What Do Genital Herpes Symptoms Look Like
Other symptoms can include:
- tingling or burning around the genitals
- feeling unwell, with aches, pains and flu-like symptoms
- unusual vaginal discharge in women.
Many people with genital herpes wont get any symptoms, or may get symptoms for the first time months or even years after they were infected.
For most people, the blisters go away within one to two weeks. Although the outbreaks clear-up by themselves, the virus stays in the body. This means that people usually get blisters again which is called having a recurrent outbreak. Outbreaks usually become shorter and less severe over time.
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.
Before You Judge Me Let Me Explain
Since being diagnosed with herpes about a year ago, Ive been torn between telling potential sexual partners about my status. All the advice out there seems to boil down to the sad, impossible truth: Given how low the risks of transmission are, how unlikely it is that youll have any symptoms if you do get it, and how manageable it is if you do have symptoms, you really shouldnt have to tell potential sexual partners. And yet, you just do. It is just the responsible and respectful thing to do. It seems that the reasons behind this heartbreaking conclusion are 1) you might transmit the virus to your partner, and even if they dont get any symptoms, they could pass it on to someone else, thus perpetuating the vicious life cycle of an STI and 2) even if youre not worried about passing it on, if you end up in a longer-term situation with someone youll have to disclose your herpes diagnosis at some point, right? Because not telling them would be dishonest. And a relationship built on lies is bound to fail, right? You couldnt deal with that level of deceit between you and a long-term romantic partner, could you? No. Best to tell them. It sucks that you have to and we wish we lived in a society where there wasnt this much stigma around genital herpes, but we do and therefore you are obliged to disclose your status.
How is this possible? Okay, are you ready for it? This is gonna flip your lid.
You May Like: How To Get Rid Of Mouth Herpes
How Do Doctors Diagnose Oral Herpes
A doctor will base a presumptive diagnosis on information provided by the patient and on the physical examination. The characteristic appearance of the herpes sores leaves little doubt about the diagnosis, so the typical appearance of the sores is key to the diagnosis. This appearance helps distinguish oral herpes from oral thrush, shingles, gonorrhea, and syphilis. In addition, chapped or sunburned lips can resemble oral herpes, but the tissue stain shows no virus-induced cell changes. Further testing is usually not necessary but is sometimes done.
If a definitive diagnosis is needed, because, for example, the infection involves other organ systems, the doctor may conduct laboratory tests listed below:
- A sample from the sores to identify the virus as HSV
- A viral culture analysis
Also Check: How To Clear Genital Herpes Fast
Choose The Right Moment To Chat
One of the hardest aspects of telling someone you have genital herpes is choosing the right moment. Perfect, distraction-free one-on-one conversations rarely play out like they do in the movies, meaning you might need to improvise a little in this category.
If you need to tell a romantic and potential sexual partner that you have herpes, its essential that you do this before you have any sexual contact. Herpes can spread easily, and theres a real risk of transmission even if you arent experiencing an outbreak.
Generally, the best time to explain to your partner that you have herpes is when you start to think that sexual contact is on the horizon. After a date, your partner might invite you to their home, sending an obvious signal that theyre open to the idea of escalating the relationship.
Once youre alone and comfortable, its generally the best time to get the herpes conversation out of the way. In the next sections, weve provided some techniques that you can use to help make the conversation a little more manageable.
You May Like: How To Get Tested For Herpes For Free
Read Also: How To Soothe Herpes Sores
Can I Treat Herpes Simplex At Home
Avoiding known triggers, such as illness or stress, can help reduce how often you have herpes outbreaks.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-1 ?
- Over-the-counter creams such as L-lysine, benzocaine or docosanol .
- Applying ice to blisters or sores.
How can I ease my symptoms during an outbreak of HSV-2 ?
- Apply an ice pack to your genitals. Wrap the ice pack in a washcloth or apply it over your underwear.
- Keep your genitals dry. Wear cotton or other nonsynthetic underpants and avoid tight-fitting clothes. Moist sores take longer to heal.
- Soak in a warm bath.
Also Check: How To Help Herpes Breakouts
Herpes Diagnosis And Treatment
If you think you might have genital herpes, itâs a good idea to get tested. You can make an appointment with your healthcare provider or a clinic in your areaâor you can take an at-home STD test.
While there is no cure for either herpes type, antiviral medications can effectively reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms. Medications can also minimize the risk of transmitting the herpes virus to someone else.
The Everlywell at-home STD test checks for 6 common STDs, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, hepatitis C, HIV, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Your healthcare provider may consider your symptoms along with your test results to arrive at a diagnosis.
Don’t Miss: How To Treat Herpes Sores On Buttocks
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.
How Can Genital Herpes Be Prevented
There is not yet a vaccine to protect against the herpes virus. There are a number of things to consider which may reduce your risks of getting genital herpes or of passing it on to others. These include:
- Consider the use of condoms always, even in settled relationships. This is because a person can carry the herpes virus for a very long time and pass it on without ever being aware of it. Condoms do not completely protect against herpes but they reduce the risk.
- The more sexual partners you have, the more the risk of picking up any STI, including herpes. So avoiding having too many partners will cut down your risk.
- Avoid having sex with somebody with an active genital herpes infection .
- Also avoid intimate contact with a person who has a cold sore.
- If you have an active herpes infection yourself, avoid having sex with anyone else in order to prevent passing it on.
- If one partner finds out they have herpes, it is wise to tell the other. This can reduce transmission rates.
- If a person knows they have recurrent herpes, taking a regular antiviral medicine can reduce the risk of passing on the virus.
- In particular, a pregnant woman should avoid having sex with somebody with active herpes, because of the extra risk to the baby during delivery.
Dont Miss: How To Get Rid Of Herpes Discharge
You May Like: How To Fight Herpes On Lips
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 Common Herpes Really Is
Enough people have herpes to make it a totally commonplace infection, even though we may not treat it as one.
Nearly 48 percent of people aged 14 to 49 in the United States were estimated to have HSV-1 between 2015 and 2016, according to the most recent data from the CDC. This high prevalence makes sense because many people actually get the virus from nonsexual contact as children, the CDC explains. This can happen when a parent greets a child with a kiss on the mouth or while a kid is playing with other little ones, since children arent exactly known for their respect of personal space. Remember: HSV-1 often presents as cold sores, but its possible that some people with HSV-1 actually have genital herpes.
So, about genital herpes. You may have heard that one in six people has this infection. Thats a little bit of an outdated figure, Christine Johnston, M.D., an associate professor and herpes researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine, tells SELF. That number is related to national survey data released by the CDC in 2010 and based on the years 2005 through 2008. This nationally representative research, published in the CDCs 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey , tested peoples blood samples for antibodies of HSV-1 and HSV-2, estimating that 16.2 percent of Americans aged 14 to 49 had HSV-2 between the years 2005 and 2008. Thats around one in six.
Recommended Reading: How Do I Know My Herpes Outbreak Is Over
Herpes Is A Common Infection
Herpes is a super-common infection that stays in your body for life. More than half of Americans have oral herpes, and about 1 out of 6 Americans has genital herpes. So chances are a few people you know are living with herpes.
Theres no cure for herpes, but medication can ease your symptoms and lower your chances of giving the virus to other people. And the good news is, outbreaks usually become less frequent over time, and even though herpes can sometimes be uncomfortable and painful, its not dangerous. People with herpes have relationships, have sex, and live perfectly healthy lives.
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Most people infected with genital herpes have no symptoms, but some people can experience:
- stinging or tingling in the genital area
- small blisters on the genital area that develop into small painful red sores
- sores that look like a rash or cracked skin on the genitals
- difficulty passing urine
The first episode of infection can also have flu-like symptoms such as:
After the first episode, the virus remains dormant in your body for the rest of your life, which means you can experience recurrent episodes of sores and blisters.
Recurrent episodes are usually milder, shorter and less frequent over time. They are more likely to occur when your immune system is weak, due to illness, tiredness or stress.
Also Check: How To Avoid Getting 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.
Can Genital Herpes Harm Babies Either During Or After Pregnancy
Having genital herpes does not affect your ability to have a baby. Overall, the incidence of neonatal herpes is very rare. However, when it does occur it is potentially very harmful to the baby. It is therefore important to tell your doctor or midwife if you or your partner have had a history of genital herpes. They will then be able to provide information, reassurance and optimal management.
Recurrent episodes of genital herpes during pregnancy are not harmful to the foetus. If you have genital herpes at the time when your baby is due, there is a small risk that the baby could become infected at delivery as it passes down the birth canal. This risk is most substantial for mothers who are having their first ever episode of genital herpes near to or during delivery. However, if you are simply having a recurrence of genital herpes, then the chances of your baby becoming infected with herpes at delivery are low as the baby is protected by antibodies circulating in the mothers blood.
Don’t Miss: How Does Someone Get Herpes Simplex Virus
Can Herpes Be Prevented Or Avoided
The best way to prevent getting herpes is to not have sex with anyone who has the virus. It can be spread even when the person who has it isnt showing any symptoms. If your partner has herpes, there is no way of knowing for sure that you wont get it.
If you are infected, there is no time that is completely safe to have sex and not spread herpes. If you have herpes, you must tell your sex partner. You should avoid having sex if you have any sores. Herpes can spread from one person to another very easily when sores are present.
You should use condoms every time you have sex. They can help reduce the risk of spreading herpes. But its still possible to spread or get herpes if youre using a condom.
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes
As with many STDs, people with herpes type 2 may not know they have a genital infection because they donât have any noticeable symptoms. However, in a symptomatic infection, a person may experience the following signs:
- Itching, pain, or tenderness in the genital area
- Small red bumps or white blisters
- Sores or ulcers that occur when the blisters rupture and ooze or bleed
- Scabs that develop as the ulcers heal
If youâre experiencing symptoms like these, consider testing for herpes right awayâand speak with your healthcare provider.
During a first herpes outbreak, a person may notice flu-like symptomsâincluding fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes around the groin.
When you have recurrent genital herpes symptoms, the outbreaks tend to be less frequent and less severe after the initial infection. Before the sores reappear in a recurring outbreak, symptomatic patients may notice the following symptoms:
- Burning, itching, or tingling where they first had the sores
- Pain in the buttocks, legs, and/or lower back
Don’t Miss: Can I Have Herpes And My Partner Not
What Is Suppressive Therapy
Suppressive therapy involves taking an oral antiviral drug every day for prolonged periods. It interferes with the herpes virus reproductive cycle and so prevents or dramatically reduces the number of recurrences. When recurrences do occur, they are usually less severe and shorter lasting.
If you find the frequency of your outbreaks unacceptable, or if you are finding it difficult to cope emotionally with having recurrences of genital herpes, tell your doctor and discuss the use of suppressive therapy.
Dont Miss: Can I Give Plasma If I Have Herpes
How Do You Treat Herpes
Theres no cure for herpes, but prescription medications can ease symptoms, end outbreaks sooner, and lower the chances of passing the virus to other people.
You can also help ease the pain caused by herpes outbreaks by taking a warm bath, wearing loose clothing and putting an ice pack on the sores.
Read Also: What Is Herpes Zoster Infection