How Long Can Herpes Go Undetected
Once youve contracted HSV, there will be an incubation period the time it takes from contracting the virus until the first symptom appears.
The incubation period for HSV-1 and HSV-2 is the same: 2 to 12 days. For most people, the symptoms begin to show up in about 3 to 6 days.
However, according to the
Symptoms Of Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is most often caused by HSV-1, but can also be caused by HSV-2. It usually affects the lips and, in some primary attacks, the mucous membranes in the mouth. A herpes infection may occur on the cheeks or in the nose, but facial herpes is very uncommon.
Primary Oral Herpes Infection
If the primary oral infection causes symptoms, they can be very painful, particularly in children. Symptoms include:
- Tingling, burning, or itching around the mouth are the first signs.
- Red, fluid-filled blisters that may form on the lips, gums, mouth, and throat.
- Blisters that break open and leak. As they heal, they turn yellow and crusty, eventually turning into pink skin. The sores last 10 to 14 days and can be very uncomfortable.
- Blisters that may be preceded or accompanied by sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and painful swallowing.
Recurrent Oral Herpes Infection
A recurrent oral herpes infection is much milder than the primary outbreak. It usually manifests as a single sore, commonly called a cold sore or fever blister . The sore usually shows up on the outer edge of the lips and rarely affects the gums or throat.
Are There Oral Herpes Home Remedies
- Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration.
- Avoid physical contact with the lesions and any lesion secretions.
For mild infections, self-care may be adequate for treatment. Other treatments termed “home remedies” are not considered cures but can ease or hasten recovery. These remedies include aloe vera gel, cornstarch paste, and tea or mint leaves. A cool compress may reduce pain. There is no cure for the infection. People with severe infection symptoms, especially children, should be evaluated by a medical caregiver.
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How Long Does It Take For Symptoms Of Herpes To Appear
It generally takes anywhere from 4 to 7 days for herpes symptoms to appear. Both genital and oral herpes outbreaks have similar symptoms.
The primary symptom of a herpes outbreak is sores that resemble blisters, called herpes lesions, on the mouth or genitals.
In addition, people may also experience the following symptoms prior to the outbreak:
- pain and redness, especially around the area the outbreak will occur
- itching and tingling, primarily in the outbreak area
- flu-like symptoms, such as fatigue, fever, or swollen lymph nodes
Most of the symptoms that occur before an outbreak indicate that the virus is replicating. Symptoms are usually the worst during the first herpes outbreak.
According to the
Some people with the herpes virus are asymptomatic, which means that they dont experience any physical symptoms of the disease. This doesnt mean that they cant spread the disease, however.
Anyone who has the herpes virus, whether symptomatic or not, can spread the virus to others.
If you have the herpes virus and your body has produced antibodies, it can be detected on a blood test, even if you have no symptoms. The only time the virus might not be detected on a test is if youve been tested too early.
Can Certain Stds Lie Dormant And Not Be Detected
In some cases, an STD may be asymptomatic because its latent, or lying dormant in your body. Latent STDs can cause someone to remain undiagnosed until symptoms begin to appear. This may put them at risk for long-term complications.
Chlamydia, hepatitis C, HIV, HSV , and syphilis can all have periods of latency.
The best way to ensure that dormant STDs receive the proper diagnosis and treatment is regular STD screening. The CDC recommends that all sexually active adults with new or multiple sexual partners receive at least yearly testing for most STDs, especially chlamydia and gonorrhea.
Its also recommended that people who have sex without a condom or other barrier method receive STD testing more frequently.
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When To See A Doctor
People should see their doctor if they think they might have herpes, or if they have any symptoms of herpes. Getting tested for herpes is also important to rule out other sexually transmitted infections.
People can visit their doctor or a sexual health clinic for a test. If people have any sores or blisters present, a healthcare provider will use a swab to take a sample from the sores. The sample will indicate whether or not the sores are due to a herpes infection.
Some people may be concerned that they have the herpes virus but no symptoms. In such cases, a doctor might be able to order a blood test to check for the virus in a persons blood. However, the
Benefits Of Early Detection And Treatment
If you think you may have an STD, its important to stop engaging in sexual activity and seek treatment. Early detection and treatment of STDs plays an important role in stopping the transmission of STDs between yourself, your sexual partners, and their sexual partners. In some cases, it can even save your life.
Some of the potential risks of untreated STDs include:
- pregnancy and birth-related risks, from untreated bacterial STDs, HIV, and hepatitis B
- organ damage, dementia, paralysis, or death, from untreated syphilis
Taking care of your sexual health is important. Not everyone will voluntarily disclose their STD status to you. You can take control of your sexual health by asking questions, screening new sexual partners, and having open and honest discussions about sexually transmitted diseases.
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Can Herpes Play Dead
Herpes outbreaks vary from person to person. The average number of outbreaks for someone with HSV-1 is less than one a year, while those with HSV-2 might have 4 to 5 episodes. While thats the average, peeps can go years without any issues.
When you dont have any noticeable symptoms, the virus is in a dormant stage.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You can still contract or transmit herpes even if the virus is dormant thanks to viral shedding. But, its easier to spread via a wet lesion because the fluid transmits it more effectively.
While the chances are slim, you CAN transmit herpes during the incubation period. Also, an estimated 90 percent of folks with herpes dont realize they have it. So you might not know when youre actually incubating.
When Can You Get Tested For Herpes
If you run to the clinic the day after a possible transmission event, your results might not be legit. Herpes antibodies wont show up until youre out of the incubation period . But you dont have to wait to be tested if you already have symptoms.
If youre worried you came in contact with HSV, here are some tips:
- Stop all sexual activity until you know for sure you dont have herpes.
- Schedule an appointment with your doctor or a clinic once the incubation period is over.
- Remember, everything is going to be OK . Even if you have herpes, its nothing to be ashamed of.
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Suppressive Therapy For Recurrences
To suppress outbreaks, treatment requires taking pills daily on a long-term basis. Acyclovir and famciclovir are taken twice a day for suppression. Valacyclovir is taken once a day. The doses for these antiviral drugs are reduced in people with impaired renal function.
Suppressive treatment can reduce the frequency of outbreak recurrences by 70% to 80%. It is generally recommended for people who have frequent recurrences . Because herpes recurrences often diminish over time, you should discuss annually with your provider whether you should stay with drug therapy or discontinue it.
There is some evidence that valacyclovir may help prevent herpes transmission, particularly in situations where one heterosexual partner has HSV-2 and the other partner does not. However, this drug does not completely prevent transmission. While taking any suppressive therapy for genital herpes, it is still important to regularly use latex condoms and to avoid any sexual activity during recurrences.
Risk For Genital Herpes
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , about 1 in 6 Americans ages 14 to 49 years have genital herpes. While HSV-2 remains the main cause of genital herpes, HSV-1 has significantly increased as a cause, most likely because of oral-genital sex. Except for people in monogamous relationships with uninfected partners, everyone who is sexually active is at risk for genital herpes.
Risk factors for genital herpes include:
- History of an STD
- First sexual intercourse at an early age
- High number of sexual partners
- Low socioeconomic status
Women are more susceptible to HSV-2 infection because herpes is more easily transmitted from men to women than from women to men. About 1 in 5 women, compared to 1 in 9 men, have genital herpes. African-American women are at particularly high risk.
People with compromised immune systems, such as those who have HIV, are at very high risk for genital herpes. These people are also at risk for more severe complications from herpes. Drugs that suppress the immune system, and organ transplantation, can also weaken the immune system and increase the risk for contracting genital herpes.
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What You Need To Know
- Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes.
- Oral herpes can be spread through intimate contact with someone who is infected.
- Oral herpes can be difficult to diagnose. Often confused with many other infections, it can only be confirmed with a virus culture called PCR, blood test or biopsy. PCR is the preferred test for diagnosing herpes infections.
- The best treatment for oral herpes is antiviral oral medication. Symptomatic treatment may include antiviral ointment, over-the-counter topical anesthetics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents.
Whether you call it a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.
Once infected, a person will have herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. When inactive, the virus lies dormant in a group of nerve cells. While some people never develop any symptoms from the virus, others will have periodic outbreaks of infections.
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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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.
Herpes Tests & Diagnosis
Depending on where you are in the stage of exposure or infection, your medical provider may perform an examination or run tests to provide an accurate diagnosis.
- Physical examination: If you have active sores, your doctor may examine them to determine if they appear like HSV-1 or HSV-2 sores.
- Fluid sample: If you have active sores, your medical provider may swab a sore and send the fluid to the laboratory for testing, which can confirm that it is caused by either HSV-1 or HSV-2.
- Blood tests: If you do not have any active sores or other specific physical signs of herpes simplex, your doctor can order blood tests to identify viral antibodies to confirm a diagnosis.
If you are diagnosed with HSV-1 or HSV-2, your doctor may be able to prescribe antiviral medication to shorten an active outbreak or help alleviate symptoms.
They may also recommend over-the-counter antiviral creams or other products to provide pain relief.
Some medications, when taken orally or applied topically, can prevent outbreaks if used at the first sign of a sore, such as the initial feelings of tingling that precede the formation of a sore.
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How Do People Get Genital Herpes
Infections are transmitted through contact with HSV in herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. 5 HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be shed from normal-appearing oral or genital mucosa or skin. 7,8 Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However, receiving oral sex from a person with an oral HSV-1 infection can result in getting a genital HSV-1 infection. 4 Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected. 7 In persons with asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, genital HSV shedding occurs on 10.2% of days, compared to 20.1% of days among those with symptomatic infections. 8
Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
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What Are The Complications Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes may cause painful genital ulcers that can be severe and persistent in persons with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV-infected persons. 5 Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also cause rare but serious complications such as aseptic meningitis . 5 Development of extragenital lesions may occur during the course of infection. 5
There are also potential complications for a pregnant woman and her newborn child. See How does herpes infection affect a pregnant woman and her baby? below for information about this.
Type Of Tests Used To Diagnose Herpes
There are four main types of diagnostic tests that can be used to diagnose herpes. Your doctor will determine which type of test to use based on whether an outbreak is present or not.
If youre experiencing what you believe to be a herpes outbreak, your doctor can use a viral culture test or virus antigen detection test. If youre not experiencing symptoms, you can have an antibody test.
- Viral culture test.This test is used to determine if a sore contains the herpes virus. This test can sometimes produce a false-negative, meaning that it may not detect the virus even though its present.
- Virus antigen detection test. This test is used to determine if antigens to the herpes virus are present in a sore or lesion.
- Antibody test. If youre not experiencing an outbreak yet but still believe you may have been exposed, you can opt to have an antibody test performed. This test will only show a positive result if the antibodies to the virus have been developed. Therefore, this test isnt necessarily recommended for recent exposure.
- Polymerase chain reaction test. With this test, a healthcare provider can screen a sample of your blood or tissue from a sore. They can use this to determine if HSV is present and which type you have.
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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 Can Oral Herpes Be Diagnosed
Oral herpes can be diagnosed by a healthcare provider by observing the oral changes. At times, a sample of the sore is taken and sent to a laboratory for closer examination.
Tests may include:
Lumbar puncture for HSV infections of the brain and spinal cord.
Other tests –
Viral deoxyribonucleic acid test.
Tzanck test to check for HSV.
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Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Primary Genital Herpes Outbreak
For people with symptoms, the first outbreak usually occurs in or around the genital area 2 days to 2 weeks after sexual exposure to the virus. The first signs are a tingling sensation in the affected areas and groups of small red bumps that develop into blisters. Over the next 2 to 3 weeks, more blisters can appear and rupture into painful open sores. The lesions eventually dry out, develop a crust, and heal rapidly without leaving a scar. Blisters in moist areas heal more slowly than those in dry areas. The sores may sometimes itch, but itching decreases as they heal.
About 40% of men and 70% of women develop other symptoms during initial outbreaks of genital herpes, such as flu-like discomfort, headache, muscle aches, and fever. Swollen glands may occur in the groin area or neck. Some women may have difficulty urinating and may, occasionally, require a urinary catheter. Women may also experience vaginal discharge.
Recurrent Genital Herpes Outbreak
In general, recurrences are much milder than the initial outbreak. The virus sheds for a much shorter period of time compared to an initial outbreak of 3 weeks. Women may have only minor itching, and the symptoms may be even milder in men.