Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster
Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.
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.
About Genital Herpes Treatment
Taking genital herpes treatment
Start taking Aciclovir as soon as you feel an outbreak starting.
Take 1 tablet 3 times a day for 5 days. Complete the course of treatment.
If you haven’t been diagnosed with herpes previously but think you may have herpes, use our .
Side effects of Aciclovir tablets
A small number of people will experience some side effects when taking Aciclovir, however these are generally mild and should pass quickly. These may include headache, dizziness, nausea, diarrhoea or tiredness.
For full information on side effects and correct use, see the patient information leaflet. If any side effects concern you, contact us via your Patient Record.
Effectiveness of Aciclovir tablets
This treatment is for acute outbreaks of genital herpes only.
If taken within 5 days of the start of an outbreak, Aciclovir should shorten your outbreak by 1-2 days and make the symptoms less severe. It might even prevent the outbreak if taken early enough.
There is no cure for herpes, so it may return. This treatment does not affect how often you get future outbreaks, or how severe they will be. However, you can minimise the inconvenience and discomfort of the outbreaks by considering herpes suppression treatment.
How genital warts treatment works
Aciclovir is an antiviral that works to prevent the herpes virus from multiplying. This reduces the severity of the infection.
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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:
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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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.
How Is Herpes Treated
There is no cure for the herpes simplex virus. The blisters usually heal and go by themselves, so you may not always need treatment. If treatment is needed, there are antiviral medicines which can help. These can shorten outbreaks, relieve discomfort and stop symptoms from getting worse.
The antiviral treatment is most effective when you take it within the first five days of symptoms appearing. Avoid touching the blisters as this can spread the infection. If treatment requires you to apply cream to a sore, gently pat the cream on, being careful not to rub around the surrounding area.
You can ease your symptoms by:
keeping the affected area clean using plain or salt water to prevent blisters or ulcers from becoming infected
applying petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, to any blisters or ulcers to reduce pain when passing urine
asking a healthcare provider to recommend painkilling creams
avoiding tight clothing because it may irritate the blisters and ulcers.
Donât have sex until you or your partner have finished your treatment, and the blisters or ulcers have gone. Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes and over time they tend to occur less often.
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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.
Targets Herpes Virus On The Skins Surface And Lower Layers
ProsurX is the ONLY topical that can target HSV1 & HSV2 both on the surface and lower layers of your skin. It is the first topical remedy for outbreaks that utilizes the power of nanomedicine.All other topical products are limited to killing only the virus on your skins surface. Our anti-viral agents solve that problem and eliminate any chance of recurrent outbreaks.By using only FDA-approved ingredients, we deeply care about becoming your best and only need for outbreak treatment. Your satisfaction is guaranteed we will promptly refund the entire purchase price if you are not completely satisfied.
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Can I Treat Herpes Simplex At Home
Avoiding known triggers, such as illness or stress, can help reduce how often you have herpes outbreaks.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-1 ?
- Over-the-counter creams such as L-lysine, benzocaine or docosanol .
- Applying ice to blisters or sores.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-2 ?
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep your genitals dry. Wear cotton or other nonsynthetic underpants and avoid tight-fitting clothes. Moist sores take longer to heal.
- Soak in a warm bath.
- Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain.
- Topical 1% or 2% lidocaine may be used as a topical analgesic.
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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What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body
The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.
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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.
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.
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Why Does Herpes Come Back
Once you get the herpes virus, it can stay in your body and cause outbreaks. Some people can have herpes for years before they know they have it, as an outbreak does not always happen straight away. The herpes simplex virus lays dormant in your body and can hide from your immune system, so it cannot fight it.
When you get herpes, it will only cause blisters in the same place. This means if you have genital herpes you will not get a cold sore. You can have recurrent outbreaks which means you get symptoms again. This might happen once every few years or more often. You can get suppressive treatment if you keep getting outbreaks, which can stop the number of outbreaks you get and the length of your outbreaks.
Should I Tell My Sexual Partner
Yes, you need to let your sexual partners know so they get tested. If you do not feel comfortable contacting them yourself, your sexual health clinic can contact them for you. They can send them a contact slip suggesting that they might have been exposed to a sexually transmitted infection and recommending that they go for a check-up. Your name will not be on the slip, although sometimes it states which infection they might have picked up.
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How Is Genital Herpes Spread
Genital herpes is usually transmitted by having sexual contact with someone who carries HSV. You can get genital herpes through direct contact with an infected blister or sore, usually through sexual contact. You can also transmit or get the virus when you or your partner have no symptoms present .
Most people who infect others don’t realise they are putting their partners at risk.
- Around 80% of people with genital herpes don’t know they have the virus because they have very mild symptoms or none at all.
- More than 75% of people who have genital herpes get it from people who are entirely unaware that they have it themselves.
Using condoms reduces your risk of passing on the virus by about 50%, but does not remove it completely.
You cannot catch genital herpes by sharing cups, towels or bath water, or from toilet seats. It can only be spread by close skin-to-skin contact.
HSV that causes genital herpes does not cause cervical cancer.
Should I Take Antiviral Pills For My Herpes
Reasons for choosing short course/episodic treatment:
Reasons for choosing suppression/prophylactic/long-term treatment:
See section above for the dosing.
Advertisement:There are now UK-based websites, such as MedExpress, which are authorised by the Care Quality Commission to sell aciclovir for treating genital herpes to diagnosed patients.
Beware: Many other websites advertise fake treatments or even cures. They may include testimonials and statements by people who claim to be doctors. They are scams. Do not be fooled.
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Counselling For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out that you have genital herpes, it is likely you will have a lot of questions. A diagnosis of genital herpes often comes as a shock.
For many people who have genital herpes, the physical symptoms are outweighed by the emotional stress relating to the diagnosis. There are many misconceptions about genital herpes, including the belief that it is associated with promiscuity.
Seeing a counsellor may be a good idea to discuss any concerns you may have. Counselling offers a way of dealing with your concerns.For more information see the NZ Herpes Foundation or talk with one of their trained counsellors on 0508 11 12 13 free call 0508 11 12 13 or 09 433 6526 .
How Can I Best Learn To Cope With Herpes Simplex
Some people feel distressed or embarrassed about their herpes simplex infection. Its important to understand that the herpes virus is common. For most people, herpes doesnt significantly interfere with daily life.
To cope with negative feelings, you may consider:
- Connecting with others through support groups or online forums.
- Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.
- Speaking with a therapist.
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