Can The Herpes Virus Spread If There Are No Symptoms
The herpes virus can occasionally be spread when there are no symptoms due to a phenomena known as Viral Shedding.
It is possible for a person to carry the herpes virus without knowing that they have it, in fact, up to 80% of people who are infected with HSV-2 show no signs of the infection. So it is possible for a person to unwittingly transmit the infection to their partner.
How Is Genital Herpes Spread
- Saliva from a partner with an oral herpes infection
- Genital fluids from a partner with a genital herpes infection
- Skin in the oral area of a partner with oral herpes or
- Skin in the genital area of a partner with genital herpes.
You also can get genital herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or is unaware of their infection. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a partner with oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. You also will not get it from touching objects, such as silverware, soap, or towels.
If you have more questions about herpes, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
How Is Genital Herpes Diagnosed
Often, your doctor can diagnose genital herpes by looking at visible sores. Your doctor or nurse may also use a cotton swab to take a fluid sample from a sore to test in a lab.
Genital herpes can be hard to diagnose, especially between outbreaks. Blood tests that look for antibodies to the herpes virus can help diagnose herpes in women without symptoms or between outbreaks.
A Pap test is not used to detect genital herpes.
You May Like: Can You Breastfeed With Herpes
Herpes Myths To Stop Freaking Out About
A surprising number of people you know probably have herpes.
Shocked? You shouldnt be, since the virus is very common. According to the World Health Organization, 3.7 billion people under age 50 have herpes simplex virus type 1 thats 67 percent of the global population in that age bracket. Another 417 million people between ages 15 and 49 worldwide have herpes simplex virus type 2 .
Many people consider HSV-1 more benign, but it turns out theres not much difference between the two types of virus. While its true that HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause genital sores or blisters, type 1 can do the same thing.
One big misconception is that cold sores are caused by HSV-1 and genital herpes are always type 2, but thats not always the case, says Sarah Vensel, a physician assistant in San Francisco. Cold sores are so common theyve been normalized at this point. But genital herpes is sometimes the exact same virus just in a different location.
Not only is herpes incredibly common its also totally manageable. Allow us to set your mind at ease and debunk three widespread herpes myths:
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You may want to ask your healthcare provider:
- What is the best treatment for me?
- What happens if I dont treat a cold sore?
- What are the side effects of antiviral medications?
- How can I reduce the risk of future outbreaks?
- Whats the best way to prevent getting another STI?
- How can I protect my partner from getting genital herpes?
- Should I lookout for signs of complications?
Recommended Reading: Are There Dating Sites For People With Herpes
Limitations Of The Data
Keep in mind that more research is needed. For one, the above study focus on couples who have been together a while. The data for brand new couples could differ. Plus, the Valtrex study above look at HSV-2 specifically. Of course, many cases of genital herpes these days are tied to HSV-1. And finally, there is no data available about same-sex couples. Keep these limitations in mind when looking at the data.
Should I Tell My Partner That I Have Hsv
Discussing health issues isnt sexy, but it may be necessary. There are a few things to keep in mind when deciding how to talk about HSV-1.
Nearly half of Americans have been exposed to HSV-1 by their 20s. The person youre kissing may have already been in contact with the virus. If you dont have any symptoms, the chance youll spread it by kissing is relatively low, notes Dr. Anthony which is why he wouldnt start off talking about it with someone new.
As intimacy progresses, especially to oral-genital contact, you can give your partner a heads up by saying something like: I had cold sores in the past. I dont have any now. Together, you can make decisions about what you feel comfortable doing based on risk.
Having an active outbreak makes talking about it doubly important since youre much more likely to spread it. Also, having open sores makes you more susceptible to acquiring a sexually transmitted disease like HIV from your partner.
Open and honest communication can help protect you and your partner from catching an illness, says Dr. Anthony.
You May Like: What Does Oral Herpes Look Like
Also Check: How To Tell If I Have Genital Herpes
Can I Give Herpes To My Children
No this will not happen. Parents do not need to worry about passing on their genital herpes to children because it is caught through direct skin contact with the affected place when symptoms are present and not from hands or objects. Even sharing a bath with small children is not a problem because herpes simplex virus is not transmitted in water.
Parents do not pass on genital herpes to their children through the normal activities of family life. Do not allow a fear of transmission to get in the way of ordinary family touching, hugging, sharing, etc.
Beds: herpes simplex virus is never transmitted on sheets.
Is herpes on my laundry? No it dies too fast. You can wash clothes together in the same machine, even when a person has a recurrence.
Bathing or showering together will not transmit herpes simplex virus the same is true for Jacuzzis and swimming pools. A child brushing against your upper thighs or abdomen while you have a recurrence wont catch the virus.
Even if you have used the toilet or you have touched the genital area and forgotten to wash your hands, this is not a problem. This virus is fragile and dies when it leaves living cells.
Washing with ordinary soap and water is clean enough theres no need to use any special hand or toilet seat sanitisers.
Children do all sorts of odd things that you cant anticipate, but even if they put your worn knickers on their head they are not going to contract the herpes virus relax and laugh with them.
Could I Pass Herpes Simplex To A Partner If I Have No Symptoms
This sometimes happens but is not likely. When the virus is inactive inside the nerve cells it cannot be caught by a partner. If there is virus on the skin surface where you get your symptoms, it may be passed on.
Before the outbreak begins, there may be a tingly or itchy feeling at the place where this will happen. This means that diagnosed people are less likely to pass it on when there is nothing to see on the skin, because they are usually more aware of these prodromes , whereas undiagnosed people often ignore highly infectious and obvious symptoms, because they do not know what they are. This is not asymptomatic as you can feel something and you should not have sex at this time.
Asymptomatic shedding means without sensation and a scientific test can virus on the skin when the person feels nothing. This applies to type 2. Type 1 doesnt like the genital region and is less likely to recur and to shed asymptomatically. This happens only in some people, mostly in the first six months. After a year or two, if a person is not having many outbreaks, they will rarely have virus on the skin without symptoms.
Recommended Reading: What To Take To Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
How To Prevent Herpes
But most people have sex at some point in their lives, so knowing how to have safer sex is important. Using protection like condoms and dental dams when you have sex helps to lower your risk of getting an STD.
Herpes can live on areas of your body that arent protected by condoms , so condoms wont always protect you from herpes. But they do lower your chances of getting herpes.
Dont have sex with anyone during a herpes outbreak, because thats when it spreads most easily. But herpes can also spread when there are no sores or symptoms, so its important to use condoms and dental dams, even if everything looks and feels A-OK.
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Most individuals infected with HSV are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed or are mistaken for another skin condition. 9 When symptoms do occur, herpes lesions typically appear as one or more vesicles, or small blisters, on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The average incubation period for an initial herpes infection is 4 days after exposure. 10 The vesicles break and leave painful ulcers that may take two to four weeks to heal after the initial herpes infection. 5,10 Experiencing these symptoms is referred to as having a first herpes outbreak or episode.
Donât Miss: Do Normal Std Tests Check For Herpes
Don’t Miss: Where To Get Blood Test For Herpes
How Can I Tell If Its Scabies Or Herpes
Scabies is caused by tiny eight-legged mites that burrow into the skin to live, feed, and lay their eggs. There are millions of cases of scabies worldwide each year.
Herpes may be confused with scabies because both conditions can cause a skin rash of small, itchy bumps and blisters that spread through person-to-person contact. As with herpes, the scabies skin rash is sometimes seen in the genital area. It can be transmitted through close physical or sexual contact because the mites can move from one body to another. If youâve never had scabies before, it can take two to six weeks to develop symptoms after the mites move in.
Unlike herpes, you can also get scabies from bedding, clothes, or furniture thatâs infested with mites, since the mites can live for about three to four days without being on a human.
Also unlike herpes, scabies is most commonly found on the hands, arms, and legs, and the most common symptom is severe itching that occurs mainly at night.
Your dermatologist can tell if you have scabies by examining your skin or looking at a small piece of skin under a microscope, notes the American Academy of Dermatology.
Scabies is easily treated with a medicated cream or lotion that kills the mites.
What Happens If I Dont Receive Treatment
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? for information about this.
Recommended Reading: How To Handle Herpes Outbreak
How Likely Is It That Ill Get Herpes From My Partner
Staying in a relationship where you are negative and they are positive seems like playing with fire.
But theres something to be said for someone who knows they have herpes and knows how to manage it versus someone who has herpes and doesnt know and has never been tested.
Eric M. Garrison, a clinical sexologist, told Primer: When a person living with herpes knows everything about herpes and can comfort themselves and educate their partners, when they can know their prodrome and understand what that means, when they are aware of what can trigger their outbreaks, then sex with them can be less risky than sex with a partner who may or may not know their status.
A herpes prodrome are signs that an outbreak is about to happen. Herpes prodrome include itchiness, tingling, burning, numbness, aches, shooting pains, and other sensations and can appear 30 minutes to a couple of days before an outbreak. When prodrome is present, it means the virus is active and the chances of transmission are high.
Is the risk higher than being in a relationship with someone who is confirmed negative? Obviously yes.
But is it realistic to only be in relationships with people who have been recently tested for herpes? No. Wise? Yes. Likely? No.
That being said, youll never reduce your risk of contracting herpes from a partner down to zero. But you can get it pretty damn close.
There are three ways to reduce the risk of transmission.
What Is Herpes Simplex
Herpes simplex is a virus that causes skin infections. The infection lasts your lifetime, and it causes painful or itchy sores and blisters that come and go. Herpes simplex virus typically doesnt cause severe problems. But it can be dangerous in infants and people with weakened immune systems. There are two types of herpes simplex:
- Herpes simplex 1 tends to affect your mouth or face. It causes cold sores. HSV-1 spreads through contact with saliva .
- Herpes simplex 2 is a sexually transmitted disease . It causes sores on skin that comes in contact with the genitals of an infected person.
Sometimes a herpes infection can affect other parts of your body, such as your eyes or other parts of your skin.
Also Check: Why Cant Herpes Be Cured
If Someone With Herpes Has No Sores Can It Still Be Passed On
If someone has herpes but no sores, can it still be passed on to another person? Spence*
Yes. Even when no sores are present, the herpes is still active in the body and can spread to others.
If you or your partner has herpes, reduce the risk of spread by:
- using a condom every time you have sex . The herpes virus can live outside of the area that a condom covers, though, so a condom may not always prevent the spread.
- avoiding sex during outbreaks
- making sure the infected person takes antiviral medicine every day as prescribed by the health care provider
- *Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
What Is The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Genital Warts
Both genital herpes and genital warts are STIs, are spread through skin-to-skin contact, and are caused by a virus. But the viruses that cause genital herpes and genital warts are different:
- Herpes simplex virus is the virus that causes genital herpes.
- Human papillomavirus is the virus that causes genital warts.
There is no cure for either genital herpes or genital warts. But, different medicines can help manage the symptoms of herpes and treat the complications of HPV infections that can cause genital warts.
Don’t Miss: How Bad Is Genital Herpes
Can You Test Negative For Herpes And Still Have It
A negative viral culture or PCR result could mean you dont have genital herpes. But in some cases, a person could still have genital herpes and a negative result. Thats likely due to other factors related to how much virus there is in the sores. You dont need to do anything to prepare for these tests.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
- If you get genital herpes during pregnancy, you can spread genital herpes to your baby during delivery.
- If you had genital herpes before pregnancy, your baby is still at risk of getting herpes, but the risk is lower.
Most women with genital herpes have healthy babies. But babies who get herpes from their mother have neonatal herpes. Neonatal herpes is a serious condition that can cause problems in a newborn baby such as brain damage, eye problems, or even death.
Don’t Miss: Over Counter Medicine For Genital Herpes
What Does Genital Herpes Look Like
While some people with genital herpes will never have any symptoms, other people can develop symptoms within a few weeks of being infected.
Often, before the lesions appear, patients describe a prodrome, characterized by a tingling or burning sensation in the area where the lesions will develop that can be noticed during urination, along with itching or discomfort in the genital area.
You can also have the following symptoms:
- Blisters on the mouth or lips
- Fever, headache or pain in the joints
- Trouble urinating
The symptoms of genital herpes often go away and come back as recurring outbreaks. For most people, the first outbreak is the worst, and can last from two to three weeks. Future flare-ups are often less severe and do not last as long. Still, some people shed the virus regularly. The following triggers can make outbreaks more likely to occur:
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Menstrual periods
Recurrent genital herpes is most common in the first year after the initial infection and decreases as time goes on.
In many cases, anti-herpes medicine can help patients. When a person experiences a prodrome and suspects a recurrence is going to happen, they begin taking anti-herpes medications that lessen symptoms and shorten the time of the outbreak.
Should You Tell A Partner You Have Herpes
Definitely. Disclose your HSV status to anyone youre getting involved with. I encourage everyone to share their diagnosis with their partners so that everyone can make the healthiest decisions for themselves, Melody A. Baldwin, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, tells Health.
Thats the moral part of the equation. Then theres the legal part, says Terri Warren, an adult nurse practitioner and spokesperson for the American Sexual Health Association. There are so many lawsuits of people suing someone else for giving them herpes, says Warren, also the founder of Westover Research Group in Portland, Oregon. You dont want that to be you.
Don’t Miss: Can You Stop Herpes Before It Starts