What Triggers Your Herpes Outbreaks
Herpes is caused by one of two viruses: herpes simplex type 1 or herpes simplex type 2 . Herpes is different from many other common viral infections. Most importantly, it doesn’t go away. The virus tends to lie dormant in the nerve root causing no symptoms whatsoever. But, at any time, it can travel the nerve pathways in a particular part of the bodythe virus can reactivate and cause a flare-up or recurrence.
Onset Of First Outbreak
The first outbreak of oral herpes usually develops within about one to three weeks after infection. This initial outbreak may last for up to three weeks.
With genital herpes, the first outbreak usually occurs within about two to 20 days. Similar to oral herpes, the initial outbreak may last as long as three weeks.
Pay Attention To What You Eat
ASHA reports that some people believe foods containing the amino acid arginine, such as legumes and whole grains, can contribute to outbreaks. A few older studies, conducted in 1981 and 1987, showed a possible connection, but ASHA states there is no clinical evidence to support these studies. However, because triggers may vary based on the individual, keep track of the foods you eat to determine if there is a connection.
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Meet Nearby People With Herpes
PositiveSingles is the largest online dating and support community for people with herpes. Online since 2001, it has the largest user base among all the STD dating sites and APPs. You will find out there are plenty of people around you.
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Prevent The Spread Of Herpes
If you have herpes, . Talk about what it is and what you and your partner need to know and do to protect themselves. Avoid skin-to-skin contact during outbreaks and refrain from all sexual activity during these times. In between outbreaks, you should still because there is still the potential of spreading the virus.
This is an update of an article originally written by HealthCentral contributor Penelope James.
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When To See A Doctor
People should see their doctor if they think they might have herpes, or if they have any symptoms of herpes. Getting tested for herpes is also important to rule out other sexually transmitted infections.
People can visit their doctor or a sexual health clinic for a test. If people have any sores or blisters present, a healthcare provider will use a swab to take a sample from the sores. The sample will indicate whether or not the sores are due to a herpes infection.
Some people may be concerned that they have the herpes virus but no symptoms. In such cases, a doctor might be able to order a blood test to check for the virus in a persons blood. However, the
What Increases Your Risk
Things that increase your risk of getting genital herpes include:
- Having more than one sex partner.
- Having a high-risk partner or partners .
- Having unprotected sexual contact .
- Starting sexual activity at a young age. The younger people are when they start having sex, the greater their risk is of getting genital herpes.
- Having a weakened immune system.
- Being a woman. Women are more likely than men to become infected when exposed to genital herpes. And their symptoms tend to be more severe and longer-lasting. Women also are at a greater risk of having complications from a genital herpes infection.
Having herpes, especially if you have open sores, also increases your risk for becoming infected with HIV if you are exposed to HIV.
Any child with genital herpes needs to be evaluated by a doctor to see if it is the result of sexual abuse. For more information, see the topic Child Abuse and Neglect.
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What Are The Possible Complications Of A Cold Sore
Cold sores usually go away by themselves within 2 weeks. For most people cold sores are not serious. The viruses that cause cold sores can cause more serious illness, though. People who have a weak immune system may get more serious infections from herpes viruses. These include people being treated for cancer or who have HIV disease. Babies may also become very ill from a herpes infection.
How Does Herpes Simplex Spread
Herpes spreads through close contact with a person who has the infection. The virus can be found in skin and saliva. If you have herpes simplex, you are most likely to pass the virus to another person when you have sores. But you can infect someone else even if you have no symptoms. Healthcare providers call this asymptomatic viral shedding.
People may get HSV-1 through
- Touching a persons skin near the mouth.
- Sharing food utensils, lip balm or razors.
- If you receive oral sex from someone who has a cold sore, it may spread a herpes infection to your genitals.
People may get HSV-2 through
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother or gestational parent who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
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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.
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Why Does Genital Herpes Come Back
There are many different things that may trigger herpes recurrences. Sometimes, a person can learn to recognise why outbreaks appear but for other people there does not seem to be any particular reason for it.
Between recurrences the virus travels from the skin along the nerve to the nerve ganglion where it remains. Once you have been infected, the virus remains in the body, just as chickenpox and some other viruses do. Recurrent symptoms occur when the virus is reactivated or triggered. The symptoms normally appear in the same area as the first time. For some people they may move a short distance, e.g. from genitals to buttocks, but always within the same dermatome .
Some people feel aching, tingling, burning or sharp pains in the area affected preceding a recurrence. These are called prodromal symptoms or prodromes. They are a sign that the virus is trying to reactivate and there may be virus on the skin surface. Sometimes they last for a few days then disappear without any symptoms appearing on the skin.
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Controlling Cold Sore Flareups
If you already have HSV-1, you can take measures to prevent outbreaks like cold sores. As with most illnesses, its important to eat well, exercise and get enough sleep to manage stress and give your body stamina to fight off sickness. In the case of HSV-1, it also helps to protect your face and lips from sun exposure by using sunscreen and wearing a wide-brimmed hat.
When a cold sore does appear, you can prevent spreading HSV-1 by practicing good hygiene. Try not to touch it, and if you do, make sure you wash your hands right away. That will help keep you from spreading it to other parts of your body, or to other people. Also, change your toothbrush and throw out any creams, balms, ointments or makeup youve been using on your face or lips.
Weve written before about natural ways to treat cold sores, including applying licorice root, peppermint oil, vanilla oil or extract, tea tree oil, lemon balm or manuka honey directly to the sore. Aloe vera gel also can help a cold sore heal and in lab studies has shown the potential to fight viruses, including HSV.
Thymoquinone , one of the active compounds in black cumin seed oil, has been studied for exhibiting antiviral properties. It is considered an immune system modulator, meaning it may help balance an overactive immune response. In one study, TQ was found to inhibit the entry and cell to cell spread of HSV-1.
What Causes Recurrent Herpes Simplex Labialis
Herpes simplex labialis is the result of a virus called herpes simplex virus type 1 . The initial acquisition usually occurs before age 20. It typically affects the lips and areas around the mouth.
You can get the virus from close personal contact, such as through kissing, with someone who has the virus. You can also get oral herpes from touching objects where the virus may be present. These include towels, utensils, razors for shaving, and other shared items.
Since the virus lays dormant inside the nerve cells of the face for the rest of a persons life, symptoms arent always present. However, certain events can make the virus reawaken and lead to a recurrent herpes outbreak.
Events that trigger a recurrence of oral herpes might include:
The original acquisition may not cause symptoms at all. If it does, blisters may appear near or on the mouth within 1 to 3 weeks after your first contact with the virus. The blisters might last up to 3 weeks.
In general, a recurrent episode is milder than the initial outbreak.
Symptoms of a recurrent episode may include:
- blisters or sores on the mouth, lips, tongue, nose, or gums
- burning pain around the blisters
- tingling or itching near the lips
- outbreaks of several small blisters that grow together and may be red and inflamed
Tingling or warmth on or near the lips is usually a warning sign that the cold sores of recurrent oral herpes are about to appear in 1 to 2 days.
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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
How To Treat A Herpes Flare
If you have herpes, you may experience a flare-up from time to time. There are sometimes periods of outbreaks, followed by periods of remission. Although it is more likely to spread the virus if you have sex during an outbreak, you can still spread it when youre in remission.
If you have a herpes flare-up, you may experience the following:
- Small blisters around your genitals, rectum, or mouth
- With your first outbreak, the symptoms may last for 2-4 weeks
- The small blisters break and leave painful ulcers
- Recurring outbreaks may be shorter
- You may have lesions outside of your genital area, including your buttocks, thighs, finger, or eye
If you have symptoms of a herpes flare-up, its important to call the office right away. Dr. Patterson can prescribe an antiviral medication.
The antiviral medication should be a mainstay of managing your herpes outbreaks, especially if they occur regularly. Antiviral medications can suppress herpes outbreaks and prevent future outbreaks, as well as decreasing the likelihood that you can transmit it to your partners.
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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.
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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.
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Can I Get Genital Herpes More Than Once
There isnt a cure for HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes. Infections can come back . 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.
After infection, the virus moves from skin cells to nerve cells. In the nerve cells, it becomes inactive . Certain things may reactivate the virus, such as:
- Illness or fever.
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Do Condoms Help Prevent The Spread Of Genital Herpes
Yes. To prevent transmission of herpes, we recommend that condoms be used 100% of the time. Many patients will shed the virus and be contagious when they dont have symptoms. Studies have shown that asymptomatic shedding occurs between 1% and 3% of the time in patients with HSV II genital infections. Many new herpes infections occur from partners who are shedding the virus asymptomatically, so condoms are highly recommended.
Condoms may not be an attractive option for monogamous couples or for couples who desire to become pregnant. Couples may opt to have serological tests to determine if either partner has an asymptomatic infection. In close monogamous relationships, the risks of transmission can be weighed against other relationship issues, such as intimacy and pregnancy.
Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
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Can Women Who Have Sex With Women Get Genital Herpes
Yes. It is possible to get genital herpes, or any other STI, if you are a woman who has sex only with women.
Talk to your partner about her sexual history before having sex, and ask your doctor or nurse about getting tested if you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes. Use a during oral sex and avoid sexual activity during an outbreak.
How Long Does An Oral Herpes Outbreak Last
HSV-1, also known as oral herpes is very common and affects 2 out of 3 people globally. In many cases, the virus remains dormant and you may never even know you have it.
Oral herpes outbreaks come in the form of cold sores.
There are several stages of HSV-1:
Stage 1: Prodrome âHSV-1 comes in contact with your skin and lips, causing reddening and a tingling sensation. After 1-2 days, the affected area may feel irritated, itchy and painful.
Stage 2: Swelling and Inflammation â The affected area becomes swollen, and inflamed
Stage 3: Formation of Blisters â Red, white, or clear, fluid filled blisters and/or cold sores begin to form. They last about 2 days and appear in a cluster as a single sore that is painful or sensitive to the touch.
Stage 4: Ulceration After a day or two, the sores may burst, releasing fluid and becoming more painful. This generally subsides after about a day.
Stage 5: Scabbing or Crusting â As the sores begin to heal there may be crust that develops over the burst blister and forms a scab. After 2-3 days, new skin begins to form.
Stage 6: Healing â The scab that formed over the blister will start to heal. Do not peel the scab off until the wound is completely healed to avoid getting a scar.
While the stages of an oral herpes outbreak vary in time the process can take several weeks.
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