What Are The Symptoms
Many people have no symptoms during the initial infection or recurrences.
However, for some people, initial infections may cause:
- painful blisters, ulcers or sores
- pain and swelling in the genital area which causes difficulty in urinating
- flu-like symptoms
- small cracks in the skin
- redness or a rash
Herpes Symptoms And Diagnosis
Herpes can be a difficult infection to diagnose, as it requires the presence of lesions so that a PCR swab can be taken. If you have any sore itchy spots, it might be worth having a test for herpes.
Currently in testing is a vaccination against the herpes virus, but this is not yet available to help prevent this common infection.
Herpes can affect any part of the body, though it commonly affects the mouth area and genitals.
Herpes Simplex can be type 1 or type 2.
Type 1 tends to be milder, but all forms of herpes can recur and cause repeated outbreaks.
Sometimes a herpes infection causes no symptoms, and sometime the symptoms may only appear once.
If your immune system gets depressed, the chances of herpes recurrence increases.
If you have frequent recurrences of herpes infection, you may benefit from taking suppressive therapy for episodes of infection or continuously if your immune system is low.
If your immune system is compromised, for example by chemotherapy or immune deficiency, its possible herpes can cause a serious internal infection.
Blood tests are not an accurate way of diagnosing herpes infection, and should not be interpreted in isolation. A swab taken of an active blister lesion which confirms the presence of the virus is the gold standard for diagnosis.
Like with any STI, if you test positive for herpes infection, we recommend you have a full screen.
So Why Is This Test Not Included Doesnt The Medical Community Care About Preventing Transmission
Although it may not feel this way, the doctors and researchers who established these guidelines have been quite thoughtful about them. If you read the documents, you can see that the researchers sensitively consider their decision from many different angles. In fact, you can learn a ton about the research on genital herpes and transmission where they discuss the reasoning for their decision.
The biggest contributing factor to the guidelines is that 1) standard herpes blood tests are not totally reliable and 2) receiving a herpes diagnosis can have a significant impact on mental health while being virtually non-threatening to your physical health.
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The Blood Tests Do Have A Lot Of Value But Here Are The Biggest Issues:
About 50% of the population has type 1 herpes. Type 1 can be genital or oral. If you have never had symptoms and obtain an IgG based type-specific blood test , and the test comes back positive for type 1, we have no way of knowing whether you are infected orally, genitally, or both. The only way we can know which location is infected is by symptoms.
About 30% of negative results for HSV 1 are false negatives. This means if you test negative, you might still have HSV 1.
If you are positive for type 2 and fall within a positive range of 1.1 – 3.5, theres a decent chance this is a false positive. About 50% of positives that fall in this range are in error, with the closer you get to 3.5 the more likely you are positive and the closer to 1.1 the less likely you are positive. There can be false positives above 3.5 as well but theyre less likely. If you do test positive within this low range, the CDC recommends confirmatory testing. The most accurate confirmatory blood test is the Western Blot. The Western Blot is more complicated to obtain and your insurance may not cover it. In addition, many doctors do not know about the high false positive rate within this range so they incorrectly diagnose their patients without getting confirmation. I have worked with a number of patients diagnosed within this range who I encouraged to follow up with the Western Blot and they discovered they were negative.
Blood tests given too early after possible exposure can be false negative.
Who Might Get Herpes Simplex
People of any age can contract herpes simplex. You are more likely to get the virus if you:
- Were assigned female at birth.
- Have had multiple sex partners.
- Started having sex at a young age.
- Have a history of any sexually transmitted infection .
- Have a weakened immune system.
- Dont use condoms for intercourse and dental dams for oral sex.
Who gets HSV-1, commonly known as oral herpes?
Anyone can get HSV-1. Most people contract HSV-1 during childhood. It spreads when an adult who has the virus has close contact with a child, such as when a family member kisses a child.
Who gets HSV-2, commonly known as genital herpes?
Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms or dental dams.
People assigned female at birth are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black people who were AFAB are especially vulnerable, with an estimated 1 in 2 people AFAB between the ages of 14 and 49 infected with HSV-2.
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How We Chose The Best At
When researching at-home herpes tests, we considered online reviews, privacy protocols, result times, result accuracy, and budget.
We prioritized affordable pricing and accessibility to digital results. Additionally, we kept an eye on user ratings and reviews to ensure that most people received accurate results and were happy with their experience.
If You Have Genital Herpes Already Can It Be Spread To Other Parts Of The Body Such As The Arms Or Legs
No. Genital herpes cannot be transmitted to another part of your body such as your arm, leg or hand after the first infection occurs. If you have genital HSV II, you will not get HSV II at another site in your body. The immune system produces antibodies that protect other parts of your body from infection. However, there are cases where a person has multiple site infections from the same virus. This is usually acquired at the time of the first infection. For example, if someone has never had herpes but then has oral and genital sex with an infected partner, they can acquire the infection at both sites.
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They Worry About Potential Stigma
One of the biggest issues surrounding testing for highly socially stigmatized diseases such as genital herpes and genital warts is that some healthcare providers believe that the emotional trauma of a diagnosis causes more harm than the potential for spreading a disease asymptomatically.
It’s true that finding out you have herpes or genital warts can be a life-changing experience. It can induce major depression, affect social and romantic relationships, and overall have a highly negative impact on someone’s lifeeven if they never have symptoms.
Combined with the fact that you may live your whole life never knowing you are living with one of these diseases, some healthcare providers question if there is a real benefit to doing the test.
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.
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It Isn’t Their Area Of Expertise
Who should test you for sexually transmitted infections? Your primary care physician? Your gynecologist? Your urologist? Dermatologist?
Realistically speaking, any of those healthcare providers could test you for most STIs. But STI screening isn’t always available in every clinic.
Some blood tests can be ordered by almost any healthcare provider. Other urine and swab tests require skills or expertise that not all healthcare providers have.
Specialized STI clinics should have healthcare providers on site who are trained in performing tests and should have all of the equipment needed to test for STIs.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force recommends that clinicians screen for HIV infection in adolescents and adults ages 15 to 65 years. The CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 be tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. For those at higher risk, the CDC recommends getting tested at least once a year.
They Lack Access To The Right Lab
Some diagnostic tests require specialized collection equipment, tools, or laboratory supplies. Not all healthcare providers have these at their disposal.
If you want or need to be tested for a disease, and your healthcare provider doesn’t have the required materials, then the only solution is to seek a healthcare provider or lab that does. Your healthcare provider may even have a provider or lab that they refer patients to regularly.
This will mainly be an issue for certain urine tests, bacterial cultures, and smears rather than blood tests. However, some blood tests do require special collection tubes or types of preparation that may not be available in all healthcare providers’ offices.
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Do Not Order Herpes Serology Tests Unless There Is A Clear Clinical Indication
Herpes serology is not an appropriate screening test in asymptomatic patients and does not accurately confirm whether the person is infected or is a transmission risk to others from asymptomatic shedding. Clinicians also need to consider whether test results will influence treatment or outcomes because, if they do not, then testing is a waste of finite health resources and is not indicated. Herpes serology tests only have good sensitivity and specificity in high prevalence populations. However, selective use of herpes serological tests may be justified for particular groups, such as those at high risk for STIs and human immunodeficiency virus infection who are motivated to reduce their sexual risk behaviour HIV-infected patients patients with sexual partners with genital herpes and in cases where a woman appears to have a first episode of herpes simplex virus during pregnancy.
This recommendation is endorsed by The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists .
In July 2018 the Australasian Chapter of Sexual Health Medicine undertook a review of their Top-5 recommendations. Due to changes in evidence, and physician support, recommendation 5 was replaced. The removed recommendation read: Reconsider the use of nucleic acid amplification testing for gonorrhoea in low-prevalence populations and people who do not belong to a higher risk group.
When Should You Get Tested
The best time to get tested for herpes varies, depending on what’s happening.
If you’re exhibiting symptoms of an initial outbreak which include pain, itching and redness of the affected location fatigue, fever and chills and, ultimately, painful sores or ulcers it’s best to see a healthcare professional about getting tested.
However, if you think you’ve been exposed to the virus and aren’t yet exhibiting symptoms, HSV may take some time before being able to show results on a test. While the exact time frame is unknown and varies from person to person, two weeks is usually enough time to yield accurate test results.
Most people become concerned about being infected with the herpes virus after contact with a potentially infected person. Often, simple things like kissing someone with a visible cold sore or facial acne around the lips can cause concern about HSV-1.
For genital herpes, most people become concerned about potentially being infected after sexual contact with a person that shows symptoms of herpes. This can include oral sex with someone that has cold sores, which can potentially spread to the genitals.
Since herpes is asymptomatic in many people, you could be infected with the virus even if you dont have any symptoms.
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Herpes In Newborn Babies
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can cause significant infections in newborn babies. Neonatal herpes is an uncommon but serious infection, where the herpes virus is transmitted to the baby during birth.
The risk of transmission to a newborn is highest when a woman acquires an initial herpes infection in the last 3 months of pregnancy. In such cases, a caesarean delivery is recommended.
A woman with recurrent genital herpes has a low risk of transmitting the virus to their newborn. A caesarean delivery would be considered only if visible HSV ulcers are present at the time of the delivery.
During pregnancy, to reduce the risk of infection:
- a partner with cold sores should not perform oral sex on their pregnant partner, unless the pregnant partner is known to already have HSV-1 infection.
- a partner with genital herpes should consider using suppressive antiviral therapy, condoms or dams and a good lubricant throughout their partners pregnancy.
- pregnant people with recurrent herpes may choose to take suppressive therapy during the final few weeks of pregnancy, to prevent recurrences and therefore avoid a caesarean delivery. This has been shown to be both safe and effective.
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.
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They Do Not See You As At Risk
It’s easy to get tested for STIs if you’re young and unmarried. But if you’re older, many healthcare providers may not be as worried about you as they should be.
In part, this is because young people are actually at greater risk of STIs. It’s also because the older you get, the less sex your healthcare provider tends to think you are having.
Healthcare providers are more likely to suggest STI screening, or agree to screen you if they think of you as “at risk.” It’s a false choice, though, because even many people who seem to be at low risk are far from risk-free.
What Is Herpes Simplex
Herpes simplex is a virus that causes skin infections. The infection lasts your lifetime, and it causes painful or itchy sores and blisters that come and go. Herpes simplex virus typically doesnt cause severe problems. But it can be dangerous in infants and people with weakened immune systems. There are two types of herpes simplex:
- Herpes simplex 1 tends to affect your mouth or face. It causes cold sores. HSV-1 spreads through contact with saliva .
- Herpes simplex 2 is a sexually transmitted disease . It causes sores on skin that comes in contact with the genitals of an infected person.
Sometimes a herpes infection can affect other parts of your body, such as your eyes or other parts of your skin.
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How Is Herpes Simplex Diagnosed
Healthcare providers may diagnose herpes simplex based on how the sores look. Your provider may take a sample from the sore. Laboratory analysis of the sample can confirm or rule out the herpes virus.
If you dont have sores, your healthcare provider can use a blood test to check for HSV-1 and HSV-2 antibody, a marker showing youve been exposed to the virus. The blood test doesnt show an active infection . But it informs your provider whether youve been exposed to the herpes virus in the past. If this is your first infection, you may not test positive for herpes if there hasnt been enough time for your body to develop antibodies. The HSV-1and HSV-2 antibody test may be repeated in eight to 12 weeks.
What Do The Results Mean
Your HSV test results will be given as negative, also called normal, or positive, also called abnormal.
Negative/Normal. The herpes virus was not found. You may still have an HSV infection if your results were normal. It may mean the sample didn’t have enough of the virus to be detected. If you still have symptoms of herpes, you may need to get tested again.
Positive/Abnormal. HSV was found in your sample. It may mean you have an active infection , or were infected in the past .
If you tested positive for HSV, talk to your health care provider. While there is no cure for herpes, it hardly ever causes serious health problems. Some people may only have one outbreak of sores their whole lives, while others break out more often. If you want to reduce the severity and number of your outbreaks, your provider may prescribe a medicine that can help.
Learn more about laboratory tests, reference ranges, and understanding results.
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