What Is Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is an STD that is transmitted from one person to another via the herpes simplex virus. After a person has been infected, the infection might show up in the form of blisters instantly, or it may remain dormant in the persons body and reactivate multiple times a year. In many cases, genital herpes leads to pain, sores, itching, and discomfort in the genital area. In some cases, you might be infected and not show any symptoms. Medications and the use of condoms can help prevent this disease from spreading, although it is important to note that condoms may not cover all the sores and you can still get infected from skin to skin contact with an affected area.
Complementary And Alternative Medicine
Some people use natural therapies to treat herpes, either on their own or to support standard medical care. The research supporting their use is generally weak, with little evidence that they can reduce either the severity or duration of an outbreak. Even so, many people swear by their effectiveness and consider them a vital part of managing herpes outbreaks.
Complementary and alternative therapies sometimes used to treat herpes include:
- Propolis: This is a sticky substance produced by bees that may help speed the healing of genital herpes. A 2017 study found that people who used propolis ointment experienced better healing by the 10th day of treatment compared to those who used a sham ointment.
- Algae extract: Lab studies suggest that algae extract can inhibit the growth of HSV-2 in test tubes. Whether it can do so in humans has yet to be proven.
- Acupuncture: A 2011 study concluded that acupuncture was mildly effective in reducing pain caused by the herpes zoster virus , the type of herpes virus that causes shingles. While this suggests that acupuncture may be useful in easing genital herpes pain, this has yet to be proven.
How Long Do Herpes Symptoms Take To Show
On average, it takes about 4 days after exposure to start showing the symptoms of herpes. The herpes incubation period ranges between 2 and 12 days. The most common early sign of herpes is sores around the genitals or mouth.
The first time you get the herpes virus, it may cause flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, headache, and body aches. Then, subsequent outbreaks may cause sores and less severe symptoms. Generally, the frequency of outbreaks lessens over time.
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What Else Can I Do To Help With A Genital Herpes Outbreak
As well as taking medication to help with symptoms, you can also try:
- using an anaesthetic gel to numb your skin and ease any pain
- soaking the affected area with plain or salt water
- applying Vaseline to the affected area
- drinking plenty of fluids
- wearing loose clothing
- taking pain relief medications, like paracetamol or ibuprofen
The symptoms of herpes outbreaks will usually go away by themselves within 10 days as your immune system fights the infection on its own. You might find the sores painful during that time, so medication can help you by clearing up the infection more quickly.
If youd like to speak to one of our doctors about your symptoms, you can book a telephone consultation. Theyll be able to provide personalised advice on how to cope with genital herpes.
What Are The Types Of Herpes Viruses
Herpes is a group of contagious viruses. All of these viruses cause blisters and sores. Some of the more common herpes viruses include:
- Type 1: HSV-1, or oral herpes, causes cold sores to form on lips, gums, tongue and inside the mouth. It can cause genital herpes in some cases This type usually spreads through saliva when you kiss someone with open herpes sores. You can also get HSV-1 by sharing items like toothbrushes, lipsticks or eating utensils.
- Type 2: HSV-2 causes genital herpes.
- Herpes zoster: This virus causes chickenpox and shingles.
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What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Men
In about two-thirds of cases, men will have no symptoms of herpes. Symptoms of herpes in men may include:
It is unclear if genital herpes affects fertility in men because it affects such a large part of the population. However, a recent study found that herpes may lower the sperm count in men and may have an effect on mens ability to get pregnant with a partner.
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.
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Can My Kids Use This Too
Many peer-reviewed clinical studies have shown light therapy to be safe and efficacious. However, if you have any concerns about using it with children, we recommend consulting with a healthcare professional. Please also note, all treatments with children should be done under adult supervision.
Started using this device during the middle of an outbreak I had while taking Acyclovir. Since using this treatment, Ive been able to get off meds.
Can Valtrex Prevent Herpes Transmission
While there is no cure for HSV-2, there are medications that treat and can shorten outbreaks, as well as daily treatment to reduce asymptomatic shedding and likelihood of transmission.
In the same New England Journal of Medicine study, 743 of the 1,484 couples were instructed to have the infected partner take 500 mg of Valtrex daily. They were also educated on using condoms for protection. Only 14 became infected with the virus, 4 of whom developed an outbreak. This is compared to 27 in the placebo group who became infected.
The results of the study showed that taking Valtrex 500 mg daily led to a reduction in the transmission of gential HSV-2 to the uninfected partner.
While the addition of daily Valtrex can be helpful in reducing transmission of HSV-2, it has not been studied for this purpose in those with genital lesions due to HSV-1, the herpes simplex virus most commonly associated with cold sores on and around your mouth. Although HSV-2 makes up most of the recurrent genital herpes cases, there is an increasing number due to HSV-1 because of transmission through oral sex.
For people who have nine or fewer recurrences of an HSV-2 outbreak per year, the dosage of Valtrex is typically 500 mg daily. For those who have more frequent outbreaks, kidney problems, or a weakened immune system, dosing may be adjusted.
When To See A Healthcare Provider
The early recognition of genital herpes, ideally during the prodromal stage, allows you to access treatments that can shorten the duration and severity of an outbreak.
Clearly, this can be difficult during your first outbreak, given that you probably won’t be expecting it. But, over time, you will be better able to recognize the tell-tale signs and know when it’s time to act.
Side Effects And Follow
Side effects with these herpes drugs are considered mild, and health experts believe these drugs are safe in the long term. Acyclovir is the oldest of the three, and its safety has been documented in people taking suppressive therapy for several years.
People taking suppressive therapy should see their doctor at least once a year to decide if they should continue. You may find taking the pills every day to be inconvenient, the drugs may not work for you, or you may naturally have fewer outbreaks as time goes on. Your doctor can help you make treatment choices to suit your needs.
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Eye Herpes Vs Pink Eye
An ocular herpes simplex virus infection shares common signs and symptoms with another common eye infection called conjunctivitis , caused by bacteria, a virus, or allergies.As many as 25% of eye herpes cases go misdiagnosed as pink eye.6
While the two conditions are similar, there are slight differences that include:
- Conjunctivitis usually occurs in both eyes
- HSV eye infections typically only occur in one eye
- Eye culture that is positive for an HSV infection
- An adenovirus causes pink eye
Recurrent Episodes Of Genital Herpes
Recurrences are usually less painful and shorter in duration than the first episode of genital herpes. Over time, episodes usually become less frequent and may eventually stop altogether. Infections caused by HSV1 are less likely to recur in the genital area than infections caused by HSV2.
Recurrences may be triggered by:
- no apparent reason noted.
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How To Get Rid Of Herpes The Conventional Way
For most people with herpes, the virus typically represents nothing more than an inconvenience however, the real risk is for immuno-compromised patients who cant easily manage infections. In these patients, such as those with HIV/AIDS, herpes simplex infection is associated with increased morbidity and mortality.
As of 2017, there is not currently a herpes vaccine available to prevent HSV-1 or HSV-2.
Doctors sometimes prescribe medications to help keep the herpes virus suppressed or to speed up healing of cold sores by reducing bacteria that can cause infections. Some medications that are now used to control herpes include:
- Nucleoside analogues and antiviral medications
- Creams/ointment to help lower pain and inflammation near the site of sores
- Over-the-counter painkillers to reduce aches, tenderness or fever
However, its important to understand that even with early detection and prescription medications, either form of the herpes virus cannot be totally cured so transmission is always still possible. Medications for viruses dont always work long term and are not a cure-all.
Medicare Coverage Of Std Treatments And Screenings
If youre seeking Medicare coverage for STD treatments, scroll down to the section on prescription drug coverage. According to the National institutes of Health, STD treatments generally include prescription drugs, such as antibiotics.
Prevention and screening may help you avoid having to get STD treatments. Medicare may cover screening for sexually transmitted diseases , also known as sexually transmitted infections , under Medicare Part B as a preventive service benefit.
While it may not cover STD treatment, Medicare Part B may cover screening lab tests for chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis and/or hepatitis B. These screening lab tests may be covered if you are pregnant and/or who have an increased risk for an STD. Medicare will also cover short counseling sessions on STD prevention to those at risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting screened for an STD if you:
- Have had multiple sex partners
- Have a new sex partner
- Have a sex partner whos infected with an STD
- Are a man who has had sex with men
- Use street drugs and share your equipment with anyone
STD screenings and behavioral counseling may be provided at no cost if your doctor accepts Medicare assignment and determines you are at an increased risk for contracting an STD. If you receive behavioral counseling, you must receive the counseling from a primary care practitioner in a primary care setting, such as a doctors office, or it might not be covered.
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Symptoms Of Genital Herpes In Females
Getting a menstrual period can cause an outbreak of genital herpes.
Also, a person may mistake the symptoms of genital herpes for those of a yeast infection or bladder infection.
Genital herpes can spread in the following ways:
- receiving oral sex from a partner with a cold sore
- touching a herpes sore, then touching the genitals
- a baby can contract genital herpes during birth if the mother has the virus
People can sexually transmit the virus even if they have no visible symptoms.
It is not possible to contract genital herpes from toilet seats, bedding, swimming pools, or touching other objects. The virus can only spread from human-to-human contact.
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.
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Can You Cure Herpes
Unfortunately, theres no cure for herpes. The virus stays inactive in your body and activates from time to time to cause outbreaks, months or even years after youre first infected. This is when you get symptoms. Antiviral medication for herpes can only help control the outbreaks or suppress the virus.
Other Uses For This Medicine
Acyclovir is also sometimes used to treat eczema herpeticum to treat and prevent herpes infections of the skin, eyes, nose, and mouth in patients with human immunodeficiency virus , and to treat oral hairy leukoplakia .
This medication may be prescribed for other uses ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
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I Had Lesions When I Was Evaluated But My Culture Was Negative Does This Mean That I Dont Have Herpes
Not necessarily. Although lesions can be caused by something other than herpes, false negative herpes tests can occur if the samples are not taken appropriately, if there is a long transport time between the clinic and the laboratory, or if cultures were taken late in the course of the lesions. Lesions that occur early in the course of a herpes outbreak are much more likely to have positive cultures than cultures taken after the lesions crust over.
How To Prevent Spreading Herpes To Your Partner
If you have genital herpes and your partner doesnt, you can spread the virus that causes it to your partner during sex. For this reason, dermatologists recommend the following:
Tell your partner you have genital herpes
Explain that there is a risk that you can give your partner the virus that causes genital herpes. Be sure your partner knows that the following can reduce this risk:
Skipping sex when you have sores. To avoid giving your partner genital herpes, its recommended that you skip all sexual contact while you have sores and for one or two days after the sores clear. If your partners skin or genitals touches a herpes sore, your partner can easily catch the virus.
Using a condom when youre free of sores. Even when you dont have sores, its possible to spread the virus to your partner. When the virus isnt active, it travels from your skin to nearby nerve cells.A trigger can wake up this virus at any time. Common triggers include stress, illness, and surgery. If the virus wakes up, it travels back to your skin .Sometimes, when the virus wakes up, you wont have any sores or symptoms. During these times, you wont even know that the virus is on your skin . Its during these times that you can spread it to your partner. Condoms help reduce this risk.
Even when taking an antiviral every day, a condom must be used every time you have sex.
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What Are The Signs Of Herpes In Children
The herpes virus can be spread to babies and children if they are kissed by someone that is infected and has active cold sores. Although rare, it is also possible to spread herpes to a child or infant by touch if a person touches their cold sore and then touches the baby or child.
Precautions can be taken to protect infants and other children from getting the virus. Avoid kissing children if you have a cold sore and ask other people not to as well. Wash your hands frequently if you have a cold sore and you are around children.
Support And Advice For Genital Herpes
If you have just found out you have genital herpes, you may feel shocked and may have a lot of questions. It may help you to gather as much information as you can about herpes. This can help you to make fully informed decisions about your treatment, safe sex and preventing further recurrences. Talking to a counsellor about your concerns may also help.
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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.
What Treatments Are There For Stis
Just like any infection, different STIs need different treatments. Treatments range from pills, to creams, to injections.
- Treatment is often quick, easy and painless
- The quicker you start your treatment, the more effective it will be
- Some STIs like Chlamydia can be cured with antibiotics
- Depending on treatment, costs can vary but are often inexpensive
Some STIs can be cured through antibiotic medication, such as Chlamydia, the most common STI in young people. This involves taking two tablets once and then avoiding sexual activity for seven days. Your doctor will prescribe them for you.
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