How Do You Get Herpes
There are two different herpes viruses: Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus type 2 .
While rare, a mother can pass genital herpes to the baby during vaginal childbirth.
Herpes is most easily transmitted when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also shed and be passed to others when there are no sores and the skin looks totally normal. Most people get herpes from someone who does not have any sores. When used consistently and correctly, condoms help protect against herpes and many other STDs.
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When Is Treatment Necessary
Herpes can cause blisters to form on or around the mouth or genitals. These blisters then break, forming open, painful sores that may take at least 1 week to heal.
The symptoms may clear up on their own, and they may reappear later, in what some people call outbreaks or flare ups.
Once the virus enters the body, it never completely goes away. Some triggers that can cause herpes symptoms to reappear include:
- friction in the genital area
- a weakened immune system
Doctors may prescribe one of the following antiviral medications to help manage herpes symptoms. A person can also take some steps at home to ease the symptoms, and we describe these later in the article.
Please note, the writer has not tested these products. All information is research-based.
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:
- Developing either a single cold sore or cluster of multiple cold sores that form on the lips, inside the mouth, or on the genitals, buttocks and upper thighs.
- Sores can sometimes be severe, painful and rupture and cause fluid to be secreted out.
- Some herpes canker sores develop a thin, white coating and burn when touched while they healing.
- Around herpes cold sores, its common to feel pain, tenderness and other symptoms of a rash, such as redness or signs of swelling.
- Some people are able to tell before an outbreak if one is going to occur because they feel tingling, itchy sensations near the affected area.
- Some people develop other symptoms during herpes outbreaks that are similar to those caused by a cold or the flu. This may include fatigue, irritability, aches or a slight fever.
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Can Antivirals Prevent The Spread Of Viral Infections
Yes, antiviral drugs can keep you from getting certain viral infections after a suspected or known exposure. For instance, taking specific antivirals:
- During pregnancy lowers the risk of a mother passing HIV to her newborn .
- Daily lowers the risk of giving herpes or HIV to others or getting HIV from an infected partner.
- Within 72 hours of a potential HIV exposure can lower the chances of getting infected.
- Within 48 hours of exposure to the flu virus may keep you from getting sick.
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How Is Genital Herpes Spread
If you do not have herpes, you can get infected if you come into contact with the herpes virus in:
- Saliva or genital secretions
- Skin in the oral area if your partner has an oral herpes infection, or skin in the genital area if your partner has a genital herpes infection.
You can get herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a sex partner who has oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels. If you have additional questions about how herpes is spread, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
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What Are Side Effects Associated With Using Acyclovir
Common side effects or health problems may include:
- Oral medication
- Severe allergic reaction
This is not a complete list of side effects and other serious side effects or health problems may occur as a result of the use of this drug. Call your doctor for medical advice about serious side effects or adverse reactions. You may report side effects or health problems to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Herpes Causes And Risk Factors
Causes of herpes include acquiring the virus through sexual contact, coupled with immune system suppression and sometimes nutritional deficiencies.
HSV-1 is primarily transmitted by oral-oral contact. On the other hand, HSV-2 is considered a sexually transmitted disease and usually passed during oral or vaginal sex.
A scary finding is that more cases of genital herpes than ever before are now being caused by HSV-1 , and about 85 percent of people with genital herpes dont even know it. Studies show that about 50 percent of the new genital herpes infections in young adults are due to HSV-1 and about 40 percent in older adults. The fact that most people dont ever find out theyre infected is one of the reasons that transmission rates are steadily climbing.
Risk factors for acquiring herpes include:
- Kissing someone who has symptoms of an active herpes virus
- Engaging in any form of unprotected sex
- Having sex with multiple partners
- Spreading the virus through contact with cold sores on the eyes, secretions on the fingers, or ulcers/sores on buttocks and upper thighs
- Having certain other illnesses that lower immune function, such as HIV/AIDS, an autoimmune disorder or hepatitis
- Eating a poor diet that causes nutrient deficiencies and lowered immunity
- Smoking cigarettes, drinking high amounts of alcohol or abusing drugs
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What Are Antiviral Medications For Herpes
There are three antiviral medications that are FDA-approved for the treatment of genital herpes:
- Acyclovir: The oldest antiviral medication for herpes is acyclovir. It has been available since 1982 in a topical form and sold since 1985 in pill form. Acyclovir has been shown to be safe in persons who have used it continuously for as long as 10 years.
- Valacyclovir: A newer drug, valacyclovir, actually uses acyclovir as its active ingredient. This medication delivers acyclovir more efficiently so that the body absorbs much of the drug, which has the advantage of taking the medication fewer times during the day.
- Famciclovir: Famciclovir uses penciclovir as its active ingredient to stop HSV from replicating. Like valacyclovir, it is well absorbed, persists for a longer time in the body, and can be taken less frequently than acyclovir.
Antiviral medication is commonly prescribed for patients having a first episode of genital herpes, but they can be used for recurrent episodes as well. There are two kinds of treatment regimens: episodic therapy and suppressive therapy.
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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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.
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.
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Other Uses For This Medicine
Acyclovir is also sometimes used to treat eczema herpeticum to treat and prevent herpes infections of the skin, eyes, nose, and mouth in patients with human immunodeficiency virus , and to treat oral hairy leukoplakia .
This medication may be prescribed for other uses ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
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Types Of Antiviral Drugs
There are three oral antivirals recommended for the treatment of oral or genital herpes:
|Famvir, 250 mg||Twice daily|
Preventing genital herpes recurrence is important as it reduces the risk of HIV. According to the CDC, having an active genital herpes infection increases the risk of HIV by 200% to 300%.
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How Herpes Is Treated
There is no cure for herpes.
- The health care provider may prescribe antiviral medicine to help speed up the healing process. It also shortens the time when the virus can spread from the herpes sores.
- Pain may be treated with medicine such as Tylenol or Motrin or by applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel to the affected area.
- If sores are in the mouth, avoid foods high in acid, like citrus fruits and juices.
- The infected area should be kept clean and dry.
- Wash hands often and avoid touching the sores to prevent spreading the virus.
- It is important to stay healthy by getting enough rest, having proper nutrition and exercise and managing stress well.
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.
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Related Resouruces For Herpes
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This article is not medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.
How To Take Aciclovir
- Swallow your aciclovir tablets with a glass of water. If you have difficulty swallowing the tablet, the tablet can be dissolved in a small glass of water. Stir until dissolved. Drink all the water to make sure you get the full dose.
- Timing: Separate your doses out evenly during the day. For example, if your dose is to be taken 5 times a day, take a dose about every 4 hours such as 7am, 11am, 3pm, 7pm and 11pm. You can take aciclovir with or without food.
- Drink plenty of water while taking aciclovir. Itâs important todrink plenty of water so you donât get dehydrated while taking aciclovir.This could affect your kidneys.This is especially important for older adults.
- Missed dose: If you forget to take your dose, take it as soon as you remember but, if it is nearly time for your next dose, just take the next dose at the right time. Do not take double the dose.
- Keep taking aciclovir until the course is finished. Do not stop taking it, even if you feel better after a few days. Your doctor will advise you on how long to take aciclovir for .
- Wear sunscreen when outside. Protect yourself from too much sunlight while being treated with aciclovir. Always cover up and apply a thick layer of broad spectrum sunscreen when outside. Do not use sunbeds.
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One Option For Ongoing Therapy: Taking Drugs Regularly
Some people with genital herpes choose to take antiviral medication daily to reduce the number of symptom outbreaks they have. In some cases, daily therapy prevents outbreaks completely.
Numerous studies over the years have demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of all three of the approved antivirals used to treat genital herpes.
Studies have also shown that daily antiviral therapy reduces the rate of transmission from an HSV-2 infected person to an uninfected partner of the opposite sex.
Daily therapy also lowers the odds of infecting other people if you have multiple sex partners or if you are a man who has sex with men.
The drugs work both for people who have had herpes symptoms and for those whose blood tests show they have an HSV-2 infection but who have never had symptoms.
Some people choose to take antiviral drugs only as needed, for outbreaks that occur after the first one. For this to work, you need to start taking the medicine within one day of sores cropping up or during the time period that comes before some outbreaks.
During the prodrome, you may feel
- Burning in the area where the virus first entered your body
- Itching or tingling in that area
- Pain in your back, buttocks, thighs, or knees
Your doctor will probably give you a prescription you can fill and keep handy for timely use, and tell you to start taking the drugs just as soon as symptoms begin.
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 youre infected with the herpes virus.
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Treatment Options + Pricing
If you experience outbreaks often, a daily dose of valacyclovir can prevent them and make it less likely that youll pass herpes to partners. If your outbreaks are less frequent you might choose to only take valacyclovir when you feel an outbreak coming on this will lessen the outbreaks severity and help it heal faster. We bill insurance if you have it, and out-of-pocket prices are detailed below.
|$0 + applicable co-pays or deductible||$45 for a 3 month supply|
|Valacyclovir for Daily Prevention|
*For a 90-day supply of daily valacyclovir the out-of-pocket price is 83 cents per pill.
Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes
Theres no cure for the herpes virus yet. A herpes vaccine doesnt currently exist, as the herpes virus has more complicated DNA than most infections, creating challenges for researchers.
However, medication can help with symptoms, like sores, and outbreaks. Medication also lowers the risk of transmission to others. You can take most medications for herpes orally, though you may also apply some as a cream or receive them by injection.
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