When To See A Doctor
People should see their doctor if they think they might have herpes, or if they have any symptoms of herpes. Getting tested for herpes is also important to rule out other sexually transmitted infections.
People can visit their doctor or a sexual health clinic for a test. If people have any sores or blisters present, a healthcare provider will use a swab to take a sample from the sores. The sample will indicate whether or not the sores are due to a herpes infection.
Some people may be concerned that they have the herpes virus but no symptoms. In such cases, a doctor might be able to order a blood test to check for the virus in a persons blood. However, the
How Do The Tests Work
HSV tests detect IgG and immunoglobulin M antibodies. IgG antibodies are present soon after infection with HSV and remain in the blood for life. A test result showing IGg antibodies will tell a person that they have experienced an infection in the past and that they have antibodies against the virus.
IgM antibodies appear before IgG antibodies but may disappear when the infection is inactive. Testing for IgM antibodies is not a useful way to distinguish between primary and recurrent episodes of HSV infection. Therefore, doctors do not recommend IgM testing.
A positive herpes antibody test cannot tell people where they have HSV infection or when they contracted the infection. It cannot tell if a person was capable of passing on the infection at the time of the test, nor can it tell if specific symptoms are due to herpes.
Once a sample comes back from laboratory analysis, a person will receive one of the following results:
Can Herpes Meningoencephalitis Be Prevented
Avoiding herpes virus infections in the first place can help you prevent herpes meningoencephalitis. Ways to avoid infections from herpes viruses include:
Abstain from sex or have only one sex partner who has been tested for the virus and isn’t infected.
Use a latex condom, which can reduce but not entirely prevent the risk of infection.
Avoid kissing people with cold sore blisters. It’s important to keep in mind that most people have already been infected with HSV1 virus by the time they’re 20 years old. If you’ve already been infected, the virus goes dormant inside your body except during outbreaks.
Some pregnant women who have had genital herpes outbreaks may want to have their babies delivered by cesarean section. This may prevent meningoencephalitis in newborns.
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Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
Atypical Healing Of Genital Herpes Sores
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
This picture shows herpes lesions after some of the blisters have broken open. Typically, you will see a whitish or yellowish crust forming on the ulcers.
With that said, crusting may not be all that apparent. Because the skin of the and is moist, there may be minimal crusting. Instead, there may be a whitish film covering or surrounding the open sores.
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When To Seek Medical Care
If you develop new painful sores in or around the genitals, see a physician as soon as possible because treatment is much more effective if started early.Recurrent outbreaks of genital HSV usually do not require a visit to the doctor. However, because some people have milder forms of herpes, you should also see a doctor for any recurring rash in the genital area, even if you think it is from bug bites, jock itch, or any other condition.If you have an underlying medical condition such as cancer or HIV, if you have undergone organ transplantation, or if you are pregnant, you are at higher risk for more serious complications from genital herpes. Seek medical advice as soon as possible if you develop any lesions.Genital herpes can also be passed to a newborn baby during delivery through contact with a lesion in the mother’s genital tract. Be sure to speak with your obstetrician about the possible risk to your baby if you have genital herpes.
Fever Blisters And Cold Sores Are Oral Herpes Too
Fever blisters and cold sores are just different names for oral herpes, and theyve been around for a very long time. Legend has it that in ancient Rome, the emperor Tiberius banned kissing at public events because of an outbreak of fever blisters. In other words, they even knew back then how contagious fever blisters are.
The best way to protect yourself is to avoid contact with a person who has a cold sore and refrain from sharing eating utensils, lip balm, and the like. Note that someone with oral herpes can give you genital herpes if they perform oral sex on you. Avoid kissing and oral sex when outbreaks are present.
There is no cure for fever blisters and no vaccine to prevent them, although research into preventing and treating them is ongoing. If you do get oral herpes, your doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain medication and topical anesthetics to relieve symptoms. Some people also choose to take antiviral medication to make cold sores go away faster.
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What Are The Different Types Of Herpes
The herpes simplex viruses that cause cold sores and genital herpes are part of a larger family of viruses, known as herpesviridae. According to the NIH, there are eight known members in this family that commonly infect humans, and close to 100 percent of the adult population is infected with at least one. The five types that cause the most concern are:
1.Herpes simplex virus type 1 HSV-1 is also known as herpes labialis, cold sores, or oral herpes. It is mainly spread through oral-to-oral contract, but in recent years, the NIH notes that there has been a documented rise in the frequency of genital herpes caused by HSV-1. This is likely because of an increase in oral sex, leading to more oral-to-genital contract. Those with HSV-1 who engage in unprotected oral sex with a partner are at risk for spreading the virus.
2.Herpes simplex virus type 2 This type is associated with outbreaks of blisters on the mucosal membrane of the genitals in rare occurrences, HSV-2 has been documented to cause blisters in and around the mouth.
3.Epstein-Barr virus Many people become infected with this virus in childhood, and it is most commonly spread through bodily fluids. This strain is responsible for causing infectious mononucleosis .
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Gladiatorum
- Symptoms usually begin about 8 days after exposure to HSV-1.
- Swollen glands .
- A tingling feeling at the affected area.
- A cluster of clear, fluid-filled blisters that may be surrounded by redness — these blisters may or may not be painful.
- Blisters and lesions usually heal within 7 to 10 days.
- People with HSV-1 infection are infected for life, may have periodic outbreaks, and can transmit the virus to others.
|Herpes outbreak on arm|
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How Is Herpes Simplex Treated
There is no cure for HSV at this time, but there are affordable treatments that can help.
Antiviral medications is the treatment of choice for HSV, Dr. Gelow said. The antiviral medicine can be used per outbreak as treatment or as a daily medicine to help prevent outbreaks and decrease risk of transmitting it to others.
Herpes Simplex Vs Aphthous Ulcers
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Getty Images / Alona Siniehina
This is a picture of aphthous ulcers, a type of oral sore that is often confused with cold sores. Aphthous ulcers can occur anywhere in the mouth, but do not involve the outside of the lip. They are not caused by the herpes virus.
Aphthous ulcers are painful, non-contagious ulcers limited to the inside of the mouth. As opposed to herpes blisters, aphthous ulcers start as painful sores that are yellowish or whitish in color with a red border.
Aphthous ulcers can be caused by the following.
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Syphilis: A Greater Health Threat Than Herpes
Syphilis and genital herpes are both STDs that can cause sores in the genital area. Like oral herpes, syphilis can also cause mouth sores, which often clear without treatment. But despite these similarities in symptoms, the two diseases differ in their causes syphilis is caused by a bacteria and herpes by a virus and the health risks they pose.
For most people the exceptions being infants and people who have weakened immune systems or who are chronically ill herpes is more of an annoyance than a dangerous disease. But untreated syphilis can lead to severe complications, including bone, joint, liver, heart, and brain damage.
There are four stages of syphilis, according to the CDC, each with different signs and symptoms. In the primary stage, a painless sore or sores develop where the bacteria first entered the skin or mucous membrane. In the secondary stage, you may develop a skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, fever, and other flu-like symptoms. In the latent stage of syphilis, there are no signs or symptoms, and in the tertiary stage, the bacterial infection can damage the heart, brain, and other organs of the body.
Herpes Rash On The Face
Groups of fluid-filled blisters appearing on red swollen areas of the skin, or the mucous membranes, can be an indication that herpes rash on the face is present. Sores may appear on the neck, cheeks and nose and could be mistaken for spots however, there is a clear difference in appearance. Herpes sores are white, yellow, or red translucent bumps which are filled with a clear liquid. They often appear in honeycomb like clusters, whereas pimples are pink filled with white pus, and appear sporadically around the face.
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When To Call The Doctor
Even though HSV sores can hurt and be unsightly, most cases of herpes do not cause serious illness. The sores go away in a few days. Contact the health provider if:
- Sores are present and you think it might be a first herpes infection. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the sores. If the sores have not healed, sometimes a laboratory test is done.
- Sores do not heal by themselves or show signs of infection such as pus, spreading redness or fever.
- Sores are near the eyes.
- You have another health condition with a weakened immune system.
How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have herpes.
- Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that a condom can cover. Also, the skin can release the virus from areas that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
If your sex partner has/have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting it if:
- Your partner takes an anti-herpes medicine every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her healthcare provider.
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Can It Lie Dormant
The herpes virus can lie dormant in the body for years before people experience any symptoms.
After people have the first outbreak of herpes, the virus then lies dormant in the nervous system. Any further outbreaks are due to the virus reactivating, which causes symptoms to appear.
Symptoms are usually less severe during repeat outbreaks. Sores also clear up more quickly, often within 37 days. This is due to the antibodies the body produces to fight the first outbreak of herpes. The body can then use these antibodies to respond more quickly to future outbreaks.
There is currently no cure for herpes. Even if a person stops experiencing symptoms, the virus will remain inside their body.
It is also important to point out that herpes is transmissible even when no sores or other symptoms are present. For this reason, early prevention is advisable.
Condoms and dental dams do not offer complete protection against the herpes virus, as herpes can live on areas around the genitals. However, these methods do reduce the likelihood of contracting the infection or passing it on.
A person who has herpes can also take other steps to reduce the chance of passing it on to a sexual partner. Such steps include telling their sexual partner that they have herpes before having sex.
Both people can then take additional steps to reduce the likelihood of transmission. These steps may include:
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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Prodromal Symptoms Of Herpes
Prior to a herpes outbreak, people will often have prodromal symptoms . With herpes, this may include localized genital pain, or tingling or shooting pains in the legs, hips, or buttocks. This may occur hours or days before the actual outbreak.
What Are The Other Symptoms Of A Herpes Outbreak
If you are experiencing the first outbreak of herpes, you are most likely to experience signs and symptoms that may include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- People who experience a herpes outbreak for the first time may develop the lesions 4 to 20 days after getting exposed to the virus.
After the initial infection, the herpes virus stays inactive in the nerves. It has a tendency to get reactivated and emerge as a new sore in certain situations. It is the reactivation that leads to the recurring outbreaks of herpes. Thankfully, consequent outbreaks after the first infection are usually associated with symptoms that are milder even blisters heal faster than before.
Outbreaks may be triggered by different things – stress, other illness, fatigue, hormone changes that occur during the menstrual cycle, or anything affecting your immune system, though anything can trigger an outbreak, and sometimes you may not know the trigger.
If you touch sores present in your mouth or genitals and then touch other places in the body, you can transmit the infection to those places one such example is herpes infection in the eyes. Children have a greater tendency to spread the virus from oral sores to their fingertips when they suck their thumbs. Once you have an established infection, and your body has produced antibodies, the chances of this happening are very low.
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What Should You Do If You Have Herpes
Herpes is contagious at all stages. It is most contagious when blisters burst and release their fluid.
If you have herpes, you should take precautions to avoid its spread to other parts of your body and to other people. Here is what you should do.
- Use protection such as condoms and dental dams during sex .
During an outbreak:
- refrain from sexual activity
- Avoid touching the infected region
- Avoid deep kissing
- Avoid sharing personal items such as towels, soaps and cosmetics with others.
- Wash your hands with mild soap or clean them with alcohol-based sanitizer before touching yourself or others.
- Starting antiviral medications at the onset of an outbreak can reduce the intensity of symptoms by about 70 percent
You can resume sexual activity once the outbreak resolves.
Remember, genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease . Sores may be painful or may cause you discomfort. However, the disease is not deadly and rarely causes serious complications. Therefore, do not panic if you are diagnosed with it. There is no cure for herpes but certain over the counter and prescription medications from a doctor can help reduce the severity of symptoms and cause the sores to heal faster. Practice safer sex to the reduce risk of contracting herpes.
For any additional concerns about herpes, do not hesitate to ask your doctor.
How Can I Tell If It’s Scabies Or Herpes
Scabies is caused by tiny eight-legged mites that burrow into the skin to live, feed, and lay their eggs. There are millions of cases of scabies worldwide each year.
Herpes may be confused with scabies because both conditions can cause a skin rash of small, itchy bumps and blisters that spread through person-to-person contact. As with herpes, the scabies skin rash is sometimes seen in the genital area. It can be transmitted through close physical or sexual contact because the mites can move from one body to another. If you’ve never had scabies before, it can take two to six weeks to develop symptoms after the mites move in.
Unlike herpes, you can also get scabies from bedding, clothes, or furniture that’s infested with mites, since the mites can live for about three to four days without being on a human.
Also unlike herpes, scabies is most commonly found on the hands, arms, and legs, and the most common symptom is severe itching that occurs mainly at night.
Your dermatologist can tell if you have scabies by examining your skin or looking at a small piece of skin under a microscope, notes the American Academy of Dermatology.
Scabies is easily treated with a medicated cream or lotion that kills the mites.
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