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.
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.
What Does Genital Herpes Look Like In Men
Genital herpes looks no different in men than in people of any sex. The spontaneous outbreak of blisters accompanied by pain is the classic tell-tale sign of this common viral infection.
Even so, the symptoms can vary from one person to the next. An outbreak may involve only one sore or a dense cluster of sores. Some cases will be subclinical , while others can be severe and physically debilitating.
While it may seem reasonable to assume that the signs and symptoms of genital herpes are pretty obvious, the variations in symptoms can occasionally lead to misdiagnoses.
Specialist evaluation and testing are sometimes needed to differentiate genital herpes from conditions with similar symptoms, such as:
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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.
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.
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Ruling Out Conditions That Resemble Oral Herpes
Simple canker sores are often confused with the cold sores of HSV-1. Canker sores frequently crop up singly or in groups on the inside of the mouth, or on or underneath the tongue. Their cause is unknown, and they are common in perfectly healthy people. They are usually white or grayish crater-like ulcers with a sharp edge and a red rim. They usually heal within 2 weeks without treatment.
This aphthous ulcer is located in front of and just below the bottom teeth.
Oral candidiasis is a yeast infection that causes a whitish overgrowth in the mouth. It is most common in infants, but can appear in people of all ages, particularly people taking antibiotics or those with impaired immune systems.
Other conditions that may be confused with oral herpes include herpangina , sore throat caused by strep or other bacteria, and infectious mononucleosis.
What Typically Triggers Cold Sore Outbreaks
If you were diagnosed with the herpes simplex virus, especially type 1 , cold sore outbreaks may be common. While the virus may remain dormant during certain periods, when its triggered, you can expect to see cold sores.
While some people believe that food can trigger cold sore outbreaks, environmental factors are more likely to trigger an outbreak than anything else.
Exposure to hot sun, cold wind, a cold, or other illness is usually the cause of an unexpected cold sore outbreak. Fluctuating hormones might also be to blame.
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Common Reason For Herpes
Herpes simplex virus HSV-1 and HSV2 both are dangerous if not treated well on time. Herpes simplex virus usually appears in the form of blisters or multiple blisters on the affected areas.
Whereas, genital herpes is commonly caused by sexually transmitted infection marked by genital pain and sores.
These blisters break, leaving tender sores in places like the mouth, genitals, or rectum. The outbreak can also be spread through general illness, fatigue, physical or emotional stress, chemotherapy or steroids medications, and trauma.
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How Long Do Sores From Herpes Simplex Last
If youre infected with HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes, you may notice tingling or burning around your mouth in the days before a cold sore appears. These blisters break open and ooze fluid before forming a crust. Usually, sores last for seven to 10 days.
If youre infected with HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes, your first outbreak may last between two to four weeks. Recurrent outbreaks usually last between three to seven days.
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What If I Am Pregnant
It is important to tell your obstetrician that you or a partner have had genital herpes, so that they can monitor you for symptoms and manage your pregnancy safely. There is a risk you can pass the virus on to your baby if you have a vaginal delivery during a first attack of genital herpes. If this happens you may be recommended to have a caesarean delivery.
Treatment Of An Initial Outbreak
The first outbreak of genital herpes is usually much worse than recurrent outbreaks. Symptoms tend to be more severe and to last longer. Your provider will prescribe one of the three antiviral medications, which you will take for 7 to 10 days. If your symptoms persist, treatment may be extended. An acyclovir ointment may also be prescribed for topical treatment of initial genital herpes.
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What Else Should I Know
Genital herpes is a lifelong condition, but there are ways to manage it. If you have genital herpes:
- Take medicines to stop outbreaks or make them less frequent and less severe.
- Help reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to others by taking medicines, always using a condom during sex, and avoiding sex during outbreaks.
When To Call A Doctor
If you haven’t been diagnosed with genital herpes, call your doctor if you have:
- Painful blisters or sores in the genital or pelvic area.
- Burning or pain while urinating, or you can’t urinate.
- Reason to think you’ve been exposed to genital herpes.
If you have been diagnosed with genital herpes, call your doctor if you are having frequent outbreaks or if you can’t pass urine or are constipated.
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, or if you think you have genital herpes, tell your doctor.
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Genital Herpes By Race/ethnicity
As with most infectious diseases, genital herpes is more prevalent among some racial/ethnic groups than others. This is especially true of Black people in the United States who are nearly 4 times as likely to have HSV-2 as White people.
The causes for this disparity are many, including poverty and limited access to health care and diagnosis. Institutional racism and healthcare discrimination can often discourage people from seeking the care they need, as well. Moreover, living in a community where STI rates are already high increases the likelihood of infection.
Even more concerning is the fact that genital herpes increases the risk of HIV, in part because open sores provide HIV easier access into the body and the inflammatory response attracts the very immune cells that HIV targets for infection.
As a result of these intersecting risk factors, a 2013 study in the journal PLoS suggested that genital herpes in Black people increases their vulnerability to HIV three times more than in White people.
The herpes virus is spread by skin-to-skin contact with a person who has the herpes virus:
- Most often, from herpes sores or blisters
- Less often, from normal looking skin where the virusfirst entered the body
- The herpes virus enters the body through the:
- Lining of the mouth
- Regular skin that has small cracks or cuts
People who dont know they have herpes can still spread the virus to others.
Understanding Herpes With H Hunter Handsfield Md
Herpes expert H. Hunter Handsfield, MD, explains the basics about genital herpes, including the difference between genital HSV-1 and HSV-2 infection, testing options and the importance of knowing virus type, and the three-prong strategy for prevention. See more herpes videos at sexualhealthTV.com.
Have a question about herpes youd like Dr. Handsfield or our other experts to answer? Visit our Ask the Experts page to learn how.
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Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Many people who have genital herpes may not be aware they have the infection, because they may not have any symptoms.
The first episode of herpes can cause considerable pain and distress. Symptoms of the first episode may include:
- flu-like symptoms such as feeling unwell, headaches and pains in the back and legs, with or without enlarged glands in the groin
- small blisters around the genitals these break open to form shallow, painful ulcers, which scab over and heal after one to two weeks
- small cracks in the skin with or without an itch or tingling
- redness or a distinct rash
- some people also have considerable pain and swelling in the genital area, and hence may have additional pain and difficulty passing urine.
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.
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You Can Only Get Genital Herpes If Your Partner Has An Active Infection With Sores Right Wrong
A person can be exposed to the virus and pass it to someone else without ever having symptoms. It happens more often than youd think. Thats because the virus can exist in genital fluids even without any ulcers. This is called “asymptomatic shedding of virus.” Although there is a lot more active virus when there are sores, asymptomatic shedding is probably how most people get herpes. Whats more, only one out of four people who tests positive for genital herpes actually knows that they have the virus. Thats a lot of people. Combine the two and you have many people unknowingly infecting others.
Many people who learn they have genital herpes are shocked. They often didnt see any sores on their partner or that their partner had never had any ulcers, ever. This is common and true, because people can have genital herpes and not know it.
Are Cold Sores Contagious
Oral herpes is contagious to others who do not have it.
The virus is spread from person to person by kissing, by close contact with herpes lesions, or from saliva even when sores are not present. Infected saliva is a common means of virus transmission. The contagious period is highest when people have active blisters or moist sores. Once the blisters have dried and crusted over , the risk of contagion is significantly lessened. HSV can also be spread through personal items that are contaminated with the virus, such as lipstick, utensils, and razors. Despite popular myth, catching herpes from surfaces, towels, or washcloths is a very low risk, since the virus does not usually survive long on dry surfaces.
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What Causes An Outbreak Of Herpes
The herpes simplex virus is available in two forms: herpes simplex infection type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 . Herpes simplex virus type 2 cause genital herpes that cause breakouts of genital sores.
Herpes simplex type 1 generally causes cold sores or blisters around the mouth however can be transferred to the genital area by method of foreplay .
HSV-2 are frequently spread out through sex.
HSV-1 can be spread through oral bodily fluids contacts like during kissing or with skin to skin contact with a fever blister.
Upon entry into the host body, the herpes simplex virus connect chronically in the body through the nerves deep into the nerve centers part of spinal nerves and remain in a hidden state up until being re-activated again triggering break out symptoms like painful blisters or sores.
Why Do Genital Herpes Outbreaks Occur
Everyone reacts differently to infection with HSV-2 , the most common virus that causes genital herpes. Many people develop no symptoms at all.
Some men and women develop mild symptoms that go unnoticed for the most part. Others develop extremely painful outbreaks with numerous herpetic sores. There are some known triggers for genital herpes symptoms:
- Friction during sexual intercourse irritates the skin and exacerbates symptoms. Using water-based lubricants can help reduce skin irritation.
- Although it is known that sunlight and the common cold trigger oral herpes outbreaks, there is no evidence that they trigger outbreaks of genital herpes.
- Hormonal changes in women during the menstrual cycle can trigger an outbreak of genital herpes.
- People with weak immune systems and are more likely to suffer frequent herpes outbreaks.
- Herpes outbreaks are more common following illness, trauma, or surgery.
Remember, not everyone has the same triggers.
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Got Ulcers Get Tested
A person with genital ulcers should see his or her doctor. Its important to confirm whether or not it is herpes. Genital herpes outbreaks are treated with antiviral medications. These medications can help to reduce the number of days of discomfort and have few side effects. They are most effective when taken early in an outbreak. Some people take these drugs daily to prevent outbreaks.
Once someone has had a test that confirms either type of genital herpes, future partners can have a blood test which tells them if they already have been exposed to the same strain of virus. If the person tests negative, the partner with the infection would be advised to take antiviral therapy daily, in order to help prevent infecting his or her partner. Although daily antiviral therapy decreases the chances of spreading the virus, there is no guarantee, so its best to have a frank conversation with a new sexual partner.
Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- What is the best treatment for me?
- Are there any side effects to my treatment?
- Is it safe to have unprotected sex if I dont have any sores?
- Can I give myself genital herpes if I also have oral herpes?
- Can I give someone else herpes even if Im not having an outbreak?
- What is the best way to prevent herpes outbreaks?
- Can I live a normal life with herpes?
- Am I at risk of developing any other diseases?
- Are there any support groups in my area?
- If I give my baby herpes, what is the treatment?
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How To Cure Herpes Through Supplements And Programs
The herpes treatment supports your immune system and nerve cells by selecting the right herpes treatment options by the healthcare provider. Therefore, you can reduce inflammation, irritation, and other symptoms through a mix of lifestyle changes and dietary supplements.
The key to successfully treating any oral or genital herpes outbreak is a timely response to severe cases. As the antiviral drug reduces the severity of the oral or genital herpes outbreak symptom and makes you heal faster.
Daily suppressive therapy like antiviral medication for oral or genital herpes can reduce recurrent outbreaks when they flare-up. As antiviral drugs reduce viral shedding and peer-reviewed studies show that home remedies can also use to cured diagnoses.
Hence, the best supplements and programs higher the effect of formula to get significantly amplified results.
Things that increase your risk of getting genital herpes include:
- Having more than one sex partner.
- Having a high-risk partner or partners .
- Having unprotected sexual contact .
- Starting sexual activity at a young age. The younger people are when they start having sex, the greater their risk is of getting genital herpes.
- Having a weakened immune system.
- Being a woman. Women are more likely than men to become infected when exposed to genital herpes. And their symptoms tend to be more severe and longer-lasting. Women also are at a greater risk of having complications from a genital herpes infection.