What Are Signs Of Genital Herpes In Women
Women who have the herpes virus may have nooutbreaks or signs of infection. Many do not know theyhave the virus. Once you are infected, the virus staysin your nerve cells for life. When the virus is not active,there is no sign of infection. When the virus becomesactive, a herpes outbreak occurs. Some womenmay not have any outbreaks or may have only oneoutbreak, while others may have multiple outbreaks.
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Can Genital Herpes Reoccur
Repeat outbreaks of genital herpes are common, especially during the first year of infection.
After invading the skin or mucous membranes, the virus that causes genital herpes travels to the sensory nerves at the end of the spinal cord. Even after the skin lesions have disappeared, the virus remains inside the nerve cells in a latent state. In most people, the virus reactivates from time to time. When this happens, the virus travels along the nerves to the skin, where it multiplies on the surface at or near the site of the original herpes sores, causing new lesions to erupt. It also can reactivate without any visible sores. At these times, small amounts of the virus may be shed at, or near, sites of the original infection, in genital or oral secretions, or from inapparent lesions. This shedding is infrequent, but it is sufficient to infect a sex partner.
The symptoms of recurrent episodes are usually milder than those of the first episode and typically last about a week. A recurrent outbreak may be signaled by a tingling sensation or itching in the genital area or pain in the buttocks or down the leg. These are called prodromal symptoms and, for some people, they can be the most painful and annoying part of a recurrent episode.
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.
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Other Types Of Herpes
Other types of herpes can infect humans in different ways. The varicella-zoster herpes virus, for example, causes chickenpox and the shingles. Vaccines are available to prevent this form of the virus altogether.
Epstein-Barr virus , also known as human herpesvirus 4, can cause infectious mononucleosis and other illnesses.
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes
The symptoms of HSV-1 and HSV-2 are similar, though the site of infection is often the differentiating factor.
HSV-1 primarily causes cold sores on the lips, though they can also appear on the chin or neck in some circumstances.
HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes, which is characterised by ulcers and small grouped blisters around the genitals.
Both strains of human simplex virus can cause blisters on the fingers called Herpetic Whitlow’s. These are rare and usually occur when you touch an infected blister or sore.
It is important not to pop or drain the blisters yourself.
Heres what to do if a blister bursts:
If you require assistance or advice, speak to a pharmacist.
A burst blister will scab over and typically heal within four weeks’ time. Keep the area clean and avoid picking at the skin around the blister.
If you suspect your blister has become infected, see your GP. Infected blisters, which are often look red, feel hot and are filled with green or yellow pus, require specific treatment to prevent the risk of skin or blood infections.
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How Do People Get Shingles
People get shingles when the virus that causes chicken pox, varicella zoster, is reactivated in their body. The varicella zoster virus doesn’t leave the body, even after a person has recovered from chicken pox. It can flare up again, causing shingles, often many years after a person has had chicken pox. The virus tends to reactivate when a person’s immune system is weakened because of another health problem.
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Most individuals infected with HSV are asymptomatic or have very mild symptoms that go unnoticed or are mistaken for another skin condition. 9 When symptoms do occur, herpes lesions typically appear as one or more vesicles, or small blisters, on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The average incubation period for an initial herpes infection is 4 days after exposure. 10 The vesicles break and leave painful ulcers that may take two to four weeks to heal after the initial herpes infection. 5,10 Experiencing these symptoms is referred to as having a first herpes outbreak or episode.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Shingles
People with shingles often experience pain, tingling or itching and then a painful rash. The rash can occur anywhere on the body, although it is usually in one strip on the right or left side of the body. The rash consists of groups of small, fluid-filled blisters that dry, scab over, and heal in a few weeks. Healing is usually complete, but some people may be left with scars.
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
There are also potential complications for a pregnant woman and her newborn child. See How does herpes infection affect a pregnant woman and her baby? below for information about this.
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How Is Genital Herpes Transmitted
The infection is usually acquired by sexual contact with someone who has genital herpes. People with oral herpes can transmit the infection to the genital area of a partner during oral-genital sex. Herpes infections also can be transmitted by a person who is infected with HSV but has no noticeable symptoms. Such asymptomatic shedding of the virus may be fairly common, occurring from 5 percent to 20 percent of the time in infected individuals. HSV-1 can cause sores in the genital area and infections of the mouth and lips, so-called fever blisters. HSV-1 infection of the genitals is caused by mouth to genital or genital to genital contact with a person who has HSV-1 infection.
Transmission from an infected male to his female partner is more likely than from an infected female to her male partner. Because of this, genital HSV-2 infection is more common in women than in men .
There’s A Good Chance That You Have Herpes
If you catch chlamydia or gonorrhea, you can have it treated with antibiotics and it will go away. However, there is no cure for herpes. So once someone has it, she has it for life. Over an entire population, the cases just add up over time. This means that middle-aged adults have some shockingly high herpes rates. For example, 50 to 70 percent of single women aged 45 to 50 have herpes. , aka genital herpes. The other type is “oral herpes,” HSV-1, although both viruses can infect people in both, um, places.)
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The Health Risks Of Genital Herpes
Pain and discomfort are the main health effects of genital herpes, but the virus can also cause emotional and social problems for those infected. Although it cannot be cured, genital herpes can be managed with antiviral medication that may help control the recurrences. On rare occasions, genital herpes may cause serious complications such as blindness and inflammation of the brain.
Genital herpes can sometimes be passed from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy or birth. The infection can be life-threatening to the child or result in skin lesions or brain damage. Antiviral medication and a cesarean delivery can reduce the risk of infecting the child.
Most People With Herpes Are Asymptomatic
Despite its prevalence, a surprising number of people are asymptomatic and never know they have herpes! This puts them at higher risk of spreading the herpes virus to others unintentionally.
Up to 80% of all HSV2 infections are asymptomatic. However, a lack of symptoms doesnt always stop viral shedding in the genital tract. Its still possible for asymptomatic people to shed the virus and spread it through oral or sexual contact with a partner.
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What Is The Difference Between Genital Herpes And Genital Warts
Both genital herpes and are STIs, are spread through skin-to-skin contact, and are caused by a virus. But the viruses that cause genital herpes and genital warts are different:
- Herpes simplex virus is the virus that causes genital herpes.
- is the virus that causes genital warts.
There is no cure for either genital herpes or genital warts. But, different medicines can help manage the symptoms of herpes and treat the complications of HPV infections that can cause genital warts.
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Should I Tell My Partner/s I Have Herpes
There isnt a rule as to whether you should tell a partner about having herpes. Some people dont tell their sexual partner/s and choose not to have sex during an episode and practice safer sex by using condoms/dental dams. Suppressive therapy plus safer sex can reduce risk of transmission to a partner significantly.
If youre concerned about passing on genital herpes, be upfront with your sexual partner/s before you engage in sexual activity. Communication is key at this point. If someone is genuinely interested in you before you tell them you have herpes, they should be after you tell them as well.
Given that a majority of Australians have been exposed to the herpes virus, theres a good chance they have already been exposed as well. If you have your first episode while already having a sexual partner then they have probably already been exposed but most likely will not have symptoms. And remember first episode doesnt necessarily mean it came from a current partner, you could have been exposed many years ago.
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How Is Genital Herpes Treated
If you have suffered a first episode of genital herpes, it is recommended to visit your GP or Sexual Health clinic to discuss your symptoms. If appropriate, the doctor can prescribe a five day course of antiviral tablets to suppress the virus. The medication will shorten the duration of the outbreak, but unfortunately not remove the virus from the body. If you suffer repeated outbreaks, see your GP. In severe cases, your doctor can prescribe medication, but for milder cases, simple home treatments can help to ease symptoms:
- Keep the area clean with plain or salt water. This will help prevent infection and encourage healing.
- A wrapped ice pack can be placed gently on sores to help soothe pain and speed up the healing process. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
- Apply petroleum jelly or a topical anaesthetic cream to any blisters or ulcers to reduce the pain when you pass urine.
- Drink plenty of fluids to dilute your urine. This will make passing urine less painful.
- Avoid wearing tight clothing.
It is important to avoid any sexual activity with your partner until both of you are blister free. It is also best to avoid sharing towels to limit spread of the virus.
Myth #: A Blood Test Is The Best Way To Know If You Have Herpes
Blood tests are not always accurate and testing for herpes can be tricky. It can take two weeks to six months after being exposed to herpes before it is detected in the blood. To make matters more complicated, if you are low risk for herpes and asymptomatic, it increases your risk of a false positive result. Because of this, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against routine testing for herpes unless you or your partner have symptoms. The most accurate test is when you are able to take a swab sample from a new herpes lesion, but often times the diagnosis is made by a clinician based on your history and report of symptoms.
Because the blood test can be expensive and inaccurate, it is not typically included in a sexually transmitted disease evaluation unless you ask your provider for it specifically.
In short, if you dont have symptoms, you dont necessarily need a blood test. If you do experience an outbreak, a skin swab not a blood test is your best bet for confirmation.
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Myth #: People Cannot Spread Herpes To Others Unless They Have Sores Or Blisters
Fact: People can spread herpes to others at any time, including when they do not have any symptoms.
People with herpes may experience outbreaks and remissions. During an outbreak, a person has active sores or blisters, but in remission, they may have no symptoms at all.
The virus is usually more contagious when a person has an outbreak, but it can also spread when it is in remission.
Study Finds Herpes Virus In 98 Percent Of Healthy Participants
- Louisiana State University Health Science Center
- A study led by Dr. Herbert Kaufman, Boyd Professor of Ophthalmology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, published in the January issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, found that 98% of the participants who are healthy individuals with no evidence of any symptoms did in fact shed herpes simplex virus type I DNA in their tears and saliva at least once during the course of the 30-day study.
A study led by Dr. Herbert Kaufman, Boyd Professor of Ophthalmology at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, published in the January issue of Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, found that 98% of the participants who are healthy individuals with no evidence of any symptoms did in fact shed herpes simplex virus type I DNA in their tears and saliva at least once during the course of the 30-day study. The study was undertaken to assess the frequency of shedding of HSV-1 DNA in tears and saliva of asymptomatic individuals.
While not the first, the researchers report that this study uses the most sensitive techniques in a cross-sectional assessment performed to date of the presence of HSV-1 DNA in the eyes and mouths of healthy individuals, in terms of population size and total samples collected.
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Theres A Cure And A Vaccination For Herpes
Unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccination for herpes. The structure and behavior of the herpes simplex virus makes it difficult to develop an effective vaccine, though scientists continue to try.
As much as people with herpes wish for a cure, this infection is currently a lifelong condition. But the good news is that antiviral medications and high-powered light treatment with Luminance RED can help to reduce and prevent painful outbreaks.
What If I Am Pregnant
While neonatal herpes is a serious condition, it is also very rare. Less than 0.1% of babies born in the United States each year get neonatal herpes. By contrast, some 20-25% of pregnant women have genital herpes. This means that most women with genital herpes give birth to healthy babies.
A mother helps the baby by passing her antibodies to the infant during pregnancy, so women who acquire genital herpes before becoming pregnant have a low risk of passing the virus to their baby.A woman who contracts genital herpes during the third trimester of pregnancy is at a higher risk of passing herpes to the baby because she has not had time to build up antibodies to the virus.
Most mothers with genital herpes have normal vaginal deliveries. Learn more about herpes and pregnancy.
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A Herpes Diagnosis Means You Can Kiss Your Love Life Goodbye
Most people who are aware and open about their status will tell you that dating with herpes is hard. While it is probably true that disclosing your STD status will deter a few partners, a herpes diagnosis is not the end-all be-all of your love life. Many infected individuals have fulfilling sex lives, and oftentimes, with individuals who do not have herpes.
Honesty is always the best policy, but because there is such a stigma associated with herpes, many of those living with the disease are afraid to disclose their status. This is why it is incredibly important that we all do our due diligence and educate ourselves. As previously mentioned, there is only a four to 10 percent chance that those infected with the virus will transmit herpes during an asymptomatic periodand that is without a condom. With a condom, the chances plunge to about one or two percent.
Furthermore, safe sex practices, in combination with the daily use of drugs like Valtrex during an asymptomatic period slices your chances of contraction to less than one percent. You have a greater chance of becoming a millionaire . Just because your partner has herpes doesnt mean that you will eventually get herpes, too. Again, there is no foolproof way to avoid risk of contraction other than abstinence, but there are ways to significantly reduce your chances.