, an estimated 11 percent of the world population ages 15 to 49 have the virus meaning you can correctly and accurately let your partner know that at least one in ten people is infected with the virus.
To put it in context, you can ask your partner to imagine that one in ten of the people they met that day have the exact same confession to make at some point, assuming they know theyre infected. Sometimes, this is all it takes to put genital herpes in context as a common type of virus.
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Pimples Test Negative For All These Tests
What do I do now?
Once you successfully identify the nature of your sores, which should be an easy task now that you know what herpes looks like, the management is not that complex either. Since pimples are a hygiene issue, it only means a more thorough cleaning with effective products such as acne ointments, antibacterial soap and creams, oil ointments for inflammation, and patting with a warm, wet cloth a few times a day.
On the contrary, if you have even a little doubt that your sores may be herpes, you should visit your primary care physician and get an anti-viral prescription. Herpes may be incurable but anti-viral is more than enough to stop it from affecting your quality of life at all. Early identification is the key to a better life.
I am Jeannette, the medical writing specialist here at Family Medicine Austin. I have over five years of experience working with a range of medical and healthcare across the U.S.
When Is Genital Herpes Most Contagious
During active outbreaks, your viral load is heavier, and at those times you are most likely to infect a sexual partner, says Dr. Baill. Without an outbreak, the viral load is usually insufficient to infect a normal, healthy partner.
Remember, some people with HSV infections never have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at all. Although you are most contagious during outbreaks when sores are visible, you can also be contagious at times when you are free of any visible sores.
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 youre infected with the herpes virus.
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Contact Dermatitis Can Be Mistaken For Herpes
Contact dermatitis is a skin condition that can cause red, itchy, cracked, dry, or scaly skin, blisters, or a rash. Like herpes, it recurs, and while it’s not an STD, when it appears in the mouth or genital area, it may be mistaken for herpes. However, unlike herpes, contact dermatitis can happen anywhere on the skin and is caused by direct contact with an irritant or something you’re allergic to, per the Mayo Clinic. It’s not caused by a virus.
Contact dermatitis usually occurs within minutes to hours after touching an irritant. Common causes include poison ivy and reactions to medication, cosmetics, detergents, and jewelry. The skin rash from contact dermatitis usually clears up in a few weeks.
The best way to prevent contact dermatitis is to identify whats causing it and avoid touching that item or substance again. Allergy testing can help identify the cause.
While contact dermatitis is generally not a serious condition, it can be itchy and uncomfortable. When the rash is present, try using cool, wet compresses or anti-itch creams to soothe it. Antihistamine pills can help reduce the itchiness. Avoid scratching the area: Doing so can make symptoms worse and open the door to a bacterial or fungal infection. If your itching is severe, you should see your primary care provider or a dermatologist for topical steroid medication.
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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.
The Value Of A Diagnosis
If you develop any of the symptoms listed above, you should see a doctor for an evaluation. Your doctor may be able to diagnose herpes just by looking at your blisters or sores, and there are also lab tests to diagnose herpes.
Knowing you have genital herpes allows you to take steps to reduce outbreaks and to protect your sexual partner or partners.
According to the CDC, the outlook for an individual and the type of guidance that person needs depends on which virus is causing the genital herpes, HSV-1 or HSV-2. Recurrent outbreaks are much more frequent for genital herpes caused by HSV-2, as compared with cases caused by HSV-1.
The CDC recommends testing to find out which virus is involved.
The CDC also says that people with genital herpes should be tested for HIV infection. If you have herpes, its easier for you to develop an HIV infection because herpes sores give HIV an open path into your body.
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Potential Complications Of Oral Herpes
For most people, herpes is more of an inconvenience than it is a serious medical condition. Mild scarring might be a concern following a particularly severe outbreak.
There are two instances in which herpes poses a more severe risk, but neither of these instances involves oral herpes. For example:
- Neonatal herpes is a risk for infants born to mothers with genital herpes. It can lead to neurological disability and is potentially fatal.
- Herpes simplex encephalitis occurs when herpes infects a persons central nervous system . Its treatable, but can be fatal if not treated properly.
Many people have herpes but are asymptomatic, meaning they dont even know they have it.
Can Oral Herpes Come Back?
Oral herpes sores can come back. The virus remains in your body forever once youve contracted it.
However, it can remain dormant for a certain period and then reactivate. When this occurs, a person is likely to develop mild symptoms, including sores.
Some people refer to this as herpes coming back, even though its better described as a flare-uporrecurrence.
Give Your Partner Time To Think
Some people need time to process whether or not they are comfortable getting involved with someone who has an STI. I once dated someone who disappeared after I told him over drinks that I had genital herpes. He resurfaced after a week to ask me out for dinner, and when I teased him about his vanishing act over artisanal grilled cheeses, he admitted that hed needed time to do his research.
Having someone vanish while they make up their mind may be irritating and nerve-wracking, but it isnt necessarily a bad thing. Some folks need space to noodle through what an STI would mean for their lives if they were to contract one. People with compromised immune systems may need to speak to their doctor. If theyre a good person, theyll pop back up eventually to move forward or let you down nicely.
That being said, occasionally youll stumble across someone who Googles transmission statistics while youre in the bathroom and is good to go as soon as you get back to the restaurant table. Those ones are my favorites.
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Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.
What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?
For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.
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
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Testing For Genital Herpes
If you think you may have genital herpes you should make an appointment with your GP or local sexual health services.
If there are symptoms present such as blisters, sores and ulcers, your doctor or nurse may be able to make a diagnosis straight away.
If you have visible blisters, your doctor or nurse may take a swab for testing, to check if this is herpes and what type. This swab can also test for another STI which causes blisters called syphilis.
The genital herpes swab tests are very reliable, though if the ulcer is too dry then it may be less likely to find a positive result.
Support And Advice For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.
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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.
Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Many people who have genital herpes are unaware that they have the virus because they have no symptoms, mild symptoms, or mistake the symptoms for other conditions such as jock itch, yeast infections, razor burn or allergic reactions to detergents. The infection can be diagnosed by taking a swab from the sores or through blood tests. Those with symptoms may experience a tingling sensation or itching in the genital area within a few days of having sex with an infected person. A cluster of blisters may appear and burst, leaving painful sores often lasting two to three weeks. A fever, headache and muscular pain may occur during the first attack.
After the sores from the first attack heal, the virus goes into a dormant stage, but recurrent outbreaks can occur. Some people have only one or two recurrences in a lifetime, while others have them frequently. Recurrences are typically shorter in duration and less severe than the first episode. Stress, menstrual cycle, illness, fever, surgery, exposure to sun, having sex, pregnancy, and the use of some medications can play a role in the frequency and severity of outbreaks. Herpes can continue to be transmitted to others, even between recurrences when the infected person has no symptoms.
Women’s symptoms can include:
- tender lumps in the groin
Men’s symptoms can include:
- tender lumps in the groin
For both men and women, the sores will usually occur on or near the area where the virus was transmitted.
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Can Genital Herpes Cause Other Problems
For most women, genital herpes does not usually cause serious health problems.
Women with HIV can have severe herpes outbreaks that are long-lasting. Herpes also may play a role in the spread of HIV. Herpes sores can make it easier for HIV to get into your body. Also, herpes can make people who are HIV-positive more likely to spread the infection to someone else.