Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no cure for genital herpes. However, daily use of antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks. Antiviral medicines also can reduce the chance of spreading it to others.
Though several clinical trials have tested vaccines against genital herpes, there is no vaccine currently available to prevent infection. One vaccine trial showed efficacy among women whose partners had HSV-2, but only among women not infected with HSV-1. Efficacy was not observed among men whose partners had HSV-2. Another trial testing the same vaccine showed some protection from genital HSV-1 infection, but none from HSV-2.
When Is Preventive Treatment Considered
Some people have outbreaks of genital herpes very often or experience especially severe symptoms. Then it may be a good idea to take antiviral medication for a longer time including during symptom-free phases. The goal is to prevent further outbreaks and to keep the symptoms from becoming so severe. Also, the antiviral medication reduces the likelihood of infecting others. As preventive treatment, the WHO recommends the following:
- aciclovir: 400 mg two times per day,
- famciclovir: 250 mg two times per day or
- valaciclovir: 500 mg once per day.
Research shows that preventive treatment can considerably lower the risk of further outbreaks. The people participating had four or more herpes outbreaks per year before the start of the studies, and then took an antiviral medication or a fake treatment for up to one year. A comprehensive analysis of the study results shows that
- 96 out of 100 people who took a placebo had at least one further outbreak of genital herpes.
- 46 out of 100 people who were given antiviral medication had at least one further outbreak of genital herpes.
In other words, the medication prevented further outbreaks in 50 out of 100 people within one year.
People with very frequent herpes outbreaks also benefited from preventive treatment: In one study involving people with very frequent outbreaks, the medication lowered the number of episodes in one year from 11 to 2.
How Will My Doctor Know If I Have Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at your symptoms. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. In certain situations, a blood test may be used to look for herpes antibodies. Have an honest and open talk with your health care provider and ask whether you should be tested for herpes or other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or how long you have been infected.
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Who Might Get Herpes Simplex
People of any age can contract herpes simplex. You are more likely to get the virus if you:
- Were assigned female at birth.
- Have had multiple sex partners.
- Started having sex at a young age.
- Have a history of any sexually transmitted infection .
- Have a weakened immune system.
- Dont use condoms for intercourse and dental dams for oral sex.
Who gets HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes?
Anyone can get HSV-1. Most people contract HSV-1 during childhood. It spreads when an adult who has the virus has close contact with a child, such as when a family member kisses a child.
Who gets HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes?
Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms or dental dams.
People assigned female at birth are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black people who were AFAB are especially vulnerable, with an estimated 1 in 2 people AFAB between the ages of 14 and 49 infected with HSV-2.
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Antiviral Tablets To Stop The Herpes Virus Multiplying
Antiviral medicines taken by mouth, such as valaciclovir or acyclovir, are the most effective in controlling symptoms, although they cant cure genital herpes. They stop the virus from multiplying in body cells where the virus is present. The medicine only works while you are taking it. The infection can come back when you stop taking it.
Antiviral tablets are used in the following two ways:
- To treat outbreaks as they happen : The aim is to shorten the time each outbreak lasts and to relieve symptoms. This works best when taken as soon as you get symptoms and before the blisters appear.
- To prevent or reduce recurrences : If you get frequent or severe recurrent outbreaks, your doctor may recommend you take antiviral tablets every day to help prevent recurrences. Suppressive therapy is taken continuously, every day, for months or years. Suppressive antiviral therapy may help reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.
Antiviral creams bought over the counter from the pharmacy are not recommended as a treatment for a first episode or recurrent genital herpes as they are of little benefit. Antiviral tablets are the preferred treatment.
Is There Any Resistance To Genital Herpes Medication
Resistance to drugs that treat genital herpes even after 20 years of use is very rare. Herpes medications may not work as well in patients who are very immunosuppressed and have been treated with these drugs for a long time. Each individuals response to treatment may vary. In some cases, patients may need more drugs to suppress their viral outbreaks than others.
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Treatment Of Primary Infection
Antiviral therapy is recommended for an initial genital herpes outbreak, especially if the patient has systemic symptoms or is immunocompromised.2 Oral acyclovir is effective in reducing symptoms1. Intravenous administration may be required in immunocompromised patients and those with severe disseminated infection.1 Topical acyclovir reduces the duration of viral shedding and the length of time before all lesions become crusted, but this treatment is much less effective than oral or intravenous acyclovir.1
Side Effects And Follow
Side effects with these herpes drugs are considered mild, and health experts believe these drugs are safe in the long term. Acyclovir is the oldest of the three, and its safety has been documented in people taking suppressive therapy for several years.
People taking suppressive therapy should see their doctor at least once a year to decide if they should continue. You may find taking the pills every day to be inconvenient, the drugs may not work for you, or you may naturally have fewer outbreaks as time goes on. Your doctor can help you make treatment choices to suit your needs.
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Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes
Theres no cure for the herpes virus yet. A herpes vaccine doesnt currently exist, as the herpes virus has more complicated DNA than most infections, creating challenges for researchers.
However, medication can help with symptoms, like sores, and outbreaks. Medication also lowers the risk of transmission to others. You can take most medications for herpes orally, though you may also apply some as a cream or receive them by injection.
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.
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Simple Treatments For The Relief Of Discomfort
- Wear loose underclothes, preferably cotton , to help minimise discomfort and allow healing.
- Use plain water or saline solution with cotton wool to clean and soothe the area. To make a saline solution, use 1 teaspoon of salt in 600ml of water or a handful of salt in a shallow bath.
- Don’t use scented soaps, bubble bath, etc in the area, as these may irritate it.
- Using a hairdryer on its lowest setting to dry the area may be more comfortable than using a towel.
- Pain relief medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen may ease the pain. Check with your pharmacist or other health professional whether taking these is suitable for you.
- Ice wrapped in a face cloth or flannel and placed over the sores for 510 minutes may be soothing. Don’t apply ice directly to the sores as this can cause ice burn.
- If you find peeing painful, try applying Vaseline® to the area or sitting in a warm bath before urinating or using a pump bottle full of water and spraying water on yourself while peeing.
- You can also try applying a pain relief cream such as lignocaine cream to the painful area. This is applied 5 minutes before peeing and should be used for a maximum of 12 days.
- Drink plenty of fluids as this dilutes your pee and may help reduce stinging.
Herpes Simplex : Signs Symptoms Treatments And Cure Methods
Herpes simplex 2 is one of the two viruses that cause herpes. Herpes simplex 2 virus causes genital herpes, also known as herpes type 2. The other virus is known as herpes simplex 1 and causes orofacial herpes, also known as sores. Both herpes viruses can cause sores but the herpes simplex 2 causes sores in the genital area, unlike the herpes simplex 1 virus that causes sores in the facial area, mouth and neck.
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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.
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.
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Herpes Symptoms And Signs
In order to diagnose herpes, a health care provider can swab an area of visibly active herpes infection or, if symptoms arent active, a blood test can be given that measures the number of herpes antibodies present in the body. The antibodies dont indicate herpes itself, but rather show the immune systems response to the presence of the virus in the body. Its important to note that sometimes a swab can give false negative results since herpes lesions need to be large enough to yield enough detectable virus and if the outbreak is already healing it also may not be detected in a swab.
The most common herpes symptoms include:
- Developing either a single cold sore or cluster of multiple cold sores that form on the lips, inside the mouth, or on the genitals, buttocks and upper thighs.
- Sores can sometimes be severe, painful and rupture and cause fluid to be secreted out.
- Some herpes canker sores develop a thin, white coating and burn when touched while they healing.
- Around herpes cold sores, its common to feel pain, tenderness and other symptoms of a rash, such as redness or signs of swelling.
- Some people are able to tell before an outbreak if one is going to occur because they feel tingling, itchy sensations near the affected area.
- Some people develop other symptoms during herpes outbreaks that are similar to those caused by a cold or the flu. This may include fatigue, irritability, aches or a slight fever.
Treatment Options Available For You
Depending on where you are, there will be a variety of treatment options available to you. In the United States, youâll need a positive identification of the infection before a doctor will prescribe treatment. Your options include college campus health centers , local health clinics, your primary care physician or direct to lab services, such as STDAware.com.
If you think you may have an HSV 2 infection, contact our health counselors today and we will work to help you find a solution.
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How Does Herpes Simplex Spread
Herpes spreads through close contact with a person who has the infection. The virus can be found in skin and saliva. If you have herpes simplex, you are most likely to pass the virus to another person when you have sores. But you can infect someone else even if you have no symptoms. Healthcare providers call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
People may get HSV-1 through
- Touching a persons skin near the mouth.
- Sharing food utensils, lip balm or razors.
- If you receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, it may spread a herpes infection to your genitals.
People may get HSV-2 through
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
Treating A First Outbreak Of Herpes
A first outbreak of genital herpes can cause a long illness with severe genital sores and can also affect the nervous system. Even if your first episode of herpes is mild, you may have severe or prolonged symptoms later. For this reason, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone who has a first episode of genital herpes take antiviral drugs.
Almost everyone who has one episode of genital herpes caused by HSV-2 also has later breakouts of sores. Later episodes are less common if your case of genital herpes is due to an HSV-1 infection.
The frequency of genital herpes outbreaks slows down over time in many people.
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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.
Genital Herpes During Pregnancy
Prevention of neonatal herpes depends both on preventing acquisition of genital herpes during late pregnancy and avoiding exposure of the neonate to herpetic lesions and viral shedding during delivery. Mothers of newborns who acquire neonatal herpes often lack histories of clinically evident genital herpes . The risk for transmission to the neonate from an infected mother is high among women who acquire genital herpes near the time of delivery and low among women with prenatal histories of recurrent herpes or who acquire genital herpes during the first half of pregnancy . Women who acquire HSV in the second half of pregnancy should be managed in consultation with maternal-fetal medicine and infectious disease specialists.
All pregnant women should be asked whether they have a history of genital herpes or genital symptoms concerning for HSV infection. At the onset of labor, all women should be questioned thoroughly about symptoms of genital herpes, including prodromal symptoms , and all women should be examined thoroughly for herpetic lesions. Women without symptoms or signs of genital herpes or its prodrome can deliver vaginally. Although cesarean delivery does not eliminate the risk for HSV transmission to the neonate , women with recurrent genital herpetic lesions at the onset of labor should have a cesarean delivery to reduce the risk for neonatal HSV infection.
Acyclovir 400 mg orally 3 times/dayORValacyclovir 500 mg orally 2 times/day
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How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Herpes Simplex
During an outbreak, a dermatologist often can diagnose herpes simplex by looking at the sores. To confirm that a patient has herpes simplex, a dermatologist may take a swab from a sore and send this swab to a laboratory.
When sores are not present, other medical tests, such as blood tests, can find the herpes simplex virus.