When To Talk With A Doctor
Talk with a doctor if you notice any sores on or around your genitals. Other STIs, like syphilis, can look like herpes but need different treatment. Treatment is needed to prevent complications and transmission.
Your doctor will let you know whether you should test for herpes or another STI, and they can help you get treatment if needed.
Genital Herpes And Pregnancy
Women with herpes before pregnancy can usually expect to have a healthy baby and a vaginal delivery.
If you have genital herpes during pregnancy, there’s a risk your baby could develop a serious illness called neonatal herpes.
This can be fatal, but most babies recover with antiviral treatment.
The risk of your baby getting neonatal herpes is low if you have had genital herpes before.
It’s higher if you get genital herpes for the first time in pregnancy.
Signs And Symptoms Of Herpes
Oral herpes is an infection in the mouth, caused by HSV-1 . Symptoms often include cold sores or fever blisters, but you can have oral herpes without any symptoms.
The herpes simplex virus can be dormant until an active outbreak occurs. The initial infection typically has the worst symptoms, ranging from flu-like symptoms and swollen lymph nodes to headaches. Sores may occur in and around the lips and mouth. Recurring infections are usually milder, and may include redness, itching, or swelling. Painful, fluid-filled blisters can occur and are highly contagious. These blisters often turn into sores , which will then scab over and typically heal in a few days.
Symptoms of genital herpes range from none to more severe manifestations . The majority of genital HSV infections are mild, with little to no symptoms following the initial outbreak. For people who do experience symptoms, the usual course begins with genital inflammation, where the skin may itch or burn. Blister-like sores may appear. The sores may open, scab over, and heal.
Other indirect symptoms that can occur during an active herpes virus infection include fever, headaches, muscle aches, and a burning sensation during urination.
If you think you may have a herpes infection, home testing could be a convenient option for you. If youâre wondering how to get tested for herpes at home, thereâs good news: testing for HSV-2 is easy with the Everlywell female STD Test or male STD Test.
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How Are Oral Herpes Simplex Virus Infections Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will examine you and carefully look at your blisters. He may ask if you have other medical conditions. He will also need to know when the sores started, along with your other symptoms. You may also need any of the following:
- Fluid sample: A sample is taken from the affected area and checked under the microscope or sent for other testing.
- Blood tests: Your blood is tested for antibodies and to see if you have been exposed to HSV. The tests may also show if you have developed antibodies from exposure to HSV.
- Biopsy: This is a procedure used to remove a small piece of tissue from the ulcer. This sample is then sent to the lab for tests.
What Is A Genital Herpes Test
Genital herpes tests can detect the herpes simplex virus type 1 and herpes simplex virus type 2 .
The viruses can be tested by using:
- swabs on the sores
Swab tests are more commonly used at clinics and in home testing kits, but there needs to be sores or blisters for a fluid sample to be collected. Where a sample can be taken, a swab test is really effective. We offer testing through swabs and urine . Where there are no blisters or lesions, a blood test is sometimes used. We do not offer blood testing for HSV.
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When Should I Get Tested
The best time to get tested for herpes if you havent had an initial outbreak is 12 days after exposure. This is because your body will have had time to produce antibodies that can be detected on a test.
A blood test can determine whether you have these antibodies.
Swabs, on the other hand, can detect the virus directly from an active herpes lesion.
Stages Of Oral Herpes
There are three main stages of oral herpes:
- Primary infection: This stage consists of the initial contraction of the virus.
- Latency: When the infection enters the latency phase, it is dormant and symptoms are absent.
- Recurrence: Following the primary infection and periods of latency, outbreaks can recur.
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If You Get A Positive Result Dont Panic It Really Doesnt Mean Much
All of this is to say that unless you have symptoms consistent with the herpes virus, why put yourself through the emotional turmoil of getting a blood test that may or may not give you legit results? As Hutcherson notes, if you do get a blood test and it comes back positive but youre asymptomatic, what does that mean for you if you have nothing to treat? For many, due to the high rate of stigma still surrounding herpes, it can mean feelings of self-contempt, humiliation, and distress, all of which could be avoided if you arent experiencing any symptoms.
To recap, while there are some tests for herpes that can prove correct, none are 100 percent perfect, and blood tests are particularly problematic since they can produce false positives and negatives. We also know that the majority of the population has some form of herpes, so IMO its a mystery as to why were still making a big deal out of it. No one likes blisters or sores, but neither does anyone love having acne, a widespread condition without the same level of attached shame.
What You Need To Know
- Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes.
- Oral herpes can be spread through intimate contact with someone who is infected.
- Oral herpes can be difficult to diagnose. Often confused with many other infections, it can only be confirmed with a virus culture called PCR, blood test or biopsy. PCR is the preferred test for diagnosing herpes infections.
- The best treatment for oral herpes is antiviral oral medication. Symptomatic treatment may include antiviral ointment, over-the-counter topical anesthetics or over-the-counter anti-inflammatory agents.
Whether you call it a cold sore or a fever blister, oral herpes is a common infection of the mouth area that is caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 . Fifty percent to 80 percent of U.S. adults have oral herpes. According to the National Institutes of Health, about 90 percent of adults have been exposed to the virus by age 50.
Once infected, a person will have herpes simplex virus for the rest of his or her life. When inactive, the virus lies dormant in a group of nerve cells. While some people never develop any symptoms from the virus, others will have periodic outbreaks of infections.
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How To Choose The Right Herpes Test For You
Every herpes test has its own benefits and drawbacks. Its best to discuss your options with a medical professional to make the right choice for your healthcare needs.
It may be helpful to choose your herpes test based on your symptoms. Early in the disease, before a clear herpes outbreak appears, some test methodologies like a PCR test and an antibody blood test can yield false-negative results. On the other hand, a viral culture may yield false-negative results later in the disease.
If you want to receive test results that provide a comprehensive evaluation of your infection, consider using multiple herpes testing methods. If getting a rapid result is your priority, a PCR test is the fastest option.
When Can You Have Sex Again
The CDC believes that your sex life should continue as normal after being diagnosed with herpes. Its important to communicate the risks to your partner because there is always a small risk of transmitting HSV-1 either orally or genitally. If your HSV-1 virus is located orally, then avoid kissing and oral sex when a cold sore is present. 8
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When Should You Get Tested For Oral Herpes
Whenever you observe any sign of oral herpes infection, you should consider tests as mentioned above. A patient can see the symptoms from day 2 to 20. More symptoms will be there when the infection grows. You must check the following symptoms:
- Small skin sores
- Itching or tingling sensation on the skin
How We Test For Oral & Genital Herpes
Our herpes simplex virus type 1 and 2 type-specific antibody testing looks at the blood for antibodies to bothtypes of the herpes virus through the use of an immunoassay. If enough antibodies are detected, then the tester ispositive for the corresponding virus. Even without signs of an outbreak, our FDA-cleared herpes type 1 & 2 testingwill be 97%-99% accurate between 4-6 weeks post exposure. It will remain 99% accurate after 6 weeks.
Its important to understand that while HSV-2 is often referred to as genital herpes, and HSV-1 is commonly known asoral herpes, both can be located on either region of the body. A positive result for HSV-1 does not always mean aperson has oral herpes, nor does a positive result for HSV-2 mean someone has genital herpes.
Finding a lab is as simple as entering your zip code and selecting thelab that is most convenient for you. You pay online and can get tested as early as that same day.
Herpes I & II
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How To Get Rid Of Herpes Symptoms Naturally
Herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases , prompting many to wonder how to get rid of herpes naturally.
The herpes virus can live dormant inside a persons immune system for a lifetime, periodically causing blisters that burst and turn into open cold sores or ulcers before healing. When left alone, herpes cold sores usually last about 1014 days and are uncomfortable for a variety of reasons causing redness, pain, burning and often embarrassment.
Many people wonder if there is a natural cure for herpes or are looking for ways on how to get rid of herpes for good. While technically the virus that causes herpes is not curable, there are many natural herpes remedies that can put herpes into remission. In fact, many people with herpes dont experience any symptoms at all, especially long term, once they learn to manage triggers of outbreaks. So while theres no guide for how to get rid of herpes naturally, there is a method for how to get rid of herpes symptoms the natural way and keep breakouts at bay.
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Staying Safe While Avoiding Panic And Stigma
It can be tempting to freak out a little bit when you realize that herpes is both super-common and something you arent routinely getting tested for. So how do you process that information?
The first step is practicing the same safe sex that you know helps protect you from other STIs. Your best bet here is a barrier method like internal and external condoms for any penetration and physical shields such as dental dams for any oral play. Even though this wont fully protect you from herpes , it will reduce how much of your skin touches your partners.
This is why screening for herpes infection in the absence of any symptoms wouldnt really do much to cut back on casesthe advice would be the same: Practice safe sex with barrier methods. I agree right now with the recommendations not to screen people, but I think if we had a better diagnostic strategy, I would be much more in favor of routine screenings, Dr. Johnston says. It is important for people to know their status so they can protect themselves and their partners.
If you think you have herpes, see a doctor such as your ob/gyn or dermatologist , or go to your local health clinic. A medical expert can evaluate your symptoms, take samples for testing, and eventually offer treatment options if you need them.
You will likely be started on antiviral medications to help you heal faster and make you less contagious, Dr. Bard says.
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The Bottom Line: Tests For Herpes Are More Worry Than Theyre Worth
If you do have symptoms, dont fret: If you know your status, youre at an advantage in that you can talk with your doctor and find an antiviral drug that works for you. Medication can curtail the severity of your symptoms, as well as the number of outbreaks you get. Additionally, taking an antiviral daily will greatly reduce your chances of transmitting the virus to someone else. In case you missed it, theres also a very promising new drug for herpes on the horizon, which researchers say could be the most effective one yet.
Take it straight from the pros and dont put yourself through the stress of a herpes blood test if you dont need to. And, whether you have symptoms or not, know that youre not alone if you are herpes-positive.
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How Do Healthcare Providers Test For Herpes
How are you tested for herpes at a clinic or healthcare providerÃ¢s office? Healthcare providers will examine the location and severity of any active blisters or sores around the mouth or genital area. They may take a tissue sample of the sores to send to a laboratory for examination. A blood sample will be needed if an antibody test is used to check whether you have been infected with the herpes virus.
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You Got A Positive Herpes Test Now What
If you receive a positive herpes test, start by educating yourself about the herpes virus. There are many pervasive herpes myths that you shouldnt believe. The truth is that herpes is treatable and outbreaks can even be minimized or prevented with the right treatment measures.
Acyclovir, for example, is an antiviral medication that treats infections caused by the herpes simplex virus, including genital herpes. Its best to start taking acyclovir as soon as you notice the first signs of an emerging outbreak. This medication stops the herpes virus from growing and spreading during an outbreak, although it cannot remove the virus from your body completely. Most people experience relief within just a few days of taking acyclovir.
If youre looking for a natural therapy to control herpes outbreaks, the Luminance RED is another option. The Luminance RED handheld devices shine red wavelengths of light over the skin of affected areas. The company has one device designed for oral herpes and one for genital herpes.
Medically-optimized red light is metabolized to accelerate the bodys healing process and strengthen its defenses against future attacks. Studies show that regular use of high-powered light treatment not only shortens the healing time of active outbreaks but can also prevent future outbreaks altogether.
When Is It Ordered
HSV PCR testing or herpes culture may be ordered when you have signs and symptoms of a herpes infection, such as a blister or blisters on or around your eye, mouth, genitals or rectum.
Herpes PCR testing may be ordered when you have signs and symptoms of encephalitis that a healthcare practitioner suspects may be caused by a virus. Examples of these signs and symptoms include:
Prenatal and newborn testing
- A pregnant woman who has been diagnosed with herpes may be monitored regularly prior to delivery to detect a reactivation of her infection.
- A baby born to a mother who has active lesions during delivery may be tested before symptoms appear to assess whether the baby was exposed to HSV during delivery.
- A mother and newborn may be tested for HSV soon after delivery when a baby shows signs of HSV infection, such as meningitis or skin lesions that could be caused by the herpes virus.
HSV antibody testing may be done when your healthcare practitioner wants to determine if you have been exposed to HSV in the past.
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When Should I Talk With A Doctor
If you have a primary care doctor who you regularly visit, you can share your results with them to provide better insight into your next steps.
If you dont have a primary care doctor, you can consult with a physician or nurse from the testing site about treatment options.
If youve been treating your symptoms with medication and are still in pain or discomfort, reach out to a healthcare professional.
What About Sexual Partners
Although it can be difficult, talking about having HSV to your sexual partners is important. Its not uncommon to worry about how people are going to react. Despite being a common virus, there is still a lot of stigma and fear that surrounds HSV. If you talk about HSV with your friends or partner, their reaction can vary. While they may initially be surprised or upset, you could also find out they may already have HSV or that HSV is not something theyre worried about once they have the correct information.
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Which Symptoms Mean I Should Get Checked
Get tested for herpes if you have:
- an outbreak of blisters, sores or lesions around the genital area
- pain around the genital area
- pain or discomfort when urinating
As soon as you begin to see blisters around your genitals, you can try home testing or visit a clinic. Do this before the blisters begin to scab over and heal for the most accurate results. If you have no symptoms or suspect a false negative result, a blood test can be done. This will only show if you have ever been exposed to HSV and if you may have outbreaks in the future.
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