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Which Doctor To Consult For Herpes

Transmission Of Genital Herpes

Herpes virus treatment

Patients were asked to indicate sources of infection from a list of options. Virtually everyone cited sexual contact : however, some considered toilet seats , blood transfusions , shaking hands , and swimming pools or baths as potential sources of infection. Overall only 65% identified sexual contact as the sole means of transmission.

Patients estimated that 51% of people are infected by a partner who does not have an outbreak at the time of contact, and doctors estimated that 45% of cases are transmitted during periods of asymptomatic shedding .

Patients were asked to indicate if a series of statements were true or false. Seventy per cent felt that genital herpes can be passed to a sexual partner even when you dont have an outbreak. However, 38% then believed genital herpes can only be passed to a partner when an infected person has sexual contact during an outbreak and 25% believed that when you are experiencing an outbreak of genital herpes, your sexual partner will be fully protected from contracting the virus if you use a condom. Finally, only 40% were aware that there is a daily treatment available to reduce the chances of passing the virus on to your sexual partner.

What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Simplex

Many people with the infection never experience any herpes symptoms. If you do notice symptoms, youll experience them differently depending on whether youre having your first herpes outbreak or a repeat outbreak. Recurring symptoms are usually milder than the first outbreak. Symptoms dont last as long with later outbreaks. Some people may only have one or two outbreaks during their lifetime. Others may have as many as four or five outbreaks a year.

People who do have herpes symptoms may experience:

  • Cold sores around their lips, mouth or tongue. They may look crusty or like fluid-filled blisters.
  • Tingling, itching or burning.
  • Pain while urinating.

How Is Genital Herpes Treated

There is no cure for genital herpes, but treatment can help. Self-care can relieve symptoms and help sores heal. Medicine can shorten an outbreak and also relieve symptoms.

Self-care for genital herpes

Dermatologists recommend the following self-care tips for their patients who have an outbreak:

  • Keep sores clean and dry.

  • Wear loose-fitting cotton underwear.

  • If an area feels painful, place a cold compress on it.

  • To cleanse and sooth painful sores, reduce itchiness, or decrease tenderness, take an Epsom salts bath. You want to soak for 10 to 20 minutes.

Medicine for genital herpes

To treat genital herpes, your dermatologist may prescribe one of these antiviral medicines:

Taking medicine is recommended for anyone who has a weakened immune system. With a weakened immune system, your body will likely need help to get rid of sores and symptoms. Without medicine, sores may not clear and symptoms can linger. You should continue taking the medicine until all sores have completely healed.

Medicine works best when started within 24 hours of getting a herpes sore.

If one of the medicines listed above fails to bring relief, you may need another medicine. For a severe infection, getting acyclovir through an IV may be necessary. Other antiviral medicines may also be an option.

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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.

How Can I Best Learn To Cope With Herpes Simplex

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Some people feel distressed or embarrassed about their herpes simplex infection. Its important to understand that the herpes virus is common. For most people, herpes doesnt significantly interfere with daily life.

To cope with negative feelings, you may consider:

  • Connecting with others through support groups or online forums.
  • Sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or loved one.
  • Speaking with a therapist.

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How Do Dermatologists Diagnose Herpes Simplex

During an outbreak, a dermatologist often can diagnose herpes simplex by looking at the sores. To confirm that a patient has herpes simplex, a dermatologist may take a swab from a sore and send this swab to a laboratory.

When sores are not present, other medical tests, such as blood tests, can find the herpes simplex virus.

Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes

Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.

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How Common Herpes Really Is

Enough people have herpes to make it a totally commonplace infection, even though we may not treat it as one.

Nearly 48 percent of people aged 14 to 49 in the United States were estimated to have HSV-1 between 2015 and 2016, according to the most recent data from the CDC. This high prevalence makes sense because many people actually get the virus from nonsexual contact as children, the CDC explains. This can happen when a parent greets a child with a kiss on the mouth or while a kid is playing with other little ones, since children arent exactly known for their respect of personal space. Remember: HSV-1 often presents as cold sores, but its possible that some people with HSV-1 actually have genital herpes.

So, about genital herpes. You may have heard that one in six people has this infection. Thats a little bit of an outdated figure, Christine Johnston, M.D., an associate professor and herpes researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine, tells SELF. That number is related to national survey data released by the CDC in 2010 and based on the years 2005 through 2008. This nationally representative research, published in the CDCs 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey , tested peoples blood samples for antibodies of HSV-1 and HSV-2, estimating that 16.2 percent of Americans aged 14 to 49 had HSV-2 between the years 2005 and 2008. Thats around one in six.

Is A Blood Test For Genital Herpes Included When I Ask To Be Tested For Everything Why Does Cdc Recommend Testing For Other Stds But Not Herpes

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Herpes blood tests may or may not be included. Your doctor chooses STD tests based on your sexual behaviors , as well as how common the infection is in the area that you live in. This is why you should have an open and honest discussion with your doctor about your sex practices and history. When you go in for STD testing, it is important to ask your doctor which infections you are and are not being tested for, and why.

STD tests are usually done for infections that have serious outcomes if they are not treated. For example, finding and treating curable STDs like chlamydia can stop them from causing serious complications like infertility in women. Genital herpes does not usually result in serious outcomes in healthy, non-pregnant adults. More often, the stigma and shame from a genital herpes infection can be more troubling to someone who is infected than the disease itself. If you are worried about genital herpes, you should talk with your doctor about whether you should be tested.

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Medical Management Of Genital Herpes

Doctors reported that a mean of 56% of their patients with genital herpes were currently receiving episodic anti-viral treatment, 18% were receiving suppressive therapy, and 26% were not taking prescription medication. In contrast, 20% of patients reported that they were currently receiving episodic treatment, 9% suppressive therapy, and 71% were not taking prescription medication for genital herpes. Use of prescription medication tended to increase with the number of recurrences experienced in the preceding year .

Among doctors who chose not to treat select patients with anti-viral therapy, cost was the primary rationale, followed by patient refusal and infrequent outbreaks . In contrast, patients who were not receiving anti-viral therapy thought that their outbreaks were not severe or frequent enough to warrant treatment . Cost was only mentioned by 9% of patients .

Doctors reported discussing suppressive therapy with 59% of patients, whereas only 25% of patients recalled such a discussion. Among patients, the likelihood of having a discussion about suppressive therapy with a doctor decreased with years since diagnosis and increased with the number of recurrences experienced in the preceding year .

How Is Herpes Simplex Treated

Some people have few to no herpes outbreaks and choose not to have treatment. But many people prefer to use medications that shorten outbreaks and reduce symptoms.

During an outbreak, you may use an antiviral ointment or cream to help lessen your symptoms and help them go away faster, but it only works if you start it soon after you start an outbreak. Many people with HSV-2 take daily oral medications to keep outbreaks at bay.

Your provider may prescribe a topical medication or oral medication such as:

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Can I Get Herpes From Kissing

All it takes is some quick skin-to-skin touching. You can also get herpes from kissing someone who has oral herpes. The skin on your genitals, mouth, and eyes can be infected easily. Other areas of skin may get infected if theres a way for the herpes virus to get in, like through a cut, burn, rash, or other sores.

How Does Someone Get Infected With The Herpes Virus

Diagnosing herpes

If you have sex with someone with obvious herpes sores then you can easily become infected with the virus. It is therefore very important that you do not have sexual intercourse whilst you have active lesions. However the herpes virus is not always obvious and many people are unaware they are infected with HSV. Surprisingly, despite the lack of sores the virus can still be active. This is how most people get infected.

You will need to inform your sexual partner â including future sexual partners â that you are have herpes, as it is very easy to transmit the virus.

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Is There A Cure Or Treatment For Herpes

Theres no cure for the herpes virus yet. A herpes vaccine does not currently exist, because the herpes virus has more complicated DNA than most infections, creating challenges for researchers.

However, medication can help with symptoms, like sores and outbreaks. Medication also reduces the risk of transmission to others. Most medications for herpes are taken orally, though they may also be applied as a cream or administered by injection.

When To See A Doctor

Because a person might not have symptoms even if they have herpes, it can be difficult to know when to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.

Planned Parenthood recommends that a person see a healthcare professional as soon as they notice sores on or around their genitals. Other STIs, such as syphilis, can have similar symptoms but require different treatment. The American Sexual Health Association also recommends seeing a doctor to get a culture of any lesion or cold sore a person notices.

People may wish to take an at-home STI test before seeing a doctor. However, at-home tests should not replace professional diagnosis and treatment.

  • applying aloe vera gel to sores
  • applying petroleum jelly to the affected areas
  • wearing loose clothing to avoid irritation
  • refraining from sexual activity, even with protection, until symptoms have gone
  • applying a cream or lotion to the urethra before urinating, such as one that contains lidocaine

Some people find that using ice packs help. However, never apply ice directly to the skin wrap it in a cloth first.

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Is Genital Herpes The Same As Cold Sores

Both cold sores and genital herpes are caused by the same herpes simplex viruses. As well as being able to transmit the infection from the lips of one person to the lips of another, or person to person between genital areas, it is also possible to pass the infection between the genital area and the lips.

Treatment For Genital Herpes

Ask a Doctor: Herpes

There is not a cure for genital herpes. Treatment is focused on relieving the symptoms associated with the condition.

Treatment includes:

Antiviral medicationsYour doctor may prescribe antiviral medications such as Zovirax or Valtrex that can help speed up the healing process and reduce symptoms. Your physician may recommend taking the medication only during outbreaks or may recommend taking it daily to prevent future outbreaks.

Home care therapyFor symptom relief, keep the infected site clean, wear loose clothing and use mild cleansers in warm water when showering.

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What Happens If You Dont Get Herpes Treatment

The good news about herpes is that its not deadly or even very dangerous. It might be annoying, but herpes doesnt get worse over time or cause serious health problems like other STDs can.

If you dont get treated for herpes, you might keep having regular outbreaks, or they could only happen rarely. Some people naturally stop getting outbreaks after a while.

There are a few reasons people may decide not to get treatment. They might not have that many outbreaks, or their outbreaks dont really bother them. Or maybe theyre not having sex, so theyre not that worried about having herpes right now. Whatever your situation is, getting treatment for herpes is your choice.

Having herpes can make it easier to get HIV, because the sores give HIV an open pathway into your body. So always use condomsto help prevent the spread of both herpes and HIV.

Genital Herpes Diagnosis And Treatment

ID Care physicians will take a swab or scraping from a suspected genital herpes sore and send the material to a diagnostic lab to be interpreted. If there are no open sores on your body, but you are concerned about an infection, our team can take a blood sample that will reveal whether or not the herpes virus is active in your body. This blood work can also let our physicians see if the virus was contracted recently or in the past to help you become more informed about your condition.

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for genital herpes. However, our team is always researching new therapies for many sexually transmitted diseases, and we partner with hospitals throughout New Jersey to improve the diagnosis and treatment of all infectious diseases. At this time, prescription antiviral medications provide the best treatment option for people with genital herpes. For those with recurrent herpes infections, there are anti-viral medications you can take daily to prevent an outbreak. Maintaining open communication with sexual partners and using safer sex practices are critical to preventing the spread of genital herpes, whether or not you are experiencing an outbreak.

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How Can I Heal Herpes Fast

Antiviral medications offer a safe and effective way of controlling a herpes outbreak and can make it go away faster. There are three popular oral treatments for genital herpes aciclovir, valaciclovir and famciclovir: Aciclovir is an antiviral medicine which stops the herpes virus from reproducing.

Why Doctors Dont Automatically Test You For Herpes

Herpes 1

OK, clearly herpes is super common. So why dont doctors automatically test for it when you ask to get tested for everything? To answer that question, its important to understand the difference between STI testing and STI screening. Testing is done when you have symptoms, whereas screening is done in the absence of symptomsjust to check to see if youve been exposed.

Doctors will screen for STIs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia even in the absence of symptoms. This is key from a public health perspective because catching these infections in time can prevent serious complications such as pelvic inflammatory disease. This happens when an untreated STI like gonorrhea or chlamydia infects reproductive organs, possibly leading to infertility.

Experts dont screen for herpes for a few reasons.

The U.S. Preventative Task Force has recommended against screening asymptomatic adolescents and adults for HSV infections. The rationale is that there is no health benefit thats been proven and there a couple of risks, Dr. Johnston says. One is a false positive test, and the second is a risk of anxiety is not associated with serious health outcomes, yet its still feared.

Even pregnant people who could theoretically risk passing the virus during childbirth are not screened unless they have a history of herpes outbreaks or a current outbreak, Peter Leone, M.D., of UNCs Institute of Global Health and Infectious Diseases, tells SELF.

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What Are The Main Symptoms Of Herpes

Many people with herpes are not aware that they have the virus, particularly in cases of genital herpes. This is because symptoms can be very mild, and in some cases there may be no symptoms at all. However, when symptoms do present, they can be severe.

  • swollen lymph nodes
  • flu-like symptoms

Symptoms of oral herpes are similar, in that fever, tiredness, and muscle aches may be experienced. One marker of oral herpes is sores around the mouth, or on the gums, tongue, inside of the cheeks, the throat, or the roof of the mouth. Before sores appear, there may be some itching, pain, tingling, or discomfort felt in the infected area.

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