Of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2
This virus, like herpes simplex type 1, can also cause infection of the brain if the immune system is severely defective or compromised. The treatment of infection with herpes simplex type 2 is usually by topical or oral anti-viral medication, although intravenous therapy is required to treat infections of the brain .
Herpes simplex type 2 is also known as human herpesvirus 2 .
How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other skin conditions like a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people do not know they have a herpes infection.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. This is known as having an outbreak. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Flu-like symptoms also may occur during the first outbreak.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they have HSV-2. However, repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although genital herpes is a lifelong infection, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
Ask a healthcare provider to examine you if:
- You notice any symptoms or
- Your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.
STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods .
Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2
Herpes simplex virus type 2 spreads through sexual contact and is a type of sexually transmitted infection .
Both types of HSV develop as a result of direct contact with the virus.
HSV-1 most commonly spreads through oral-to-oral contact, which can be with sores, saliva, or the area around the mouth. Transmission may also occur due to sharing lip balm, a toothbrush, or any other product that has come into contact with HSV.
People have a much higher risk of contracting HSV-1 if they come into contact with someone who has an active outbreak of symptoms. In some cases, it is also possible for people to transmit HSV-1 during sexual activity.
Transmission of HSV-2
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Why You Should Go To A Sexual Health Clinic
You can see a GP, but they’ll probably refer you to a sexual health clinic if they think you might have genital herpes.
Sexual health clinics treat problems with the genitals and urine system.
Many sexual health clinics offer a walk-in service, where you do not need an appointment.
They’ll often get test results quicker than GP practices and you do not have to pay a prescription fee for treatment.
How To Prevent Herpes Outbreaks
- A healthy, robust immune system helps keep the virus at bay, so active living and maintaining a balanced diet may assist in preventing recurring outbreaks.
- Avoiding excessive alcohol consumption is also thought to reduce the chance of a flare-up.
- Stress is thought to be a trigger for herpes outbreaks, so ensuring quality sleep and other stress-reducing activities can aid in keeping herpes at bay.
- Medication such as aciclovir and valaciclovir can be taken over a long period of time, to reduce the number of outbreaks. Typically, those that suffer from 6 or more outbreaks a year, are offered suppression therapy.
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How To Prevent An Outbreak
Some people only take their medications if they feel the itching and tingling that means an outbreak is coming on — or when sores show up — to stop it from getting worse. Your doctor may suggest you take an antiviral every day if you:
- Have lots of outbreaks
- Want to prevent more outbreaks
- Want to lower the risk of spreading it to your partner
The First Episode Of Herpes
Genital herpes usually appear in the form of an episode and therefore is interspersed with periods without symptoms. Although a person can pass on the infection s/he might not even notice the symptoms. On the other hand the recipient of the infection might notice the symptoms within a few days/week after getting infected. The first episode of this infection generally occurs within 1-2 weeks after the virus has been transmitted.
Some of the classic symptoms of genital herpes are mild herpes rash, sores and ulcers. These typical lesions of genital herpes look just like tiny pimples which crusts with time and ultimately scabs like a minor cut. It might take somewhere between 2-4 weeks for these lesions to heal.
Genital herpes lesions and close-up view of herpes simplex viruses attaching to human cells, 3D illustration
During this period some individuals might experience a second bout of lesions while others might experience symptoms resembling a flu. This could include fever and swelling of glands especially in the lymph nodes around the groin. Other symptoms of the first episode might also include difficulty and pain while urinating and headache.
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Herpes Simplex Vs Chickenpox
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
Getty Images / AlesVeluscek
With the chickenpox, note that each blister in this photo has its own red base and is not clustered in a group like HSV.
And, unlike HSV, a chickenpox rash can leave behind scars after it heals.
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 isnt infected.
Use a latex condom, which can reduce but not entirely prevent the risk of infection.
Avoid kissing people with cold sore blisters. Its important to keep in mind that most people have already been infected with HSV1 virus by the time theyre 20 years old. If youve 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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Typical Healing Of Genital Herpes Sores
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
DermNet / CC BY-NC-ND
In addition to pain, the oozing sores will often have a “fishy” smell in both females and males. The smell can increase after sex due to the abrasion of skin on skin.
The timeline of a genital herpes outbreak can vary. With primary herpes, the outbreak will usually occur within four days of exposure to the virus .
A genital herpes outbreak may last up to seven to 10 days, particularly with the first outbreak. After crusting, healing usually occurs within two to four weeks, typically with no scarring.
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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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.
First And Subsequent Episodes
The first genital herpes outbreak will generally be worse than the ones that follow. During a first outbreak, the appearance of lesions will often be accompanied by:
- Pain or burning with urination
- Unusual vaginal discharge
Subsequent attacks tend to be shorter and less severe. They are often preceded by genital pain or shooting pain in the legs, hip, or buttocks several hours or days before the attack.
Over time, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease and become less severe.
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When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider
Treating herpes meningoencephalitis as soon as possible is essential. If youre feeling neck stiffness, having any neurological problems , are sensitive to light, or are running a fever along with a bad headache, call your healthcare provider and have the problem treated promptly.
If you have already been diagnosed with herpes meningoencephalitis and are being treated, it’s very important to let your healthcare providers know if any of your symptoms get worse or if you develop any new symptoms, as these could be signs that the infection is getting worse despite treatment.
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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How Does Genital Herpes Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby
Neonatal herpes is one of the most serious complications of genital herpes.5,16 Healthcare providers should ask all pregnant women if they have a history of genital herpes.11 Herpes infection can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth, or babies may be infected shortly after birth, resulting in a potentially fatal neonatal herpes infection. 17 Infants born to women who acquire genital herpes close to the time of delivery and are shedding virus at delivery are at a much higher risk for developing neonatal herpes, compared with women who have recurrent genital herpes . 16,18-20 Thus, it is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. Women should be counseled to abstain from intercourse during the third trimester with partners known to have or suspected of having genital herpes. 5,11
How Its Transmitted
Once the virus has made contact, it spreads in the body through mucous membranes. These are thin layers of tissue found around openings in the body like your nose, mouth, and genitals.
Then, the virus invades the cells in your body with the DNA or RNA material that makes them up. This allows them to essentially become a part of your cell and replicate themselves whenever your cells do.
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When To Seek Care
Home remedies may be enough to help you get through an outbreak before it heals and goes away.
But seek immediate medical attention if herpes symptoms are disruptive to your daily life or if youre experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Sores or blisters dont go away on their own after 2 weeks or get worse over time.
- Pain or discomfort becomes severe and distracting, even with home treatment.
- You have severe symptoms like a fever that dont get any better for more than a week.
- You have severe pain or discomfort when you urinate or have a bowel movement.
- You feel any hardness or lumps under the skin around the infected area or in your genital area.
- You have trouble passing urine or stool or cant do either without severe pain or obstruction.
Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
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Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner about their risk. Using condoms may help lower this risk but it will not get rid of the risk completely. Having sores or other symptoms of herpes can increase your risk of spreading the disease. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.
You may have concerns about how genital herpes will impact your health, sex life, and relationships. While herpes is not curable, it is important to know that it is manageable with medicine. Daily suppressive therapy can lower your risk of spreading the virus to others. Talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns and treatment options.
A genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships. Knowing how to talk to sexual partners about STDs is important.
What Can I Do
The best way to reduce the risk of genital herpes infect is to use a condom during sexual intercourse, because those who are infected often do not know about it. If you have on-going herpes outbreak with blisters, you should completely refrain from having unprotected sex because the risk of infection is greatest then. Taking known antiviral drugs before sexual intercourse with someone who is infected with herpes do not provide 100 percent protection.
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What Causes Herpes Meningoencephalitis
Meningitis and encephalitis may be caused by bacteria, fungi, or other types of germs. But many are caused by viruses, and many kinds of viruses can be to blame.
Encephalitis is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Most are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 , the virus that also causes cold sores. The disease may also be caused by herpes virus type 2 . This virus can be spread by sexual contact or from an infected mother to her baby during childbirth. HSV1 infection can also be sexually transmitted to the genital area. These viruses remain in the body throughout a person’s life, even when they’re not causing signs of infection.
Sometimes the meningoencephalitis occurs during the initial infection with the herpes simplex virus, but most often it is caused by reactivation of the virus from an earlier infection.
What Are The Early Stages Of Genital Herpes
The early onset of genital herpes can present in a number of different ways. Generally speaking, the first symptom that you are likely to notice is inflammation of the skin around your genitals, resulting in a burning or itching sensation.
Symptoms typically surface within 1-2 weeks of infection. This stage is identified as the prodrome or beginning stage. The appearance of inflammation indicates the virus has progressed to the surface of the skin.
Symptoms during the early stages can include:
- Burning or itching around the genitals
- Pain when urinating
- Fever and/or flu symptoms
For women, the first signs of genital herpes usually present inside the labia, are associated with painful urination and unusual vaginal discharge. Inflammation of the cervix can also be a sign of infection.
For men, the outbreak of genital herpes in the urethra results in the same symptoms, a burning feeling when urinating.
The incubation period is the time from exposure, to when symptoms will first appear. Whilst the average time is 1-2 weeks, this can vary with some people not displaying symptoms for months, or even years after becoming infected. Although rare, some people may never experience symptoms at all.
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Is That Spot A Pimple Or A Cold Sore
Acne is the most common skin condition in teens and young adults in the United States, and its increasingly common among women in their thirties, forties, and fifties. It can cause a range of blemishes variously known as blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules , cysts, and nodules, according to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases.
Acne is sometimes confused with oral herpes because of the way a breakout looks. Although oral herpes sores usually appear as small, clear blisters filled with fluid, in some instances they can look more like the reddened skin and pimples associated with acne. However, herpes is typically associated with more itchiness and pain than acne.
And whereas oral herpes sores are usually found on the mouth, lips, chin, cheeks, or nose, acne can break out on any area of the face as well as on the neck, chest, back, and shoulders.
Acne is caused by excess skin oil, clogged pores, and bacteria not the herpes virus. Hormones, stress, certain medicines, and sometimes diet can trigger or worsen acne outbreaks. While a single pimple may clear up in a few days, a larger acne outbreak may last for weeks to months.
Acne is not contagious, and topical and oral medication can help heal pimples, stop new pimples from forming, and prevent scars. To avoid scarring, don’t squeeze or pop pimples.