Tuesday, September 27, 2022

When Is Herpes Most Contagious

Is Herpes Simplex Related To Herpes Zoster

Herpes (oral & genital) – causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, pathology

Herpes simplex and the varicella-zoster virus are related, but they arent the same. VZV causes chickenpox and shingles.

Like HSV-1 and HSV-2, shingles can cause a painful, blistering rash. The shingles rash usually shows up on the back, side, abdomen , neck and face. It is often only on half of your body, following the pattern of your nerves. See your healthcare provider if you have a new rash and suspect you may have shingles.

A note from Cleveland Clinic

Herpes simplex is a virus. Once you have herpes, its a lifelong condition. A herpes infection can lead to outbreaks , but youll also have times when you have no symptoms. The main sign of herpes is sores that appear on the infected skin. Some people choose not to treat herpes, especially if symptoms are mild. Others take antiviral medications to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 05/17/2022.

References

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How Do Cold Sores Spread

Cold sores spread through contact with infected people. Since cold sores are so prevalent, most people are already infected with the HSV-1 virus that causes them. In fact, most research suggests that around 47.8% of all people aged 14 to 49 are infected with the HSV-1 virus.

Most people are infected with HSV-1 without ever realizing, often through intimate contact with a partner, an innocent kiss from a relative or even contact with infected things like eating utensils, razors, etc., that unintentionally transmits the virus.

Even if you already have HSV-1 , you might not ever develop a cold sore. This is because only a small percentage of people infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 develop physical symptoms, such as oral herpes or genital herpes.

Still, its important to take precautions to prevent cold sores from spreading, even if youre fairly confident you or your partner already have HSV-1.

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Is Genital Herpes Infection Related To Hiv

Herpes and HIV are caused by different viruses. But patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more vulnerable to HIV infection. People newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.

Patients who are infected with both herpes and HIV also may have a higher concentration of HIV viruses in their body because of the interaction between the herpes virus and the HIV virus. When HIV damages a persons immune system, the person may be more likely to shed herpes simplex virus asymptomatically.

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Treatment For Genital Herpes

Three drugs are approved to treat genital herpes:

These medications are antiviral drugs called nucleoside analogues. The drugs are used initially to treat a first attack of herpes, and then afterward to either treat recurrent outbreaks or reduce frequency of recurrences .

No drug can cure herpes simplex virus. The infection may recur after treatment has been stopped. Even during therapy, an infected person can still transmit the virus to another person. Drugs can, however, reduce the severity of symptoms, improve healing times, and prevent recurrences.

Antiviral drugs for genital herpes are generally given as pills that are taken by mouth. If people experience very severe disease or complications, they need to be hospitalized and receive an antiviral drug intravenously. Acyclovir is also available as an ointment, which can be used as an adjunct for treatment of initial genital herpes.

What Are Cold Sores

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Cold sores , sometimes called fever blisters, are groups of small blisters on the lip and around the mouth. Often the first sign of a cold sore is a spot that tingles, burns, itches, or causes discomfort. A blister usually forms within 6 to 48 hours. The skin around the blisters is often red, swollen, and sore. The blisters may break open, leak a clear fluid, and then scab over after a few days. They usually heal in several days to 2 weeks.

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Oral Sex And Cold Sores Shouldnt Mix

A study we did showed that around 70% of women with genital herpes have HSV-1, indicating they are likely to have contracted the virus through receiving oral sex from a partner with a cold sore, says OMahony.

We tend to assume that oral sex carries less risk in terms of contracting infections, but many women with genital herpes will contract it this way

There is virtually no risk of transmission from mouth to genitals from someone who doesnt have an active cold sore, reassures OMahony. Just make sure that if your partner gets cold sores they are aware of the signs of an impending outbreak and avoid receiving oral sex during this time.

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How Can Herpes Be Prevented

Correct and consistent use of latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of transmitting or acquiring genital herpes because herpes virus shedding can occur in areas that are not covered by a condom.25,26

The surest way to avoid transmission of STDs, including genital herpes, is to abstain from sexual contact, or to be in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested for STDs and is known to be uninfected.

Persons with herpes should abstain from sexual activity with partners when herpes lesions or other symptoms of herpes are present. It is important to know that even if a person does not have any symptoms, he or she can still infect sex partners. Sex partners of infected persons should be advised that they may become infected and they should use condoms to reduce the risk. Sex partners can seek testing to determine if they are infected with HSV.

Daily treatment with valacyclovir decreases the rate of HSV-2 transmission in discordant, heterosexual couples in which the source partner has a history of genital HSV-2 infection. 27 Such couples should be encouraged to consider suppressive antiviral therapy as part of a strategy to prevent transmission, in addition to consistent condom use and avoidance of sexual activity during recurrences.

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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.
  • Take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve pain.
  • Topical 1% or 2% lidocaine may be used as a topical analgesic.

Stages Of A Cold Sore

How Contagious is Herpes?

A cold sore goes through five stages :

  • Stage 1 Day 1-2: Day 1-2: the initial symptoms such as tingling, soreness and itching
  • Stage 2 Day 2-4: fluid-filled blisters begin to form
  • Stage 3 Day 4-5: the blisters burst, ooze, and form painful and contagious sores
  • Stage 4 Day 5-8: the sores dry out and scab over. If the scab cracks, itching and burning can occur
  • Stage 5 Day 8-10: the resolution with healing of the skin after the scab falls off

Cold sores are contagious at all stages with stage 3 being the most infectious due to the opening of blisters that ooze infected fluids.

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Is There Any Resistance To Genital Herpes Medication

Resistance to drugs that treat genital herpes even after 20 years of use is very rare. Herpes medications may not work as well in patients who are very immunosuppressed and have been treated with these drugs for a long time. Each individuals response to treatment may vary. In some cases, patients may need more drugs to suppress their viral outbreaks than others.

Herpes Pregnancy And Newborn Infants

Herpes can pose serious risks for a pregnant woman and her baby. The risk is greatest for mothers with a first-time infection because the virus can be transmitted to the infant during childbirth. Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend using specific diagnostic tests for women in labor to determine the risk of transmission. Babies born to mothers infected with genital herpes are often treated with the antiviral drug acyclovir, which can help suppress the virus.

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Suppressive Therapy For Recurrences

To suppress outbreaks, treatment requires taking pills daily on a long-term basis. Acyclovir and famciclovir are taken twice a day for suppression. Valacyclovir is taken once a day. The doses for these antiviral drugs are reduced in people with impaired renal function.

Suppressive treatment can reduce the frequency of outbreak recurrences by 70% to 80%. It is generally recommended for people who have frequent recurrences . Because herpes recurrences often diminish over time, you should discuss annually with your provider whether you should stay with drug therapy or discontinue it.

There is some evidence that valacyclovir may help prevent herpes transmission, particularly in situations where one heterosexual partner has HSV-2 and the other partner does not. However, this drug does not completely prevent transmission. While taking any suppressive therapy for genital herpes, it is still important to regularly use latex condoms and to avoid any sexual activity during recurrences.

How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes Symptoms, Risk Factors &  Treatments

Most people who have genital herpes have no symptoms, or have very mild symptoms. You may not notice mild symptoms or you may mistake them for another skin condition, such as a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people who have herpes do not know it.

Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. These symptoms are sometimes called having an outbreak. The first time someone has an outbreak they may also have flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, or swollen glands.

People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they are infected with HSV-2. Repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although the infection stays in the body for the rest of your life, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.

You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD. STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when urinating, or bleeding between periods.

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Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes

There is no cure for herpes. Antiviral medications can, however, prevent or shorten outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication.11 In addition, daily suppressive therapy for herpes can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners.11

There is currently no commercially available vaccine that is protective against genital herpes infection. Candidate vaccines are in clinical trials.

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?

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How Is Genital Herpes Spread

  • Saliva from a partner with an oral herpes infection
  • Genital fluids from a partner with a genital herpes infection
  • Skin in the oral area of a partner with oral herpes or
  • Skin in the genital area of a partner with genital herpes.

You also can get genital herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or is unaware of their infection. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a partner with oral herpes.

You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. You also will not get it from touching objects, such as silverware, soap, or towels.

If you have more questions about herpes, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.

How Effective Is Medication At Preventing Infection

WHO claims 3.7 billion people infected with herpes virus

If you have genital herpes, you will probably be somewhat less likely to infect your partner if you use antiviral medication for prevention. The medications used for this purpose include aciclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir. They must be taken every day over a long period of time, though. One study showed that over a period of eight months,

  • 4 out of 100 people became infected when the partner with the virus took a placebo, and
  • 2 out of 100 people became infected when the partner with the virus took antiviral medication every day.

These couples were also advised to use condoms as well but many didnât use them consistently. So its not clear whether taking antiviral medication can lower the risk of infection even further if you always use condoms anyway, or whether using condoms is just as effective on its own.

Whether or not you would like to use preventive medication is ultimately an individual decision. Many factors can play a role, such as how long you or your partner have had the infection, how frequent and severe the outbreaks are, whether you are male or female, the frequency of sexual contact and whether you use condoms.

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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.

Are You Less Contagious If You Have Asymptomatic Herpes

Some people believe you canât spread asymptomatic genital herpes this, however, is a myth. You can still spread the virus to others even if you have an asymptomatic infectionâor if you arenât currently showing symptoms because the virus is dormant.

Fortunately, whether or not a herpes infection causes symptoms, the risk of transmitting the virus can be significantly reduced by using condoms during sexual intercourse.

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Who Might Get Herpes Simplex

People of any age can contract herpes simplex. You are more likely to get the virus if you:

  • Were assigned female at birth.
  • Have had multiple sex partners.
  • Started having sex at a young age.
  • Have a history of any sexually transmitted infection .
  • Have a weakened immune system.
  • Dont use condoms for intercourse and dental dams for oral sex.

Who gets HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes?

Anyone can get HSV-1. Most people contract HSV-1 during childhood. It spreads when an adult who has the virus has close contact with a child, such as when a family member kisses a child.

Who gets HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes?

Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms or dental dams.

People assigned female at birth are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black people who were AFAB are especially vulnerable, with an estimated 1 in 2 people AFAB between the ages of 14 and 49 infected with HSV-2.

At What Stage Is Herpes Contagious

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It is crucial to take measures to prevent the spread of herpes. These include using condoms and dental dams, refraining from sexual activity and touching, including kissing , when you are experiencing an outbreak.

A great way to prevent herpes and the spread of herpes is by using prescription medication from a doctor. Wait until your sores have healed and the scabs have fallen off before having sex again. Dont touch your sores, as this is an easy way to spread the virus.

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When Is Herpes No Longer Contagious

There’s no simple answer to this.

Herpes is most contagious before, during, and after having blisters. When there are no blisters, the virus is mostly dormant. For the most part, you can have sex without passing herpes to your partner.

Some people have very frequent herpes outbreaks, but most never have any symptoms. In other cases, there can be just one or two flare-ups.

Thereââ¬â¢s a problem, however. Itââ¬â¢s called “asymptomatic viral shedding.ââ¬ï¿½

Up to 70% of new infections can be attributed to asymptomatic shedding. Asymptomatic shedding means you have the virus, but there are no outward signs or symptoms of it. The virus is spread mostly when the infected person doesn’t realize they are shedding, because they have no symptoms.

Symptom-free herpes contagious 10% of the time. People who carry the genital herpes virus but have no visible symptoms – are still capable of spreading the virus about 10% of the time, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Those with herpes can protect their partners from contracting the herpes virus by using male or female condoms or/and by taking virus-suppressing drugs, such as Valtrex. Condoms and virus-suppressing drugs reduce the risk of transmission by about 50%.

We have have the ultimate guide on sex with herpes. With knowledge, care and communication, you will have a safe and fulfilling sex life with herpes. Continue to read the following articles:

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