What Causes Oral Herpes And Cold Sores
The two most common types of herpes and their herpes causes are:
Cold Sores. Yes, cold sores are herpes. The virus that causes cold sores is called Herpes Simplex 1 or HSV 1.
HSV 1 or cold sores is the most common form of herpes around the world. Up to 80% of adults in the United States have this form of infection. Many have cold sore outbreaks on a regular basis, some every now and then, and some people have the virus but never have a cold sore outbreak.
While many people have HSV 1, which Ive had for many years there doesnt seem to be a social stigma over it.
Cold sores are annoying. You shouldnt be kissing when you have an outbreak. The outbreak is caused when the virus is reactivated from stress and travels up the nerves. It breaks out through different stages and makes an ugly sore on the lips or around the mouth.
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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How To Manage Herpes Flare
If you have herpes, youre not alone. Its one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases on the planet. No one knows for sure how many people have it, but researchers estimate over 1 in 6 Americans and about two-thirds of people worldwide have the condition.
Once you have herpes, it can stay inactive in your nerves for the rest of your life. But sometimes the virus becomes active again and causes an outbreak or flare-up of symptoms.
At the private practice of Beth and Howard Braver, MD, in Aventura and Hollywood, Florida, our board-certified team of physicians diagnoses and treats many types of STDs including genital herpes. Our confidential STD testing helps ensure your health and the health of your partner.
Heres a closer look at herpes and what you can do to manage flare-ups.
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How Can I Reduce My Risk Of Getting Genital Herpes
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:
- Be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who is not infected with an STD
- Using latex condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that are covered by a latex condom. Also, herpes virus can be released from areas of the skin that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
If you are in a relationship with a person known to have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting genital herpes if:
- Your partner takes an anti-herpes medication every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her doctor.
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 with a weak immune system can get a herpesinfection more easily. A weak immune system is causedby some diseases and by somemedicines used to treat serious diseases.
People who dont know they have herpes can still spread the virus to others.
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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Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
Women with herpes before pregnancy can usually expect to have a healthy baby and a vaginal delivery.
If you have genital herpes during pregnancy, there’s a risk your baby could develop a serious illness called neonatal herpes.
This can be fatal, but most babies recover with antiviral treatment.
The risk of your baby getting neonatal herpes is low if you have had genital herpes before.
It’s higher if you get genital herpes for the first time in pregnancy.
Where Do Symptoms Appear
When a person has genital herpes, the virus lies dormant in the bundle of nerves at the base of the spine. When the virus reactivates , it travels nerve paths to the surface of the skin, sometimes causing an outbreak.
Genital herpes, regardless of whether it is HSV-1 or HSV-2, does not cause symptoms on the mouth or face. For more on oral-facial herpes, see the oral herpes page.
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Can Stress Cause A Herpes Outbreak
It doesnt take a scientist to figure out that living with genital herpes is stressful. From managing outbreaks to figuring out when and how to disclose your status, its well, a lot. And if youve ever noticed that you experience outbreaks even more when youre worried, anxious, or under pressure, its not in your head. There is a real, evidence-based relationship between stress and outbreaks.
Youve likely observed that you get an outbreak when youre feeling stressed out, like during a tough period at work, while studying for exams in school, or during a breakup. Sometimes, theres also a correlation between outbreaks and hormonal fluctuationsmany women report they will start to feel that telltale itch/tingle of symptoms starting during or right after their monthly menstrual cycle, for example.
How does stress affect herpes?
A 2009 meta-analysis found that psychosocial stress can hugely impact the recurrence of those exotic eczema flare ups. Earlier research also found a correlation between stress and herpes outbreaks. A 2011 article in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity suggests that daily stress, depression, and anxiety are all precursors to experiencing an outbreak of lesions on the genitals. Sigh.
Does herpes cause stress?
In addition, 64% of people disclosed that they were currently experiencing mental health issues as a direct result of their herpes diagnosis.
How do I manage stress and herpes?!
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First A Primer On Herpes Zoster
Herpes zoster is another word for shingles, i.e. an outbreak of a rash or blisters on the skin. It’s triggered by the same virus that causes chickenpox, the varicella-zoster virus, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says. For the record: This is not the same thing as genital herpes or oral herpes those two conditions are caused by different herpes viruses.
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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.
How Will My Healthcare Provider Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at any sores that are present. Providers can also take a sample from the sore and test it. If sores are not present, a blood test may be used to look for HSV antibodies.
Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider about herpes testing and other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or when you got the infection.
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How Can You Avoid Genital Herpes
Most women get genital herpes through sexual contactwith a person who has herpes sores. You can get thevirus without having sex. To avoid infection:
- Avoid skin-to-skin and sexual contact.
- Have safer sex:
- Reduce the number of sexual partners.
- Condoms, when used correctly, can reduce therisk of getting genital herpes. Each time you have sexuse a condom :
- Before vaginal sex
- Before oral sex
For more information, see Safer Sex.
Key Foods That Cause Herpes Outbreaks
Some of the top questions that I see happening in our private community are around preventing outbreaks. You guys are asking is there something that is in my diet that is triggering this or is the someway I can control my outbreaks with nutrition. Basically, what can I do to prevent these dang things from interrupting my life? Ok so the YAASSSS you can. This is good news, right? Trust me, Im like you and I want to do everything I can to prevent an outbreak and keep that sucker dormant. Before we dive in and cover the top foods that cause outbreaks I want to make sure we cover the main reason why these foods are Xed off our list. It boils down to one simple protein called arginine. Arginine is an essential amino acid that is crucial to our overall health. It supports things like blood flow, circulation and helps the blood vessels relax. We clearly need arginine in our system. The problem occurs when we have an abundance of arginine in our body it can be like lighter fluid to a flame or miracle grow to a weed. We want to be aware of what foods are high in arginine and foods that trigger a herpes outbreak. We can combat the arginine with another essential acid called lysine. This The other biggie, why some of these foods are on our dont go there list, is because they lower our immune system. A low immune system equals a chance for the herpes virus to come out and play.
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Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
How Hsv Is Transmitted
The herpes simplex virus spreads between people, usually through contact with saliva or direct contact with a blister. The most infectious time is in the first few days when the blister is forming. Sometimes, people can pass the virus to others when they have no symptoms. This is because the virus may be lying dormant in the skin cells of the lips.
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Herpes Outbreak Triggers: Takeaways
- Stress that is long-term, or stress accompanied by poor coping habits, can cause outbreak recurrences.
- Sun can bring about cold sores, so sun protection can help.
- The friction of sex can exacerbate herpes. Be wary if prodrome signs are present.
- Menstruation correlates with slightly higher rates of prodrome symptoms, but not necessarily outbreaks with sores.
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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.
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How Is It Treated
Genital herpes can be treated, but it cannot be cured.Anti-viral medicines can make outbreaks:
Living with genital herpes causes some people to:
- Feel embarrassed or ashamed
- Worry about infecting a sexual partner
- Worry that having herpes will affect relationships with sexual partners
- Avoid dating or sexual relationships
Most people with herpes are able to live with the virusand manage their outbreaks. Talking to trusted healthcare providers and friends can help. Your health careprovider can talk to you about medicines that treatoutbreaks and about ways to reduce the chance ofpassing the virus on to a sexual partner.
Medicines can help lower the chance that you will pass the virus to others.
When Treatments For Genital Herpes Are Given
- Initial treatment. If you have symptoms such as sores when youre first diagnosed with genital herpes, your doctor will usually give you a brief course of antiviral therapy to relieve them or prevent them from getting worse. Your doctor may keep you on the drugs longer if the sores dont heal in that time.
After the first treatment, work with your doctor to come up with the best way to take antiviral therapies. There are two options:
- Intermittent treatment. Your doctor may prescribe an antiviral drug for you to keep on hand in case you have another flare-up this is called intermittent therapy. You can take the pills for two to five days as soon as you notice sores or when you feel an outbreak coming on. Sores will heal and disappear on their own, but taking the drugs can make the symptoms less severe and make them go away faster.
- Suppressive treatment. If you have outbreaks often, you may want to consider taking an antiviral drug every day. Doctors call this suppressive therapy. For someone who has more than six outbreaks a year, suppressive therapy can reduce the number of outbreaks by 70% to 80%. Many people who take the antiviral drugs daily have no outbreaks at all.
There is no set number of outbreaks per year that doctors use to decide when someone should start suppressive therapy. Rather, more important factors are how often the outbreaks happen and if they are severe enough to interfere with your life.
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What Should I Know If I Am Pregnant And I Have Genital Herpes
Its normal to be concerned about the health of your baby when you have any type of STI. Genital herpes can be transmitted to your baby if you have an active outbreak during a vaginal delivery.
Its important to tell your doctor that you have genital herpes as soon as you know youre pregnant.
Your doctor will discuss what to expect before, during, and after you deliver your baby. They can prescribe pregnancy-safe treatments to ensure a healthy delivery. They may also opt to deliver your baby via cesarean.
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 you’re infected with the herpes virus.
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Herpes Pregnancy And Newborn Infants
Herpes can pose serious risks for a pregnant woman and her baby. The risk is greatest for mothers with a first-time infection because the virus can be transmitted to the infant during childbirth. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using specific diagnostic tests for women in labor to determine the risk of transmission. Babies born to mothers infected with genital herpes are often treated with the antiviral drug acyclovir, which can help suppress the virus.
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex
Many people with the infection never experience any herpes symptoms. If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a repeat 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.
People who do have herpes symptoms may experience:
- Cold sores around their lips, mouth or tongue. They may look crusty or like fluid-filled blisters.
- Tingling, itching or burning.
- Pain while urinating.
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