How To Cope After Diagnosis
Many posters were occupied with the issue of passing on the infection. Yolandayw points out that you can minimise the risk of transmission by postponing sex until all the sores have healed. She also mentioned that condoms should be used. They won’t completely prevent transmission but they will help.
Ending on a positive note, many posters emphasised that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Learning of the diagnosis may feel stressful at first, but it’s a manageable condition and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Lucy03934 has had genital herpes for 25 years. She’s been married for 18 years and has two sons – living proof that there is life after herpes.
What Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a common viral infection caused by a virus known as the herpes simplex virus .
There are two types of the virus, types 1 and 2 . As well as genital herpes, HSV can infect your mouth and cause cold sores. HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections look the same and you can only tell them apart by lab testing.
Because genital herpes can be passed to others through sexual contact, it is often referred to as a sexually transmitted infection .
As many as 1 in 3 adults has the virus that causes genital herpes. Once you have HSV it remains in your body and becomes active again from time to time.
On average, symptoms of genital herpes are likely to recur 45 times in the first 2 years after being infected with HSV. However, over time the virus tends to become active less often and each time you get symptoms they are less severe.
Talk With Your Doctor About Herpes Medications
Its important to first talk with your doctor before using over-the-counter products like docosanol or other home remedies.
If this is the first time you have symptoms of HSV with blisters or sores, your doctor will first diagnose if you have HSV, the type and discuss options to manage your condition. They will tell you about prescription and nonprescription alternatives to treat your HSV infection.
Tell your doctor if you have any serious health conditions including if you have a weakened immune system.
Your doctor will also tell you what you can expect with an HSV infection, how long it may last, and what do to prevent spreading HSV to others while you have an active infection.
Here are answers to a few commonly asked questions about herpes simplex virus.
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How Is Genital Herpes Spread
Genital herpes is usually transmitted by having sexual contact with someone who carries HSV. You can get genital herpes through direct contact with an infected blister or sore, usually through sexual contact. You can also transmit or get the virus when you or your partner have no symptoms present .
Most people who infect others don’t realise they are putting their partners at risk.
- Around 80% of people with genital herpes don’t know they have the virus because they have very mild symptoms or none at all.
- More than 75% of people who have genital herpes get it from people who are entirely unaware that they have it themselves.
Using condoms reduces your risk of passing on the virus by about 50%, but does not remove it completely.
You cannot catch genital herpes by sharing cups, towels or bath water, or from toilet seats. It can only be spread by close skin-to-skin contact.
HSV that causes genital herpes does not cause cervical cancer.
Protecting Your Partner And Preventing Herpes Transmission
Research shows that the single greatest fear is the fear of transmission to partners, says Dr. Handsfield.
The main ways to avoid transmitting herpes are:
- Learn to recognize how you feel when an outbreak is on the way, and stop having sex immediately.
- Dont have sex during active outbreaks.
- Always use condoms but dont rely on them during outbreaks. They dont completely cover infectious areas.
- Only after all sores have scabbed over and healed should you have sex again.
- Avoid touching your herpes sores, because you can spread them to other places on your body that way. Whenever you touch a sore, wash your hands immediately.
- Dont kiss people or have sex if you have a cold sore.
- Tell potential partners about having herpes before having sex with them, even though it may be hard.
- Ask your doctor about taking antiviral drugs regularly.
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Antiviral Tablets To Stop The Herpes Virus Multiplying
Antiviral medicines taken by mouth, such as valaciclovir or acyclovir, are the most effective in controlling symptoms, although they cant cure genital herpes. They stop the virus from multiplying in body cells where the virus is present. The medicine only works while you are taking it. The infection can come back when you stop taking it.
Antiviral tablets are used in the following two ways:
- To treat outbreaks as they happen : The aim is to shorten the time each outbreak lasts and to relieve symptoms. This works best when taken as soon as you get symptoms and before the blisters appear.
- To prevent or reduce recurrences : If you get frequent or severe recurrent outbreaks, your doctor may recommend you take antiviral tablets every day to help prevent recurrences. Suppressive therapy is taken continuously, every day, for months or years. Suppressive antiviral therapy may help reduce the risk of transmitting the virus to sexual partners.
Antiviral creams bought over the counter from the pharmacy are not recommended as a treatment for a first episode or recurrent genital herpes as they are of little benefit. Antiviral tablets are the preferred treatment.
Herpes Symptoms And Signs
In order to diagnose herpes, a health care provider can swab an area of visibly active herpes infection or, if symptoms arent active, a blood test can be given that measures the number of herpes antibodies present in the body. The antibodies dont indicate herpes itself, but rather show the immune systems response to the presence of the virus in the body. Its important to note that sometimes a swab can give false negative results since herpes lesions need to be large enough to yield enough detectable virus and if the outbreak is already healing it also may not be detected in a swab.
The most common herpes symptoms include:
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Side Effects And Follow
Side effects with these herpes drugs are considered mild, and health experts believe these drugs are safe in the long term. Acyclovir is the oldest of the three, and its safety has been documented in people taking suppressive therapy for several years.
People taking suppressive therapy should see their doctor at least once a year to decide if they should continue. You may find taking the pills every day to be inconvenient, the drugs may not work for you, or you may naturally have fewer outbreaks as time goes on. Your doctor can help you make treatment choices to suit your needs.
Suppressive Therapy For Recurrent Hsv
Suppressive therapy reduces frequency of genital herpes recurrences by 70%80% among patients who have frequent recurrences . Persons receiving such therapy often report having experienced no symptomatic outbreaks. Suppressive therapy also is effective for patients with less frequent recurrences. Long-term safety and efficacy have been documented among patients receiving daily acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir . Quality of life is improved for many patients with frequent recurrences who receive suppressive therapy rather than episodic treatment . Providers should discuss with patients on an annual basis whether they want to continue suppressive therapy because frequency of genital HSV-2 recurrence diminishes over time for many persons. However, neither treatment discontinuation nor laboratory monitoring is necessary because adverse events and development of HSV antiviral resistance related to long-term antiviral use are uncommon.
Valacyclovir 500 mg orally 2 times/day for 3 daysOR
Valacyclovir 1 gm orally once daily for 5 days
*Acyclovir 400 mg orally 3 times/day is also effective, but are not recommended because of frequency of dosing.
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Facts And Statistics About Herpes
- According to the World Health Organization, an estimated two-thirds of the global population under 50 years old are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 .
- Estimates for HSV-1 prevalence in the U.S. among people aged 049 years are 178 million women and 142 million men .
- In total, about 75 percent or more of the American adult population has the HSV-1 virus that usually causes oral herpes , and about 20 percent to 30 percent have HSV-2 that usually causes genital herpes.
- Men and women are affected by HSV-1 about equally. Roughly 6 million women in the U.S. become infected with HSV-1 each year, along with 5 million men.
- Slightly more women than men are affected by genital herpes, whether from HSV-1 or HSV-2. Middle-aged women are most likely to acquire genital herpes.
- Transmission of HSV most often occurs without symptoms, so its estimated that 85 percent of people with genital herpes dont know it. Many dont have any symptoms at all after the initial infection, and only about 15 percent ever receive a HSV-2 infection diagnosis in their lifetimes.
- Most primary oral/facial HSV infections are caused by HSV-1 however, facial infection by HSV-2 is increasingly becoming common.
- Less children are becoming infected with HSV-1 than in the past in high-income countries, mostly due to better hygiene and living conditions.
- After someone comes into contact with an active herpes outbreak on another person, the incubation period takes about one week.
How Should I Take Zovirax
Take Zovirax exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets.
Start taking Zovirax as soon as possible after the first appearance of symptoms .
Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you do not understand these instructions.
Shake the oral suspension before you measure a dose. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device .
Acyclovir doses are based on weight . Your dose needs may change if you gain or lose weight.
Drink plenty of water while you are taking Zovirax to keep your kidneys working properly.
Use this medicine for the full prescribed length of time, even if your symptoms quickly improve. Skipping doses may increase the risk of your virus becoming resistant to medication.
Lesions caused by herpes viruses should be kept as clean and dry as possible. Wearing loose clothing may help to prevent irritation of the lesions.
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
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How To Get Rid Of Herpes Symptoms Naturally
By Joe Boland
Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases , prompting many to wonder how to get rid of herpes naturally.
The herpes virus can live dormant inside a persons immune system for a lifetime, periodically causing blisters that burst and turn into open cold sores or ulcers before healing. When left alone, herpes cold sores usually last about 1014 days and are uncomfortable for a variety of reasons causing redness, pain, burning and often embarrassment.
Many people wonder if there is a natural cure for herpes or are looking for ways on how to get rid of herpes for good. While technically the virus that causes herpes is not curable, there are many natural herpes remedies that can put herpes into remission. In fact, many people with herpes dont experience any symptoms at all, especially long term, once they learn to manage triggers of outbreaks. So while theres no guide for how to get rid of herpes naturally, there is a method for how to get rid of herpes symptoms the natural way and keep breakouts at bay.
What Other Drugs Will Affect Zovirax
Acyclovir can harm your kidneys, especially if you also use certain medicines for infections, cancer, osteoporosis, organ transplant rejection, bowel disorders, high blood pressure, or pain or arthritis .
Other drugs may interact with acyclovir, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.
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Drug Treatment For Genital Herpes
If you are infected with genital herpes, your doctor may prescribe oral antiviral drugs to help ease your symptoms during both a first episode and recurrent episodes. Your doctor may also suggest taking antiviral drugs daily as a suppressive therapy to reduce symptoms and protect partners.
Remember, though, that antiviral drugs do not wipe out the virus completely. It continues to live in your body, so if you stop taking the drugs that suppress it, you may have more frequent or more intense symptom outbreaks, and the risk of your transmitting the virus to others rises.
Three antiviral drugs, all taken by mouth, are used to treat genital herpes:
Before Taking This Medicine
You should not take Zovirax if you are allergic to acyclovir or valacyclovir .
To make sure Zovirax is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
kidney disease or
a weak immune system .
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Herpes can be passed to your baby during childbirth if you have a genital lesion when your baby is born. If you have genital herpes, it is very important to prevent herpes lesions during pregnancy. Take your medicine as directed to best control your infection.
It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.
Zovirax should not be given to a child younger than 2 years old.
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How Can I Treat Herpes At Home
Certain dietary supplementsâlike lysine, vitamin C, zinc, and probioticsâcan help support your immune system and prevent or shorten outbreaks. Once an outbreak has begun, applying cold compresses, licorice root extract, lemon balm oil, manuka honey, or garlic can reduce its severity and provide symptom relief.
How Do Dermatologists Treat Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. The good news is that sores often clear without treatment. Many people choose to treat herpes simplex because treatment can relieve symptoms and shorten an outbreak.
Most people are treated with an antiviral medicine. An antiviral cream or ointment can relieve the burning, itching, or tingling. An antiviral medicine that is oral or intravenous can shorten an outbreak of herpes.
Prescription antiviral medicines approved for the treatment of both types of herpes simplex include:
Taken daily, these medicines can lessen the severity and frequency of outbreaks. They also can help prevent infected people from spreading the virus.
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Valacyclovir For Genital Herpes
The antiviral medication valacyclovir is a pill that lessens the frequency and symptoms of genital herpes, and reduces the chance that youll pass the virus to a partner. You can take valacyclovir when you feel an outbreak coming on to lessen symptoms, or take a dose every day for prevention. Taking this medication every day reduces the likelihood of transmitting genital herpes to a partner by 50%. Valacyclovir is safe and effective, side effects are rare.Note: We only prescribe medication if youve previously had a genital herpes diagnosis. If you havent been diagnosed with herpes we suggest you see your local provider for diagnosis during your next outbreak.
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Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
Where Can I Get Medications For Herpes
The most common antiviral medications used to manage herpes simplex symptoms are available by prescription. If you have symptoms such as a cold sore or genital herpes, call your doctors office. They will first diagnose if you have herpes simplex. Then they will prescribe an appropriate medication to manage your symptoms.
Only docosanol is an antiviral medication available over the counter as a cream to manage oral symptoms such as cold sores or fever blisters.
- pain relievers such ibuprofen or acetaminophen to help with pain
- cold compress or ice to soothe burning or itching
- zinc oxide topical cream, which may help soothe itching or burning
Before trying over the counter medications or supplements, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist about your symptoms.
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