How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people who have genital herpes have no symptoms, or have very mild symptoms. You may not notice mild symptoms or you may mistake them for another skin condition, such as a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people who have herpes do not know it.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. These symptoms are sometimes called having an outbreak. The first time someone has an outbreak they may also have flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, or swollen glands.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they are infected with HSV-2. Repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although the infection stays in the body for the rest of your life, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD. STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.
What Are The Complications Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes may cause painful genital ulcers that can be severe and persistent in persons with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV-infected persons. 5 Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also cause rare but serious complications such as aseptic meningitis . 5 Development of extragenital lesions may occur during the course of infection. 5
Recognizing The Signs: The Prodrome
Early in the phase of reactivation , many people experience an itching, tingling, or painful feeling in the area where their recurrent lesions will develop. This sort of warning symptomcalled a prodromeoften comes a day or two before lesions appear. To be on the safe side, its best to assume virus is active during these times.
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What Happens After Viral Reactivation
Following a persons primary oral herpes infection What to look for., some of the virus particles that were associated with that event travel along sensory nerve fibers running from the affected area to that regions corresponding nerve ganglion.
Once they arrive, the virions take up permanent residence. And for most of their time in the ganglion, they exist in a dormant state.
The herpes virus lives in association with facial nerve fibers.
When activated, the virus forms a cold sore in the area the nerve services.
- Virus particles exit the ganglion. The virions travel down nerve fibers that run from the ganglion to the skin tissue of the persons perioral area .
The nerve fibers involved are those that actually service this region.
c) Factors influencing herpes reactivation.
Its known that most of us do harbor the herpes simplex virus Statistics, yet not all people experience cold sores. Equally perplexing, of those that do, why do some people have breakouts more frequently than others?
While theres no firm answer to these questions, herpesvirus reactivation is thought to be significantly influenced by the following component factors, each of which varies with each individual.
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.
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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.
Genital Herpes: Common But Misunderstood
First recognize the symptoms and signs, then take action to prevent outbreaks
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that can cause small, painful sores in the genital area. The symptoms may include low-grade fever, itching, burning, and trouble urinating. But many people with the disease donât realize they have been infected with HSV, because either they have only mild or infrequent symptoms, or no symptoms at all. In women, herpes outbreaks can also be mistaken for vaginitis, urinary tract infections, or even hemorrhoids.
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- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
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.
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Recurrent Herpes Simplex Labialis
According to the World Health Organization , an estimated two out of three adults in the world under age 50 carry this virus.
The condition causes blisters and sores on the lips, mouth, tongue, or gums. After an initial outbreak, the virus stays dormant inside the nerve cells of the face.
Later on in life, the virus can reactivate and result in more sores. These are commonly known as cold sores or fever blisters.
Recurrent herpes simplex labialis usually isnt serious, but relapses are common. Many people choose to treat the recurrent episodes with over-the-counter creams.
The symptoms will usually go away without treatment in a few weeks. A doctor may prescribe medications if relapses occur often.
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Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.
What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?
For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.
How Long Does A Herpes Outbreak Last
Herpes outbreaks usually last for about one to two weeks, though the first outbreak after infection may last longer. The symptoms typically go away on their own without treatment. However, there are at-home remedies and prescription treatments which may help to ease symptoms and shorten the length of outbreaks. Herpes outbreaks may continue to occur, but many people find that they become shorter and less severe over time.
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How Common Is Genital Herpes
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 40 million to 50 million adults in the United States have genital herpes. HSV II infection is more common in women and in people who have had more than five sexual partners. Most people with HSV II do not know they have it, because it does not always cause symptoms.
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Triggers And Factors That Bring On Outbreaks
Triggers and Environmental Factors are many, and vary with each person. Some of the more common triggers for outbreaks are rubbing, chafing, friction, overexposure to wind, cold, wet, heat, sun , restrictive clothing, and sweating.
Extreme environments of any sort, be they physical, emotional, auditory, etc., may create more stress chemicals in the body, and subsequently trigger nerve response that may possibly increase reactivation of HSV.
Foods reported by some to affect outbreaks include coffee, chocolate, nuts, popcorn, and alcohol.
Women report a tendency to be more susceptible to outbreaks around menstruation. Tampons are reported by some women to aggravate Herpes, probably due to the friction or chafing with insertion and removal. Wearing tight underwear or pads that rub or chafe can irritate the area and possibly precipitate an outbreak. Some women also report irritation from standard feminine hygiene products, and find non-chlorinated, natural cotton brands to be less irritating. Seventh Generation makes a great line of chlorine free personal products, including feminine hygiene, wipes, and soaps. A favorite personal soap thats mild and non-irritating is California Baby Super Sensitive Shampoo & Body Wash.
Personal and lifestyle factors which may directly influence recurrence include stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, fatigue, and illness. You will discover your own personal triggers and learn to avoid or mitigate them.
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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.
Upgrade Your Eating Habits
Are you eating a standard American diet, or SAD? That means eating lots of meat, fast foods, and processed foods and few fresh fruits and vegetables. Such habits not only work against living comfortably with herpes, they also raise your risk for many diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Consider upgrading your eating habits through a few, not-so-hard-to-make changes.
Eat more veggies. Try to prepare home-cooked food more often. Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed, says LeeAnn Weintraub, RD, MPH, a registered dietitian based in Los Angeles. She considers these three tips to be the first steps anyone who wants to eat more healthfully should follow.
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Herpes Outbreak Frequency: How Often Do They Occur
People with symptomatic HSV-1 can have anywhere from several outbreaks per year to one every couple years or so, depending on the individual. Outbreaks tend to be worst during the initial herpes outbreak, as the body hasnt had time to produce its own immune response to herpes.
Oral HSV-1 outbreaks usually involve the development of cold sores around the lips and mouth. The sores usually begin as an itching, burning sensation before forming into small blisters over several days.
When cold sores caused by HSV-1 are open, they can weep out infectious fluid, leading to a high risk of transmission. Its best to abstain from kissing or sexual activity if you have an open cold sore, as theres a risk of infecting your partner with HSV-1 through direct oral contact. If your question is, “When is herpes contagious?” the answer is, “All the time.”Open cold sores are highly contagious, but even if you’re not experiencing an outbreak, it’s still possible to transmit herpes.
Our guide to kissing and cold sores goes into more detail about how you can reduce your HSV-1 transmission risk during an outbreak.
By acting quickly and treating a cold sore in the early stage, you may be able to limit its development and speed up the healing process. Our guide to how to get rid of a cold sore as quickly as possible and the list of foods to avoid during herpes outbreak covers simple tactics that you can use to quickly control an HSV-1 outbreak.
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.
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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.
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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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.
How Are These Conditions Diagnosed
Pimples are easily managed with changes in your personal hygiene or by using over-the-counter treatments.
If the bumps dont respond to treatment or if you notice painful, fluid-filled blisters after having sex see your doctor right away. Your doctor may be able to make a diagnosis just by looking at the bumps.
Your doctor can confirm a diagnosis with one of several tests.
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How Do You Get Rid Of A Herpes Outbreak Fast
The most effective treatment method is prescription medication from a doctor. This can be in the form of topical cream or an oral medication.
If you suspect you have herpes and would like to speak to a physician and/or get tested and treated online, book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor now.
We accept insurance and appointments are available every 15 minutes. Our doctors can order lab tests for a herpes test and diagnose you based on the results.
If you have already been diagnosed with herpes they can prescribe you a treatment plan, including any necessary medications.