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.
What Happens If Herpes Is Not Treated
Herpes can be painful, but it generally does not cause serious health problems like other STDs can.
Without treatment, you might continue to have regular outbreaks, or they could only happen rarely. Some people naturally stop getting outbreaks after a while. Herpes typically does not get worse over time.
How Can You Prevent Herpes Breakouts
Staying in good general health can help prevent recurrent herpes outbreaks. If you have genital herpes, it is a good idea to boost your immune system with a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Antiviral medications such as valacyclovir are very effective in the prevention of herpes outbreaks. Antiviral medications can decrease the number of outbreaks, lessen the severity of symptoms, and reduce healing time.
Recurrent herpes outbreaks tend to occur when the immune system is weakened, such as during stress or illness. Both physical stress and mental stress can trigger an outbreak. Everyone has different triggers for genital herpes.
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How To Prevent The Spread Of Herpes
Although herpes is a lifelong virus that cant be cured, it goes through periods of dormancy between outbreaks. This means that while the virus is still present, its not actively replicating.
During this time, you may not experience any signs or symptoms of having the disease even if youve had a previous outbreak before.
However, you can still spread the herpes virus to your sexual partners at any time, even if no sores are present. In addition, although rare, its possible to spread oral herpes to the genital region and vice versa.
For this reason, its extremely important to be mindful of the following preventive measures:
- Tell your partners that you have genital or oral herpes. This allows them to make informed decisions about their own sexual health, and its the responsible thing to do.
- If youre experiencing the signs and symptoms of an upcoming outbreak, avoid all sexual contact. Youre most likely to spread the virus to others during an outbreak.
- Its possible to spread the herpes virus even without an outbreak. If youre worried about spreading the disease to a partner, research shows that antivirals are effective at reducing this possibility.
Having oral or genital herpes doesnt mean that you can no longer have sex. However, its your responsibility to prevent the spread of herpes to your sexual partner.
If you have herpes, you can still take care of your sexual health through open communication and safer sex.
How To Manage The First Outbreak
They can be extremely painful, and its important to see a doctor in case you need a prescription like Valocyclovir or Acyclovir. The sooner you start taking it, the more likely you are to curb the outbreak.
Unfortunately, no drug cures the condition. However, if you receive anti-viral medications promptly, you might experience the following benefits:
- Speedy recovery
- Fewer chances of future outbreaks
- A decrease in the severity of symptoms
Here are a few more self-care tips on how to deal with the symptoms:
- Consider taking an over-the-counter pain-killer like ibuprofen or acetaminophen for aches and fever.
- Apply cold compresses on the area. This will help with the burning, inflammation, and itching.
- Clean the sores regularly. This will speed the recovery.
To sum up, the first herpes outbreak can be challenging to deal with, especially if you are experimenting with your sexuality. However, proper self-care and promptly seeking expert help can ensure speedy recovery.
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Are Cold Sores Contagious
Oral herpes is contagious to others who do not have it.
The virus is spread from person to person by kissing, by close contact with herpes lesions, or from saliva even when sores are not present. Infected saliva is a common means of virus transmission. The contagious period is highest when people have active blisters or moist sores. Once the blisters have dried and crusted over , the risk of contagion is significantly lessened. HSV can also be spread through personal items that are contaminated with the virus, such as lipstick, utensils, and razors. Despite popular myth, catching herpes from surfaces, towels, or washcloths is a very low risk, since the virus does not usually survive long on dry surfaces.
Are Canker Sores Caused By The Herpes Virus
Canker sores are not caused by the herpes virus or by any other virus. In fact, the cause of canker sores is unknown, although they may be triggered by a minor injury in your mouth from dental work or brushing too hard, an allergy, a vitamin B deficiency, stress, or a food intolerance. Some medical conditions, such as celiac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, may also cause canker sores, and they often occur in families, so it’s possible genetics or environment play a part, too.
Canker sores typically appear as small, round, or oval whitish sores with a red border, according to the Mayo Clinic. They typically occur on the tongue, inside the cheeks, inside the lips, or on the gums. The medical term for a canker sore is aphthous ulcer. Canker sores can be quite painful, but they usually heal within about two weeks without leaving any scarring.
Unlike cold sores, which usually occur outside the mouth, canker sores occur only inside the mouth. Like cold sores, canker sores are recurrent, but they are not contagious: You cant give a canker sore to another person. Canker sores occur more often in teenagers and young adults, and they are more common in women than men.
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What Is Herpes Ii
Herpes II is a sexually transmitted viral infection, which often produces painful sores, usually in the genital area. Once infected, an individual may carry the virus and be subject to recurrent bouts of infection. Some estimate that as many as 20 percent of the adult population in the United States has been exposed to the virus.
How Do You Get Rid Of A Herpes Outbreak Fast
The most effective treatment method is prescription medication from a doctor. This can be in the form of topical cream or an oral medication.
If you suspect you have herpes and would like to speak to a physician and/or get tested and treated online, book an appointment with a PlushCare doctor now.
We accept insurance and appointments are available every 15 minutes. Our doctors can order lab tests for a herpes test and diagnose you based on the results.
If you have already been diagnosed with herpes they can prescribe you a treatment plan, including any necessary medications.
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How Is It Spread
The herpes virus is spread by skin-to-skin contact with a person who has the herpes virus:
- Most often, from herpes sores or blisters
- Less often, from normal looking skin where the virusfirst entered the body
- The herpes virus enters the body through the:
- Lining of the mouth
- Regular skin that has small cracks or cuts
People with a weak immune system can get a herpesinfection more easily. A weak immune system is causedby some diseases and by somemedicines used to treat serious diseases.
People who don’t know they have herpes can still spread the virus to others.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect A Pregnant Woman And Her Baby
Neonatal herpes is one of the most serious complications of genital herpes.5,16 Healthcare providers should ask all pregnant women if they have a history of genital herpes.11 Herpes infection can be passed from mother to child during pregnancy or childbirth, or babies may be infected shortly after birth, resulting in a potentially fatal neonatal herpes infection. 17 Infants born to women who acquire genital herpes close to the time of delivery and are shedding virus at delivery are at a much higher risk for developing neonatal herpes, compared with women who have recurrent genital herpes . 16,18-20 Thus, it is important that women avoid contracting herpes during pregnancy. Women should be counseled to abstain from intercourse during the third trimester with partners known to have or suspected of having genital herpes. 5,11
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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.
How Is Genital Herpes Treated
Herpes has no cure. But antiviral medicines can prevent or shorten outbreaks during the time you take the medicine. Also, daily suppressive therapy for herpes can lower your chance of spreading the infection to your partner.
Your doctor will either give you antiviral medicine to take right after getting outbreak symptoms or to take regularly to try to stop outbreaks from happening. Talk to your doctor about treatment options.
During outbreaks, you can take the following steps to speed healing and prevent spreading herpes to other parts of your body or to other people:
- Keep sores clean and dry.
- Try not to touch the sores.
- Wash your hands after any contact with the sores.
- Avoid all sexual contact from the time you first notice symptoms until the sores have healed.
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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.
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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Outbreaks For Asymptomatic Hsv
The majority of herpes infections, of both HSV-1 and HSV-2, are asymptomatic. This means that you can be infected with the herpes virus and have viral DNA in your body without any visible symptoms.
People with asymptomatic herpes can still spread the virus to others while not having any cold sores or genital herpes lesions.
Sometimes, people with asymptomatic herpes might experience an initial outbreak of cold sores or genital herpes, only to have the virus disappear after the first outbreak. In this case, herpes is still present in the body, but simply remains inactive and doesnt produce further outbreaks.
It can be difficult to know whether or not you have asymptomatic HSV-1 or HSV-2, or simply have infrequent herpes outbreaks. However, if youre confident you have herpes but havent had an outbreak for several years, its likely that you have an asymptomatic infection.
Even if youre asymptomatic, its still important to take precautions against spreading herpes to other people. Herpes remains in the body even if you dont have any symptoms, and there is a risk that you could spread the virus through kissing, oral sex or other sexual activity.
If you have asymptomatic herpes, the best approach is to speak to your doctor about treatment options and the use of suppressive therapy to reduce your risk of infecting others.
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What Are The Other Symptoms Of A Herpes Outbreak
If you are experiencing the first outbreak of herpes, you are most likely to experience signs and symptoms that may include:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- People who experience a herpes outbreak for the first time may develop the lesions 4 to 20 days after getting exposed to the virus.
After the initial infection, the herpes virus stays inactive in the nerves. It has a tendency to get reactivated and emerge as a new sore in certain situations. It is the reactivation that leads to the recurring outbreaks of herpes. Thankfully, consequent outbreaks after the first infection are usually associated with symptoms that are milder even blisters heal faster than before.
Outbreaks may be triggered by different things stress, other illness, fatigue, hormone changes that occur during the menstrual cycle, or anything affecting your immune system, though anything can trigger an outbreak, and sometimes you may not know the trigger.
If you touch sores present in your mouth or genitals and then touch other places in the body, you can transmit the infection to those places one such example is herpes infection in the eyes. Children have a greater tendency to spread the virus from oral sores to their fingertips when they suck their thumbs. Once you have an established infection, and your body has produced antibodies, the chances of this happening are very low.
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When To See A Healthcare Provider
If you’ve been diagnosed with herpes, there are some circumstances where you may benefit from medical care. These may include having:
- An outbreak that isn’t helped by treatment and self-care strategies
Self-care strategies during outbreaks can help with pain and discomfort, including:
- Keeping the affected area clean and dry
- Using over-the-counter pain relievers
- Place cold compresses over affected areas
For at-home care for cold sores specifically:
- Apply non-prescription antiviral ointment
- Avoid eating spicy, acidic, or salty foods
- Use petroleum jelly to keep surrounding skin moisturized
Transmission Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease spread by skin-to-skin contact. The risk of infection is highest during outbreak periods when there are visible sores and lesions. However, genital herpes can also be transmitted when there are no visible symptoms. Most new cases of genital herpes infection do not cause symptoms, and many people infected with HSV-2 are unaware that they have genital herpes.
To help prevent genital herpes transmission:
- Use a condom for sexual intercourse.
- Use a dental dam for oral sex.
- Limit your number of sexual partners.
- Be aware that nonoxynol-9, the chemical spermicide used in gel and foam contraceptive products and some lubricated condoms, does not protect against STDs.
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Preventing The Spread Of Herpes
The following tips may help prevent the condition from reactivating or spreading:
- Wash any items that may have had contact with the contagious sores, like towels, in boiling water after use.
- Dont share food utensils or other personal items with people who have oral herpes.
- Dont share cold sore creams with anyone.
- Dont kiss or participate in oral sex with someone who has a cold sore.
- To keep the virus from spreading to other parts of the body, dont touch the blisters or sores. If you do, wash your hands with soap and water immediately.
Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus , which causes chickenpox earlier in life. The natural history of varicella zoster infection is similar to genital herpes infection in that VZV also becomes latent in the sensory nerve roots. Later in life the virus may exit, causing shingles.
Recurrences in shingles cause blister lesions in a single area of skin called a dermatome. Shingles is not a sexually transmitted infection and is independent from genital herpes.
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