Switch Medications If Necessary
Acyclovir is another antiviral drug that can be used to treat herpes virus and varicella-zoster virus infections. Neither medication is better than the other, but if someone cant tolerate Valtrex or has an underlying medical condition that prevents them from taking it, acyclovir is another good option. You can compare the medications here.
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.
First And Subsequent Episodes
The first genital herpes outbreak will generally be worse than the ones that follow. During a first outbreak, the appearance of lesions will often be accompanied by:
- Pain or burning with urination
- Unusual vaginal discharge
Subsequent attacks tend to be shorter and less severe. They are often preceded by genital pain or shooting pain in the legs, hip, or buttocks several hours or days before the attack.
Over time, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease and become less severe.
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Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
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.
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Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
How Is Herpes Simplex Treated
Some people have few to no herpes outbreaks and choose not to have treatment. But many people prefer to use medications that shorten outbreaks and reduce symptoms.
During an outbreak, you may use an antiviral ointment or cream to help lessen your symptoms and help them go away faster, but it only works if you start it soon after you start an outbreak. Many people with HSV-2 take daily oral medications to keep outbreaks at bay.
Your provider may prescribe a topical medication or oral medication such as:
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Other Uses For This Medicine
Acyclovir is also sometimes used to treat eczema herpeticum to treat and prevent herpes infections of the skin, eyes, nose, and mouth in patients with human immunodeficiency virus , and to treat oral hairy leukoplakia .
This medication may be prescribed for other uses ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
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Is Genital Herpes Infection Related To Hiv
Herpes and HIV are caused by different viruses. But patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more vulnerable to HIV infection. People newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
Patients who are infected with both herpes and HIV also may have a higher concentration of HIV viruses in their body because of the interaction between the herpes virus and the HIV virus. When HIV damages a persons immune system, the person may be more likely to shed herpes simplex virus asymptomatically.
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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.
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Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus , which causes chickenpox earlier in life. The natural history of varicella zoster infection is similar to genital herpes infection in that VZV also becomes latent in the sensory nerve roots. Later in life the virus may exit, causing shingles.
Recurrences in shingles cause blister lesions in a single area of skin called a dermatome. Shingles is not a sexually transmitted infection and is independent from genital herpes.
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Chance Of Herpes Transmission With And Without Protection
This table presents statistics on herpes transmission with and without protection . Please notice that using protection significantly reduces the risk.
The percentages mentioned bellow are general estimates and may vary from person to person based on immune system strength , skin condition , and race .
|Chance of transmission|
How Far Away Is A Cure For Herpes
Theres currently no cure for herpes, but that might change in the future.
According to 2020 research published in Nature, scientists from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center removed 90 percent of the HSV-1 virus from cells in mice using gene editing.
However, it takes time to transition potential treatments from animals to humans. In a 2020 news article, one of the researchers that authored the Nature paper estimated that it would be at least 3 years before human trials.
Scientists are also researching the possibility of creating a vaccine to prevent herpes. A 2022 study outlined a new approach to developing an mRNA vaccine for herpes. The vaccine mentioned in the study worked well in mice and guinea pigs.
The researchers say that theyre aiming to conduct human trials before the end of 2022, and the vaccine could be available within the next 10 years.
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How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.
If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.
Should You Get Tested
Its a good idea for the partners of people with genital herpes to have a blood test for herpes antibodies. This can help them to decide whether to use antiviral medication as protection, for example. Both partners may already have the same virus type. Then theres no reason to take medication to protect each other.
If one of the partners has HSV-1 or cold sores and the other one has HSV-2 or genital herpes, they could infect one another with the other virus. If one partner has herpes viruses in their body and the other doesnt, condoms are one way to prevent infection.
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Where Can I Get Medications For Herpes
The most common antiviral medications used to manage herpes simplex symptoms are available by prescription. If you have symptoms such as a cold sore or genital herpes, call your doctors office. They will first diagnose if you have herpes simplex. Then they will prescribe an appropriate medication to manage your symptoms.
Only docosanol is an antiviral medication available over the counter as a cream to manage oral symptoms such as cold sores or fever blisters.
- pain relievers such ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with pain
- cold compress or ice to soothe burning or itching
- zinc oxide topical cream, which may help soothe itching or burning
Before trying over the counter medications or supplements, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist about your symptoms.
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.
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Is Valtrex Better Than Zovirax Or Famvir
For the treatment of genital herpes outbreaks, Valtrex, , and appear to be equally effective. Zovirax is only approved to treat initial and recurrent outbreaks. Compared to Famvir, Valtrex appears to be more effective at suppressing viral shedding when taken daily. Of the three medications, Valtrex is the only one approved for reducing the transmission of genital herpes.
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Valtrex For Genital Herpes
Even if youre taking Valtrex, its still possible to have an outbreak. If youre taking Valtrex for recurrent genital herpes and have an outbreak, its important to avoid sexual contact with your partner to keep the virus from spreading to them. Even if youre not experiencing an outbreak, using condoms is a good idea to prevent transmission.
Also, if youre wondering if your uninfected partner can take Valtrex to avoid becoming affected, the answer is no. Someone without herpes simplex virus shouldnt take medication for something they dont have. This could cause serious side effects or health problems.
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Women Who Dont Have Genital Herpes
The greatest risk of neonatal herpes is to babies whose mothers contract a genital infection late in pregnancy. While this is a rare occurrence, it does happen, and can cause a serious, even life-threatening, illness for the baby. The best way you can protect your baby is to know the facts about HSV and how to protect yourself. The first step may be finding out whether you already carry the virus.
You can talk to your healthcare provider about testing for genital herpes. If you test negative for genital herpes, but your partner has genital or oral herpes, you may acquire it unless you take steps to prevent transmission. The following steps can help protect you from getting an infection during pregnancy:
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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.
Is One Type Of Herpes More Easily Spread Than Another
No, not really.
Both HSV1 and HSV2 can be easily transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. HSV1 tends to prefer locations above the waist, such as the mouth, and HSV2 tends to prefer locations below the waist, such as the genitals, but both can also be easily spread to other parts of the body.
Both types are most contagious during active outbreaks when visual symptoms are present but they are also commonly spread when there are no recognizable symptoms through asymptomatic shedding.
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, it is very important for you to go to prenatal care visits. Tell your doctor if you have ever had symptoms of, or have been diagnosed with, genital herpes. Also tell your doctor if you have ever been exposed to genital herpes. There is some research that suggests that genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage, or could make it more likely for you to deliver your baby too early.
Herpes infection can be passed from you to your unborn child before birth but is more commonly passed to your infant during delivery. This can lead to a potentially deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting herpes during pregnancy. If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, you may be offered anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes at the time of delivery. At the time of delivery, your doctor should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have herpes symptoms at delivery, a C-section is usually performed.
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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.
Can Valtrex Prevent Herpes Transmission
While there is no cure for HSV-2, there are medications that treat and can shorten outbreaks, as well as daily treatment to reduce asymptomatic shedding and likelihood of transmission.
In the same New England Journal of Medicine study, 743 of the 1,484 couples were instructed to have the infected partner take 500 mg of Valtrex daily. They were also educated on using condoms for protection. Only 14 became infected with the virus, 4 of whom developed an outbreak. This is compared to 27 in the placebo group who became infected.
The results of the study showed that taking Valtrex 500 mg daily led to a reduction in the transmission of gential HSV-2 to the uninfected partner.
While the addition of daily Valtrex can be helpful in reducing transmission of HSV-2, it has not been studied for this purpose in those with genital lesions due to HSV-1, the herpes simplex virus most commonly associated with cold sores on and around your mouth. Although HSV-2 makes up most of the recurrent genital herpes cases, there is an increasing number due to HSV-1 because of transmission through oral sex.
For people who have nine or fewer recurrences of an HSV-2 outbreak per year, the dosage of Valtrex is typically 500 mg daily. For those who have more frequent outbreaks, kidney problems, or a weakened immune system, dosing may be adjusted.
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