Transmission Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease spread by skin-to-skin contact. The risk of infection is highest during outbreak periods when there are visible sores and lesions. However, genital herpes can also be transmitted when there are no visible symptoms. Most new cases of genital herpes infection do not cause symptoms, and many people infected with HSV-2 are unaware that they have genital herpes.
To help prevent genital herpes transmission:
- Use a condom for sexual intercourse.
- Use a dental dam for oral sex.
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
- Be aware that nonoxynol-9, the chemical spermicide used in gel and foam contraceptive products and some lubricated condoms, does not protect against STDs.
What Is The Treatment For Cold Sores
For most people with just one or two blisters on their lip or near their nose, keeping the blister clean, dry and leaving it alone are all that is needed. Below are some tips that can help with healing.
- Use sunblock lip balm if youre outside in the sun.
- Cold sore patches can protect the skin while it heals.
- Ice, held against the blisters, or a warm wash cloth may help ease any pain.
- Avoid acidic or salty food if it makes your cold sore feel worse.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water or a pain relieving mouthwash.
- You can buy an antiviral cream called aciclovir from your Pharmacy. Read more about aciclovir cream.
- A kanuka honey based cream called Honeva is also available and has been shown to be as effective as aciclovir for treating cold sores.
- Take pain relief such as paracetamol or ibuprofen.
Is There A Cure For Genital Herpes
Unfortunately, there is no cure for HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Because of this, its important to be aware of how to prevent, identify, and treat outbreaks. Prevention is key when it comes to avoiding the infection and the possible complications associated with the herpes simplex virus. Its important for anyone who is infected, or thinks that they may have been exposed to herpes, to take precautions. If there is a current outbreak , skin-to-skin contact should be avoided. This includes kissing and any unprotected sex, including oral sex. Anyone who is infected with herpes simplex, even without visible symptoms, can pass it to another person. Because of this, its important to take precautions during every sexual encounter.
Here are some of the ways that people can protect themselves from genital herpes.
- Using a condom during sex helps protect against herpes and other STIs.
- Make sure that both partners are tested for HSV and that the results of the tests are in before engaging in unprotected sex.
- Currently, vaccines are being developed.
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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.
Preventing The Spread Of Herpes
The following tips may help prevent the condition from reactivating or spreading:
- Wash any items that may have had contact with the contagious sores, like towels, in boiling water after use.
- Dont share food utensils or other personal items with people who have oral herpes.
- Dont share cold sore creams with anyone.
- Dont kiss or participate in oral sex with someone who has a cold sore.
- To keep the virus from spreading to other parts of the body, dont touch the blisters or sores. If you do, wash your hands with soap and water immediately.
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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.
Assessment Of Qol In Recurrent Genital Herpes
Quantitative assessment of the impact of recurrent genital herpes on QOL has, until recently, been problematic. Early attempts at measuring the effects of recurrent genital herpes used many different assessment tools . Anxiety, social support, coping styles, personality characteristics and emotional difficulties have all been associated with genital herpes recurrences. Although widely reported in the literature, studies have not conclusively demonstrated an association between acute stressors and recurrent genital herpes. However, chronic stress has been associated with frequency of genital herpes recurrence in some studies.
The assessment tools used in the above studies all have the disadvantage of being generic instruments and frequently do not address QOL issues specific to recurrent genital herpes. In particular, generalised QOL scales do not assess the impact of transmission anxiety on QOL for those with recurrent genital herpes. As mentioned earlier, this is one of the greatest areas of concern for patients and can have a tremendous impact on a patients sense of well-being.
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What Triggers Your Herpes Outbreaks
Herpes is caused by one of two viruses: herpes simplex type 1 or herpes simplex type 2 . Herpes is different from many other common viral infections. Most importantly, it doesnt go away. The virus tends to lie dormant in the nerve root causing no symptoms whatsoever. But, at any time, it can travel the nerve pathways in a particular part of the bodythe virus can reactivate and cause a flare-up or recurrence.
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Getting Genital Herpes Diagnosed
Some people wait for symptoms to appear, which can take up to 3 weeks, before getting diagnosed. The average person waits 12 months after the first outbreak of symptoms before seeking treatment. When symptoms do appear, they are often dismissed by the person as a typical skin condition or even a yeast infection. This is why it is important to get tested as soon as you suspect you might have genital herpes.
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that can be diagnosed with a simple swab test. Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus, and the symptoms include genital sores and fever. There is no cure for genital herpes, but antiviral medications can help relieve symptoms and shorten outbreaks. Another way to reduce the risk of transmission and find out if you have genital herpes is to get tested.
If you have been experiencing symptoms that you believe may be herpes, such as vaginal discharge or penile blisters, then it is important to get diagnosed. The majority of people infected with HSV-2 will not experience symptoms, yet the virus can still cause lifelong health problems such as chronic pain and possible complications for future pregnancies. Getting tested for genital herpes can be done through a simple blood test at your doctor’s office or at a lab.
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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Whats The Typical Frequency Of Cold Sores
Theres no algorithm to predict the exact frequency of cold sore outbreaks. Many different factors influence the frequency and duration of herpes occurrences.
More than anything, cold sores develop in response to certain triggers. The herpes virus lies dormant and inactive within the nerve cells of your skin until one or more of these triggers disrupts its slumber:
Once a cold sore develops, it may last three to seven days before the sores scab over and heal.
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Can Herpes Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent getting herpes is to not have sex with anyone who has the virus. It can be spread even when the person who has it isnt showing any symptoms. If your partner has herpes, there is no way of knowing for sure that you wont get it.
If you are infected, there is no time that is completely safe to have sex and not spread herpes. If you have herpes, you must tell your sex partner. You should avoid having sex if you have any sores. Herpes can spread from one person to another very easily when sores are present.
You should use condoms every time you have sex. They can help reduce the risk of spreading herpes. But its still possible to spread or get herpes if youre using a condom.
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How To Treat An Hsv
Herpes outbreaks can range from a minor inconvenience to a major annoyance. Outbreaks of genital herpes can be particularly frustrating, as they can have a major effect on your personal relationship with your partner or partners.
Luckily, herpes is relatively easy to manage using modern medication. Most doctors recommend the use of antiviral medication like valacyclovir, which suppresses the herpes virus from multiplying within the body.
During an outbreak, this can prevent viral replication and speed up healing. Between outbreaks, the use of antiviral drugs can prevent viral shedding and reduce your risk of passing on herpes to other people through oral or sexual contact.
Want to learn more about treating herpes? Our comparison of valacyclovir, acyclovir, famciclovir and other herpes drugs explains how modern herpes medicine works, why its effective and how you can use it to minimize the negative effects of HSV-1 or HSV-2 outbreaks.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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Who Gets Herpes Simplex
Primary attacks of Type 1 HSV infections occur mainly in infants and young children. In crowded, underdeveloped areas of the world, nearly all children have been infected by the age of 5. In less crowded places, the incidence is lower for example, less than half of university entrants in Britain have been infected. Type 2 HSV infections occur mainly after puberty and are often transmitted sexually.
HSV is transmitted by direct or indirect contact with someone with active herpes simplex, which is infectious for 712 days. Asymptomatic shedding of the virus in saliva or genital secretions can also lead to transmission of HSV, but this is infrequent, as the amount shed from inactive lesions is 100 to 1000 times less than when it is active. The incubation period is 212 days.
Minor injury helps inoculate HSV into the skin. For example:
- A thumb sucker may transmit the virus from their mouth to their thumb.
- A health-care worker may develop herpetic whitlow
- A rugby player may get a cluster of blisters on one cheek .
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What Can I Do If I Have Herpes
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they will always have the virus and can give it to others. But you are not alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the US and worldwide. Exact numbers of people affected are not known. This is because many people dont realize they have it, especially if symptoms are minor and are not bothersome. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should talk to your doctor if this is a right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. Women with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your health care provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
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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 won’t be expecting it. But, over time, you will be better able to recognize the tell-tale signs and know when it’s time to act.
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What Are The Types Of Herpes Viruses
Herpes is a group of contagious viruses that cause blisters and sores. Some of the more common herpes viruses include:
- Type 1: HSV-1, or oral herpes, causes cold sores to form on your lips, gums, tongue and inside of your mouth. It can cause genital herpes in some cases. This type usually spreads through saliva when you kiss someone with open herpes sores. You can also get HSV-1 by sharing items like toothbrushes, lipsticks or eating utensils.
- Type 2: HSV-2 causes genital herpes.
- Herpes zoster: This virus causes chickenpox and shingles.
How Can Herpes Be Prevented
Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmitting or acquiring genital herpes because herpes virus shedding can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.25,26
The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and is known to be uninfected.
Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with partners when herpes lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms, he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.
Daily treatment with valacyclovir decreases the rate of HSV-2 transmission in discordant, heterosexual couples in which the source partner has a history of genital HSV-2 infection. 27 Such couples should be encouraged to consider suppressive antiviral therapy as part of a strategy to prevent transmission, in addition to consistent condom use and avoidance of sexual activity during recurrences.
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Tips To Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
Upgrading your habits to healthier ones can prevent herpes recurrences. Based on the studies and factors above, here are some tips:
Get Restful Sleep
Get good sleep. Itll impact every aspect of your life, your focus, your health, and your emotions. Not only should you get plenty of sleep, but make sure to allow yourself relaxation time.
Do a Food Makeover
Switch out processed foods and fast food for whole ones. Get plenty of veggies, lean meats, and healthy fats. Wholesome meals can be easy to prepare at home.
Similarly, foods high in lysine may help to counter the replication of the herpes virus. High-lysine foods include fish, cheese, and yogurt. For more about lysine and arginine, you can get our complete food charts here. You can also try lysine supplements if theyre right for you.
Speaking of supplements, there are several that are popular for preventing outbreaks. While studies backing them are usually limited in their scope, and they arent evaluated by the FDA, some studies do look promising.
Heres a complete herpes supplement guide.
The stress studies we went over earlier suggest that not just any stress, but long-term stress, coping problems, or neuroticism could exacerbate and trigger herpes outbreaks.
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.
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