Can It Lie Dormant
The herpes virus can lie dormant in the body for years before people experience any symptoms.
After people have the first outbreak of herpes, the virus then lies dormant in the nervous system. Any further outbreaks are due to the virus reactivating, which causes symptoms to appear.
Symptoms are usually less severe during repeat outbreaks. Sores also clear up more quickly, often within 37 days. This is due to the antibodies the body produces to fight the first outbreak of herpes. The body can then use these antibodies to respond more quickly to future outbreaks.
There is currently no cure for herpes. Even if a person stops experiencing symptoms, the virus will remain inside their body.
It is also important to point out that herpes is transmissible even when no sores or other symptoms are present. For this reason, early prevention is advisable.
Condoms and dental dams do not offer complete protection against the herpes virus, as herpes can live on areas around the genitals. However, these methods do reduce the likelihood of contracting the infection or passing it on.
Both people can then take additional steps to reduce the likelihood of transmission. These steps may include:
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How Long Do Herpes Outbreaks Last With Medication
Depending on the health of the patient and the type of outbreaks , untreated outbreaks can last from 1 to 6 weeks. While the symptoms will heal by itself, however with the use of antiviral medications, they can significantly decrease the recovery time for a herpes outbreak in addition to decreasing the occurrence of future outbreaks.
With medication, outbreaks typically last less than a week. Daily consumption of antiviral herpes medication as a form of suppressive therapy can also aid to reduce recurring outbreaks by at least 70% to 80% per year.
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What Does Genital Herpes Look Like
While some people with genital herpes will never have any symptoms, other people can develop symptoms within a few weeks of being infected.
Often, before the lesions appear, patients describe a prodrome, characterized by a tingling or burning sensation in the area where the lesions will develop that can be noticed during urination, along with itching or discomfort in the genital area.
You can also have the following symptoms:
- Blisters on the mouth or lips
- Fever, headache or pain in the joints
- Trouble urinating
The symptoms of genital herpes often go away and come back as recurring outbreaks. For most people, the first outbreak is the worst, and can last from two to three weeks. Future flare-ups are often less severe and do not last as long. Still, some people shed the virus regularly. The following triggers can make outbreaks more likely to occur:
- Viral or bacterial infections
- Menstrual periods
Recurrent genital herpes is most common in the first year after the initial infection and decreases as time goes on.
In many cases, anti-herpes medicine can help patients. When a person experiences a prodrome and suspects a recurrence is going to happen, they begin taking anti-herpes medications that lessen symptoms and shorten the time of the outbreak.
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Are Cold Sores Contagious
The question ‘how are cold sores spread?’ is one of the most frequently asked questions about these painful, fluid-filled blisters that appear around the mouth and lips. Knowing how cold sores are spread, why cold sores are so contagious and when they are serious can help reduce your risk of a cold sore outbreak and prevent spreading cold sores to others.
Latest Innovations In Treatment And Care
Antiviral creams containing aciclovir are widely available to purchase at chemists. If used at the ‘tingle’ stage, they can shorten outbreaks by 12%, and a newer antiviral cream, Fenestil®, contains penciclovir 1% and has a similar benefit. The HVA also lists Lomaherpan® cream as an effective alternative, which contains Melissa officinalis . In an HVA trial, 72% of participants said it prevented an outbreak from developing.
Antiviral tablets can be prescribed by your GP and taken at the first sign of an outbreak, or more regularly as a preventative measure by those who experience frequent recurrences.
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Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
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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If Someone With Herpes Has No Sores Can It Still Be Passed On
If someone has herpes but no sores, can it still be passed on to another person? Spence*
Yes. Even when no sores are present, the herpes is still active in the body and can spread to others.
If you or your partner has herpes, reduce the risk of spread by:
- using a condom every time you have sex . The herpes virus can live outside of the area that a condom covers, though, so a condom may not always prevent the spread.
- avoiding sex during outbreaks
- making sure the infected person takes antiviral medicine every day as prescribed by the health care provider
- *Names have been changed to protect user privacy.
Do Condoms Help Prevent The Spread Of Genital Herpes
Yes. To prevent transmission of herpes, we recommend that condoms be used 100% of the time. Many patients will shed the virus and be contagious when they dont have symptoms. Studies have shown that asymptomatic shedding occurs between 1% and 3% of the time in patients with HSV II genital infections. Many new herpes infections occur from partners who are shedding the virus asymptomatically, so condoms are highly recommended.
Condoms may not be an attractive option for monogamous couples or for couples who desire to become pregnant. Couples may opt to have serological tests to determine if either partner has an asymptomatic infection. In close monogamous relationships, the risks of transmission can be weighed against other relationship issues, such as intimacy and pregnancy.
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How To Check If You Have Herpes
Many people mistake herpes symptoms for a skin rash or experience such a mild outbreak that they dont become aware theyre infected until subsequent outbreaks occur.
For more information, see our guide to Jock Itch vs. Herpes: Differences & Treatments.
Its also possible that you might experience no outbreaks at all after being infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Luckily, there are several ways to check whether or not you have herpes.The best and most obvious way is to talk to your doctor about herpes testing. There are several herpes testing methods in use today, ranging from swab tests that check for viral activity to blood tests that check for the presence of IgG and/or IgM antibodies.
Each testing method has strengths and weaknesses, meaning your doctor will recommend the best option for your symptoms and potential infection type.
Most of the time, youll need to wait 12 to 16 weeks from the last possible exposure date before taking a herpes test. This gives your immune system time to produce a large enough amount of antibodies for an accurate test result.
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Can I Still Have Sex If I Have Herpes
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner and let him or her know that you do and the risk involved. 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 overall health, sex life, and relationships. It is best for you to talk to a health care provider about those concerns, but it also is important to recognize that while herpes is not curable, it can be managed with medication. Daily suppressive therapy for herpes can also lower your risk of spreading genital herpes to your sex partner. Be sure to discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider. Since a genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships, it is important to understand how to talk to sexual partners about STDsexternal icon.
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What Is Neonatal Herpes
Neonatal herpes can be a very serious infection. Babies generally contract the virus from their birthing parent during childbirth even if the parent doesnt have active lesions. They may also get HSV-1 if an adult with an active cold sore kisses them. Breastfeeding babies can also get HSV-1 from the breast if there are lesions present. But babies cant get herpes from breast milk, so its safe to pump and feed.
Herpes simplex can be more dangerous for young babies because they dont have a fully developed immune system. But most babies with neonatal herpes can recover fully with treatment.
The dangers of neonatal herpes are much higher if the infection spreads to the babys organs. If youre pregnant and have herpes, speak with your healthcare provider about how to lower the risk of passing the infection to your baby.
So Cold Sores Are Only Caused By Hsv
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can cause cold sores on the mouth and face.
Although its more common for HSV-1 to cause cold sores, it isnt impossible for HSV-2 to cause them, too.
- are caused by the herpes simplex virus
- usually develop near the outside of the mouth, such as below your nostrils or on your lips
- cause redness and fluid-filled blisters
- usually appear in groups
- eventually break and ooze, forming a crust-like scab
- may take 2 to 4 weeks to completely heal
- may be caused by food or chemical sensitivities, dietary deficiencies, minor injury, or stress
- may develop anywhere inside your mouth, such as at the base of your gum line, inside your lip, or under your tongue
- are shaped like a circle or oval
- are typically yellow or white with a red border
- may appear solo or in groups
- usually take 1 to 2 weeks to completely heal
HSV-1 is spread through direct contact with the virus, which can be present in or around cold sores, in oral secretions , and in genital secretions .
Some of the ways it can be transmitted include:
- kissing someone on the mouth
- sharing eating utensils or cups
- sharing lip balm
The herpes virus usually affects the area where it first made contact with the body.
Some of the ways HSV-2 can be transmitted include:
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How Long Are Cold Sores Contagious After Healing
Every once in a while, people can pass the cold sore virus on to other people even when there isnt a cold sore present. However, this very rarely happensVII. The highest likelihood of transmitting the virus, as we noted earlier, is when the cold sore blisters burst. Because HSV is so easily spread via skin-to-skin contact, its best to maintain the necessary precautions until your cold sore is completely healed.
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When Does A Cold Sore Stop Being Contagious
The virus that causes cold sores is extremely contagious, so its common for people to feel wary about taking part in normal activities out of fear of infecting someone else.
The virus in question is called HSV-1, or herpes simplex virus. Most infections are asymptomatic, but in some cases, the virus can cause painful blisters or ulcers at the infection site. The problem is, it is very easy to spread the HSV-1 virus, even through indirect means like sharing some utensils, or carrying it on your hands after touching your cold sore.
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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.
Why Its Important To Tell Your Partner
Herpes viruses are extremely contagious. And its not just the risk of spreading a cold sore that you should be worried about.
This is because herpes can spread from the mouth to the genitals or from the genitals to the mouth. Skin-to-skin contact is all that is needed.
Having an open sore also increases your risk of an STI by providing the virus or bacteria a direct route into the body. Herpes can actually promote HIV infection by attracting the immune cells the HIV virus targets and infects.
To this end, it is just as important to discuss both of your sexual histories and not just herpes. As awkward as this may seem, it allows you both to explore whether its time to get STI testing from your healthcare provider or local health clinic.
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Treatment The First Time You Have Genital Herpes
You may be prescribed:
- antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- cream for the pain
If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.
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Herpes Testing Inhibited By Stigma
Herpes testing isnt a standard part of sexual health care. The stigma associated with herpes infection is severe enough that many doctors are reluctant to test people who do not have symptoms. They may also be concerned about false positive or false negative testing.
However, if you are at risk for herpes infection and want to know your current status, you can always ask for a test. Type-specific herpes blood tests can be performed at most major medical laboratories. Theyre not 100% accurate, but they can still provide useful information in certain situations.
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Can Genital Herpes Be Treated
Your physician can prescribe different medications to help reduce your symptoms and speed up the healing of an outbreak. These medicines work best when you start them soon after an outbreak occurs.
To reduce pain during an outbreak:
- Sit in warm water in a portable bath or bathtub for about 20 minutes. Avoid bubble baths.
- Keep your genital area clean and dry, and avoid tight clothes.
- Take over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Avoid aspirin.
Let your physician know if you are worried about your genital herpes. He or she can recommend a support group to help you cope with the virus.
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.
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How Can I Help Prevent Cold Sores In My Child
If someone in your household has herpes simplex, you can protect your child by making sure he or she is not exposed. Keep in mind that the virus may be in saliva even when there are no cold sores. Tell your child not to kiss, share cups or utensils, or share washcloths or towels with the person. Tell your child not to touch a cold sore.
If your child has a cold sore, make sure he or she does not:
Touch or rub the cold sore
The healthcare provider may advise keeping your child home from school during the first infection of herpes simplex virus.