What Should I Do If I Have Genital Herpes
If you have genital herpes:
- See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible for testing and treatment.
- Take all of the medicine. Even if symptoms go away, you need to finish all of the antiviral medicine.
- Tell your sex partner so they can be tested and treated if necessary.
- Avoid any sexual contact while you are being treated for genital herpes or while you have an outbreak.
- Remember that genital herpes is a lifelong disease. Even though you may not have a genital herpes outbreak for long periods of time, you can still pass the virus to another person at any time. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to prevent passing the virus to another person.
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How Do Dermatologists Treat Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. The good news is that sores often clear without treatment. Many people choose to treat herpes simplex because treatment can relieve symptoms and shorten an outbreak.
Most people are treated with an antiviral medicine. An antiviral cream or ointment can relieve the burning, itching, or tingling. An antiviral medicine that is oral or intravenous can shorten an outbreak of herpes.
Prescription antiviral medicines approved for the treatment of both types of herpes simplex include:
Taken daily, these medicines can lessen the severity and frequency of outbreaks. They also can help prevent infected people from spreading the virus.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
The early recognition of genital herpes, ideally during the prodromal stage, allows you to access treatments that can shorten the duration and severity of an outbreak.
Clearly, this can be difficult during your first outbreak, given that you probably wont be expecting it. But, over time, you will be better able to recognize the tell-tale signs and know when its time to act.
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Could I Have Genital Herpes And Not Know
Unless no one has ever kissed you, and unless youve never had sex, it is possible that youve picked up a herpes virus.
Oral herpes, usually caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 , shows up as cold sores or fever blisters on the mouth. Even a casual peck on the lips from someone with a cold sore can give you the virus. Thats why its so common: As many as 50% to 80% of adults in the U.S. have oral herpes.
Genital herpes, most often caused by the second type of herpes virus , is less common, but plenty of people still have it. Roughly one in five U.S. adults has genital herpes. But up to 90% of those who have it dont know they are infected. You could be one of them.
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.
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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.
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a recurrent outbreak. Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.
How do genital herpes first appear?
When symptoms occur, theyre usually worse during the first outbreak or flare-up . Symptoms typically appear within two to 20 days after infection. Active symptoms may last up to four weeks.
You may experience:
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Aciclovir Tablets And Liquid
Doses will vary, depending on why youâre taking aciclovir. Your doctor will tell you how much to take and how often.
A single dose is generally between 200mg and 800mg, and may be lower for children.
Youâll usually take aciclovir 2 to 5 times a day. Try to space the doses evenly throughout the day.
If you take aciclovir:
- 4 times a day you could take it first thing in the morning, at midday, in the late afternoon and at bedtime
- 5 times a day for example, you could take it at 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm
You can take aciclovir with or without food. Drink plenty of water while taking this medicine to help keep your kidneys working well.
Keep taking the medicine until itâs all finished or until your doctor or pharmacist tells you to stop taking it.
For treating a viral infection, youâll usually take aciclovir for 5 to 10 days. For prevention, you may need to take it for a long time.
Tablets: swallow the tablets whole with some water. If you find tablets difficult to swallow, you can dissolve them in water. Add a tablet to a small glass of water and stir. Drink all the liquid to make sure you get the full dose.
Liquid: use the measuring spoon or plastic syringe that came with your medicine. If you do not have a measuring spoon or syringe, ask your pharmacist for one. Do not use a kitchen teaspoon as you will not get the right amount of medicine.
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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How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other skin conditions like a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people do not know they have a herpes infection.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. This is known as having an outbreak. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Flu-like symptoms also may occur during the first outbreak.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they have HSV-2. However, repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although genital herpes is a lifelong infection, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
Ask a healthcare provider to examine you if:
- You notice any symptoms or
- Your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.
STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods .
Is It Possible To Prevent Cold Sores
The best way to prevent a herpes simplex infection is to avoid physical contact with someone elses cold sores. Items that touch the lips but cannot be washed or sanitized, such as lipstick or lip balm, should not be shared. During an outbreak, frequent hand washing and sanitizing with 60% ethanol-based hand sanitizer will help reduce the spread of the virus to other parts of the body or to other people. Wash hands immediately after applying topical treatments to a cold sore. L-lysine and other supplements have not been shown to consistently reduce outbreaks.
To prevent future outbreaks,
- avoid long periods of time in the sun and use sunblock on lips and face,
- reduce stress by getting adequate rest and relaxation,
- avoid trauma to the mouth or involved area, and
- take any antiviral medication exactly as prescribed.
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Symptoms Of Genital Herpes In Females
Getting a menstrual period can cause an outbreak of genital herpes.
Also, a person may mistake the symptoms of genital herpes for those of a yeast infection or bladder infection.
Genital herpes can spread in the following ways:
- receiving oral sex from a partner with a cold sore
- touching a herpes sore, then touching the genitals
- a baby can contract genital herpes during birth if the mother has the virus
People can sexually transmit the virus even if they have no visible symptoms.
It is not possible to contract genital herpes from toilet seats, bedding, swimming pools, or touching other objects. The virus can only spread from human-to-human contact.
How Does Aciclovir Cream Compare To Tablets
What are the pros of using tablets in comparison to creams?
- They treat more severe infections
- They are prescribed for both treating or preventing herpes recurrences
- They treat herpes infections inside the mouth and recurrent cold sore outbreaks
- Your doctor can adjust doses if you are unable to tolerate a dose or if your infection does not respond
What are the cons of using tablets in comparison to creams?
- You need a prescription to obtain them
- There is a higher risk of side effects especially in elderly people and those with kidney impairment
- There is a higher risk of interactions with other medicines
- They may cause drowsiness as a side effect that can affect your ability to drive or operate heavy machinery
- You should keep well hydrated by drinking plenty of water whilst taking them
You cannot swap the cream with tablets or vice versa the cream can only be applied to the skin to treat cold sores. Tablets can be used for recurrent cold sore outbreaks, herpes infections inside your mouth, genital herpes and more severe infections. Tablets are also prescribed to prevent the virus from spreading to other parts of the body where it can cause more severe infections in people with weak immune systems. There are also different dosages of the tablets available that are prescribed depending on how severe your infection is.
Where can I get aciclovir tablets or cream from? you can order your aciclovir tablets for genital herpes, or for cold sores using ZAVAs online doctor service:
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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 youre infected with the herpes virus.
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Topical Herpes Creams And Ointments
There is a range of effective over the counter products available including Abreva, Betadine, Lemon Balm and Zovirax.
Cold sores and other herpes symptoms are caused by a virus so be on the look out for active ingredients that are specifically antiviral such as Acyclovir, also the herbs Lemon Balm and Tea Tree oil.
Some creams and ointments have antiseptic properties like Abreva and the herb Lemon Balm . Although these do not usually act directly on the virus itself, they can help by warding off the infection that is caused by the virus and soothing the redness and inflammation.
Creams and ointments are usually indicated for facial herpes infections , so check with your Doctor before trying them on a genital infection.
Here we briefly discuss some of the topical treatment options that are available:
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Zovirax Topical Side Effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives difficult breathing swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Common side effects may include:
dry, cracked, or peeling lips
dryness or flaking of treated skin
burning, stinging, or itching when the medicine is applied.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Getting The Most From Your Treatment
- Try to keep the areas affected by blisters as clean and dry as possible and only touch the sores when you apply the cream.
- When you have a cold sore you should not kiss anyone or allow anyone to come into skin contact with the sore. In particular, avoid kissing newborn babies and anyone who has a poor immune system. When you have no symptoms, you are not usually infectious.
- Genital herpes simplex virus is very contagious when blisters are present. You should not have sex from the time your symptoms first start until they are fully over, as there is a high chance of passing on the virus.
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The Virus And Pathogenesis
HSV is a double-stranded DNA virus that may enter the host through abraded skin or intact mucous membranes.1 Epithelial cells are the initial targets. Once infected, these cells die, releasing clear fluid intradermally to form vesicles and merging with other cells to create multinucleated giant cells.
Retrograde transport through adjacent neural tissue to sensory ganglia leads to lifelong latent infection.1 Reactivation of the virus is triggered by local or systemic stimuli such as immunodeficiency, trauma, fever, menstruation, ultraviolet light and sexual intercourse.13 Although emotional stress is assumed to trigger HSV recurrence, recent research fails to show a definite causative role.4 Once reactivated, the virus is transported by the neuron back to the epithelium, where more replication occurs, and another outbreak ensues.
HSV exists as two separate types, labeled 1 and 2, which have affinities for different body sites.2 Ninety percent of infections caused by HSV-2 are genital, and 90 percent of those caused by HSV-1 are oral the reason for this division is unknown.5 In addition, oral HSV-1 infection recurs more frequently than oral HSV-2, and genital HSV-2 recurs more often than genital HSV-1.
What Are Genital Herpes Infections Like
The first herpes infection is usually the worst one. Genital herpes infections come back over and over again. The first time, you may have one sore or many sores. The sores are painful. Some may be hidden inside the urethra. The urethra is the tube that carries urine from your bladder. The sores make urination painful. Some people also have a fever, a sore throat, deep tiredness and body aches. These problems might last three weeks.
After the first infection, HSV sores can come back any time. They often come back when you are sick with something else and when your immune system isnt strong enough. Genital herpes might come back 4 to 6 times a year at first. After a few years, the herpes sores hurt less. They come back less often.
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Science Bit For Lomaherpan Treating Herpes:
Melissa officinalis contains molecules that block the receptor sites on the skin cells. This prevents the herpes virus getting into the cells where it multiplies. If you wish, you can use melissa oil or extract from an aromatherapy supplier .
5 gram tube.
There is also lemonbalm salve a chapstick formulation might be easier to apply?
Lemon balm was chosen after the makers tested other oils and found that lemon balm did the job best. So they just use lemon balm. Lomaherpan cream is widely used in Europe where lemon balm mint has an assessment report.
It used to be sold in UK chemists. Then this ceased. People whod used it and loved it asked us to find it so we added it to our shop. Each year we sell more, just on word of mouth and repeat orders.