Can Genital Herpes Cause Other Problems
For most women, genital herpes does not usually cause serious health problems.
Women with HIV can have severe herpes outbreaks that are long-lasting. Herpes also may play a role in the spread of HIV. Herpes sores can make it easier for HIV to get into your body. Also, herpes can make people who are HIV-positive more likely to spread the infection to someone else.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect A Pregnant Woman And Their Baby
Outbreaks of genital herpes during pregnancy have been associated with miscarriage, stillbirth, prematurity, and herpes infection that can cause severe brain injury and possible blindness in the baby. In most cases, women with herpes give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, talk to your doctor.
Recognizing The Signs: The Prodrome
Early in the phase of reactivation , many people experience an itching, tingling, or painful feeling in the area where their recurrent lesions will develop. This sort of warning symptomcalled a prodromeoften comes a day or two before lesions appear. To be on the safe side, its best to assume virus is active during these times.
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Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
Where Does The Herpes Virus Live In The Body
The herpes simplex viruses are latent, meaning they can live in the body without causing symptoms. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia, the junctions where nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes , the ganglia are located behind the cheek bone.
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What Can I Do If I Have Herpes Simplex 2
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they’ll always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom or dental dam , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
How Do People Get Genital Herpes
Infections are transmitted through contact with HSV in herpes lesions, mucosal surfaces, genital secretions, or oral secretions. 5 HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be shed from normal-appearing oral or genital mucosa or skin. 7,8 Generally, a person can only get HSV-2 infection during genital contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection. However, receiving oral sex from a person with an oral HSV-1 infection can result in getting a genital HSV-1 infection. 4 Transmission commonly occurs from contact with an infected partner who does not have visible lesions and who may not know that he or she is infected. 7 In persons with asymptomatic HSV-2 infections, genital HSV shedding occurs on 10.2% of days, compared to 20.1% of days among those with symptomatic infections. 8
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What Triggers Herpes Outbreaks
Herpes simplex is a virus that can be referred to as HSV 1, which is responsible for cold sores, and HSV 2, which is responsible for genital herpes. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, once you are infected with the herpes virus it doesn’t leave the body, but it takes up residence in nerve cells where it remains dormant until another outbreak is triggered. There are a few things that are common triggers of herpes outbreaks.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
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.
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Can Genital Herpes Be Prevented
The only way to prevent genital herpes and other STDs is abstinence. This means not having sex . If someone decides to have sex, using a latex condom every time can prevent most STDs.
But condoms cant always prevent the spread of genital herpes. This is because the virus may be in the skin near the genitals .
Symptoms Of Oral Herpes
Oral herpes is most often caused by HSV-1, but can also be caused by HSV-2. It usually affects the lips and, in some primary attacks, the mucous membranes in the mouth. A herpes infection may occur on the cheeks or in the nose, but facial herpes is very uncommon.
Primary Oral Herpes Infection
If the primary oral infection causes symptoms, they can be very painful, particularly in children. Symptoms include:
- Tingling, burning, or itching around the mouth are the first signs.
- Red, fluid-filled blisters that may form on the lips, gums, mouth, and throat.
- Blisters that break open and leak. As they heal, they turn yellow and crusty, eventually turning into pink skin. The sores last 10 to 14 days and can be very uncomfortable.
- Blisters that may be preceded or accompanied by sore throat, fever, swollen glands, and painful swallowing.
Recurrent Oral Herpes Infection
A recurrent oral herpes infection is much milder than the primary outbreak. It usually manifests as a single sore, commonly called a cold sore or fever blister . The sore usually shows up on the outer edge of the lips and rarely affects the gums or throat.
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How Are These Conditions Diagnosed
Pimples are easily managed with changes in your personal hygiene or by using over-the-counter treatments.
If the bumps dont respond to treatment or if you notice painful, fluid-filled blisters after having sex see your doctor right away. Your doctor may be able to make a diagnosis just by looking at the bumps.
Your doctor can confirm a diagnosis with one of several tests.
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.
Herpes infection doesnt usually pose a serious health risk. The risk of a health complication due to herpes is higher in infants and if you have HIV/AIDS, cancer or an organ transplant.
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Lysine And Herpes Outbreaks
Lysine is an amino acid that human beings need and must obtain through the consumption of supplements or foods rich in proteins that contain it. Our organism is not able to synthesize lysine and that is why this amino acid is essential.
For this reason, the consumption of foods rich in lysine is a recommendation you should take into account in your diet.
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Herpes And Newborn Infants
Herpes infection in a newborn can cause a range of symptoms, including skin rash, fevers, mouth sores, and eye infections. If left untreated, neonatal herpes is a very serious and even life-threatening condition. Neonatal herpes can spread to the brain and central nervous system, causing encephalitis and meningitis. It also can lead to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and death. Herpes can also spread to internal organs, such as the liver and lungs.
Infants infected with herpes are treated with acyclovir, an antiviral drug. They usually receive several weeks of intravenous acyclovir treatment, often followed by several months of oral acyclovir. It is important to treat babies quickly, before the infection spreads to the brain and other organs.
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Tips To Soothe The Pain
- Take aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen .
- Place lukewarm or cool cloths on the sore place.
- Take lukewarm baths.
- Keep the area dry and clean.
- Wear cotton underwear.
Questions to ask your doctor
- What is the best treatment for me?
- Are there any side effects to my treatment?
- Is it safe to have unprotected sex if I dont have any sores?
- Can I give myself genital herpes if I also have oral herpes?
- Can I give someone else herpes even if Im not having an outbreak?
- What is the best way to prevent herpes outbreaks?
- Can I live a normal life with herpes?
- Am I at risk of developing any other diseases?
- Are there any support groups in my area?
- If I give my baby herpes, what is the treatment?
How Are Genital Herpes Diagnosed
Other STIs, like syphilis, cause similar symptoms. In addition to a physical exam, your healthcare provider will take a fluid sample from the blisters to test for the herpes virus. If your blisters are healed or you dont have blisters, a blood test can check for HSV-2 antibody, a marker that shows you have been exposed to the virus.
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What You Need To Know
- Herpes simplex virus , also known as genital herpes, is most likely to be spread when an infected person is having an outbreak, but it can also be transmitted without any symptoms being present.
- Medications can help reduce your symptoms, speed up the healing of an outbreak and make you less contagious.
- If you know you have genital herpes before becoming pregnant, your physician will monitor your condition throughout your pregnancy. If you have an active outbreak at the time of delivery, cesarean section may be recommended.
Treatment For Genital Herpes
There is no medication to cure your body of the herpes virus. Treatment is aimed at easing symptoms, reducing the frequency of recurrences and reducing transmission.
Symptoms can be improved by:
- ice packs to the affected area
- pain-relieving medication such as paracetamol
- antiviral medication such as acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. These can reduce the severity of an episode if taken early enough . Topical antivirals usually used for cold sores on the lips or face are not suitable for use on the genitals.
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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.
Best Foods + Worst Foods To Avoid Herpes Outbreaks
Foods for herpes might relieve symptoms from HSV. Cold sores from oral herpes and genital herpes can both benefit. Certain foods might help prevent herpes outbreaks, while others trigger them. Learn the best foods for herpes and the foods to avoid on a therapeutic herpes diet, plus the reasons why.
Medically reviewed by Meagan Fleming, RN on Jan. 1, 2019
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Which Foods Should You Avoid During An Outbreak
If you have symptomatic oral or genital herpes, youll likely experience outbreaks on occasion even with a flawless diet.
During a herpes outbreak, the best way to fight the virus and speed up healing is through the use of an antiviral medication such as valacyclovir. This is a prescription medication that youll need to talk about with your doctor.
While theres no proof that food can worsen or improve a herpes outbreak, many people with herpes report improvements after avoiding certain foods.
Avoiding foods with a herpes outbreak is tough, but generally, stay away from anything spicy, salty or oily, as these foods are most likely to irritate the lips and gums. Acidic drinks, like fruit juices, are also best avoided if you have open cold sores that could potentially become irritated.
Studies also show that arginine, an amino acid found in a variety of foods, can play a role in the spread of viruses such as herpes. Arginine has viral growth properties, meaning it may increase the rate at which viruses like HSV-1 and HSV-2 multiply in the body.
As such, its best stay away from foods high in arginine like turkey breast, pork loin, chicken breast, nuts , pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, soybeans, dairy products and lentils during an outbreak of herpes.
Instead, stick to a simple, healthy diet that gives you a complete supply of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients without supply excessive amounts of arginine.
Diet Immunity And Cold Sores
If you get cold sores, eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet to support your immune system is important. The herpes simplex virus causes cold sores.1 Symptoms of the virus, such as painful blisters around the mouth, may reappear throughout the years. This is because the virus lies dormant in nerve cells in your skin, even if you dont see any cold sores when you look in the mirror.
Viral infections and fevers are a common cause of cold sores.2 In addition, people with weakened immune systems from certain conditions are most at risk for complications from the herpes simplex virus.3 Taking steps to support immunity, such as eating a healthy diet, is important for your lip health and overall health.
Although dietary recommendations vary from person to person, there are some dos and donts on foods to eat to support immune health:4
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Do Natural Remedies Help
There are several options that can be tried to ease the pain. A73612 and Donnor52059 suggest dabbing cornstarch directly on the sores. I canât find any scientific studies that have researched this, but I canât see that it would do any harm.
A73612 also recommends squirting water from a bottle over the sores when you pee. This is a time-honoured method that will help to ease the pain.
Yolandayw mentioned taking a simple painkiller such as paracetamol during an outbreak. Feelbroken advised putting Vaseline on the sores. Lidocaine 5%, a local anaesthetic gel that numbs the area, is another option. Some people find it helpful to put on five minutes before passing urine. You need to get it on prescription and it doesnât suit everyone. Some people develop sensitivity to it which makes the symptoms worse.
Yolandayw also advised using ice as a home remedy. Simply wrap the ice in a tea towel and apply for 5-10 minutes. Never put ice directly on the skin as this can cause âice burnâ. Drinking plenty of water can also be helpful as it reduces the concentration of urine, making it less painful when you have to pee.
D91907 mentioned putting aloe vera gel on the sores. There is some scientific evidence that aloe vera is useful for both genital and oral herpes.
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Herpes Signs And Symptoms
While some people realize that they have genital herpes, many do not. It is estimated that one in eight persons in the United States has genital herpes however, as many as 90 percent are unaware that they have the virus. This is because many people have very mild symptoms that go unrecognized or are mistaken for another condition or no symptoms at all.
Because signs can vary a great deal, we recommend that an individual see a healthcare provider to be tested if they have a lesion of any kind. This can be swabbed for testing.
A person may show symptoms within days after contracting genital herpes, or it may take weeks, months, or even years. Some people may have a severe outbreak within days after contracting the virus while others may have a first outbreak so mild that they do not notice it. Because of these possibilities, it can be difficult for people to know when and from whom they may have contracted the virus.
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When Stress Triggers A Herpes Outbreak These Complementary Therapies May Calm It Down
A healthy lifestyle and the right supplements may offer relief from genital herpes.
A healthy lifestyle and the right supplements may offer relief from genital herpes.
Anna Ivanova/Alamy Alamy
A viral infection causes , and there is no cure for it. But if you have genital , you can use complementary approaches to reduce how often you have outbreaks. Some alternative therapies can also provide relief from discomfort and pain during outbreaks that do occur.
This kind of viral outbreak , and other viruses, like a cold, is usually related to stress and your immunity, says Lucy Gade, MD, MPH, the medical director at the Center for Wellness and Integrative Medicine at Northwell Health, in Oyster Bay, New York. As a result, an alternative medicine approach to herpes treatment involves making smart lifestyle choices to foster your general wellness. In doing so, you bolster your immune systems ability to fight the two viruses that cause herpes, herpes simplex virus 1 and herpes simplex virus 2 .
A healthy diet, appropriate sleep, finding ways to decrease in your life These alone will make your herpes outbreaks less frequent, says Dr. Gade. Such healthy habits will also improve your overall well-being, lengthen your life, and boost your happiness.
But first, make sure you have an accurate diagnosis for whats causing your symptoms.
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