How Do I Know If I Have Genital Herpes
Most people with genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Mild symptoms may go unnoticed or be mistaken for other skin conditions like a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people do not know they have a herpes infection.
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum or mouth. This is known as having an outbreak. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. Flu-like symptoms also may occur during the first outbreak.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they have HSV-2. However, repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although genital herpes is a lifelong infection, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
Ask a healthcare provider to examine you if:
- You notice any symptoms or
- Your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD.
STD symptoms can include an unusual sore, a smelly genital discharge, burning when peeing, or bleeding between periods .
What Does A Herpes Outbreak Feel Like
Symptoms usually appear within 2 weeks of exposure.
The first outbreak is usually the worst. At first, you might develop some flu-like symptoms. Then you might feel itchy or have an uncomfortable feeling around your genitals or mouth before the lesions appear.
Future outbreaks are likely to be milder and resolve faster.
You may have heard that herpes is only contagious during an outbreak. However, it can be transmitted even though there are no visible signs. You can have herpes and not know it.
For those reasons, its important to try to talk with your sexual partners before assuming or blaming.
It can be a challenging situation to cope with. Learning you have herpes can stir a variety of emotions. Its normal to have mixed feelings and wonder what to expect.
Its important to make an appointment with your healthcare provider as quickly as possible. If you have herpes, your healthcare provider can provide important information about managing your condition.
Make a list of questions before you go, which can help you get the most out of your visit. Let your healthcare provider know if youre having trouble understanding the information.
The more you know and understand about herpes, the better prepared youll be to manage your symptoms and condition. Your healthcare provider will help you create a treatment plan that works best for your medical needs.
Duration Of Fungal Infection And Herpes
A significant difference between herpes and yeast infection is the duration of the infection. Fungal infection is temporary, but the herpes virus infects us permanently for a lifetime.
Permanent infection is one of the reasons why herpes is such a dreaded disease. Many people find it difficult to accept that they will have herpes throughout their lives.
The herpes simplex virus infects the host and at certain periods produces a visible infection known as a herpes outbreak that can last 10 to 12 days.
Herpes is a recurrent disease because the virus reactivates causing repeated outbreaks. Recurrences vary from person to person and outbreaks occur in the same area as the initial outbreak.
Onychomycosis is not a permanent disease, but it is not cured by treatments that work against fungal infections in other parts of the body. If proper treatment is not used, it can infect us for life just like herpes.
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If I Don’t Have Herpes Now How Can I Avoid It In The Future
The only sure-fire way to avoid getting genital herpes is to abstain from sex or have sex only with someone who is also herpes-free. Short of that, a latex condom offers some protection if it covers the infected area. Remember, you can get genital herpes by receiving oral sex from someone with a cold sore on the mouth. Likewise, you can get oral herpes from someone’s genitals by way of oral sex.
If you know that a sex partner has genital herpes, you can reduce your risk by having sex only when they have no symptoms. Nevertheless, genital herpes can be contagious even when there are no visible symptoms, so you should always use a latex barrier, such as a condom or a dental dam.
If your partner has a known history of herpes, the rate of transmission can be decreased by having your partner on a daily prophylactic dose of antiviral herpes medication like acyclovir. Your partners doctor can prescribe this.
Studies are under way to investigate medicated gel products that can be placed in the to reduce the transmission of herpes and HIV. These may be available in the near future.
What Happens If I Dont Get Treated
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or the fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another part of your body, such as your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, immediately wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading your infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your developing fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? above for information about this.
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What Should I Do If I Have Genital Herpes
If you have genital herpes:
- See a doctor or nurse as soon as possible for testing and treatment.
- Take all of the medicine. Even if symptoms go away, you need to finish all of the antiviral medicine.
- Tell your sex partner so they can be tested and treated if necessary.
- Avoid any sexual contact while you are being treated for genital herpes or while you have an outbreak.
- Remember that genital herpes is a lifelong disease. Even though you may not have a genital herpes outbreak for long periods of time, you can still pass the virus to another person at any time. Talk with your doctor or nurse about how to prevent passing the virus to another person.
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When To Call The Doctor
Even though HSV sores can hurt and be unsightly, most cases of herpes do not cause serious illness. The sores go away in a few days. Contact the health provider if:
- Sores are present and you think it might be a first herpes infection. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the sores. If the sores have not healed, sometimes a laboratory test is done.
- Sores do not heal by themselves or show signs of infection such as pus, spreading redness or fever.
- Sores are near the eyes.
- You have another health condition with a weakened immune system.
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Can I Be Treated To Prevent Genital Herpes Transmission To My Partner
Yes. A large study showed that if one partner has herpes and the other partner is uninfected, treating the infected partner with suppressive therapy can prevent transmission of symptomatic herpes in over 90% of cases. This is an option for couples who are interested in having unprotected sex or who are planning to become pregnant.
If you are entering into a new relationship and are aware that you have herpes simplex infection, you owe it to your partner to notify them before having sex.
What Else Should I Know
Genital herpes is a lifelong condition, but there are ways to manage it. If you have genital herpes:
- Take medicines to stop outbreaks or make them less frequent and less severe.
- Help reduce the risk of spreading genital herpes to others by taking medicines, always using a condom during sex, and avoiding sex during outbreaks.
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Sometimes There Are No Symptoms
Some people who contract herpes can go for years before having their first outbreak. Its even possible to have no symptoms at all but still pass on the virus. For some reason, male carriers of herpes seem to have no symptoms but still be infectious more often than females.
But why? Everyones body and immune systems is different. Plus, some strains of the virus are less aggressive than others. Studies also suggest that people who already have HSV-1 are less likely to show symptoms of genital HSV-2 as quickly as those who dont.
Interestingly, the CDC doesnt recommend herpes testing without the presence of symptoms. One reason is that a potential false positive result would have undue psychological costs for the patient. They also dont believe routine tests would have a large enough impact to curb the spread of the infection.
Without symptoms, how do you know if you have herpes thats dormant? Talk to your physician and decide if your symptoms or history warrant a check-up. If you know that you have been exposed to the virus by sexual or other physical contact, you may decide you have a valid reason to be concerned. Remember that herpes can spread even while using a condom. Whats more, oral herpes can be spread to the genitals from oral sex.
Is Genital Herpes Related To Shingles
Shingles, also called herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella zoster virus , which causes chickenpox earlier in life. The natural history of varicella zoster infection is similar to genital herpes infection in that VZV also becomes latent in the sensory nerve roots. Later in life the virus may exit, causing shingles.
Recurrences in shingles cause blister lesions in a single area of skin called a dermatome. Shingles is not a sexually transmitted infection and is independent from genital herpes.
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How Herpes Is Spread
You are most likely to spread herpes when you have a herpes sore or blister. But many people have time periods when they can still spread the virus even though they donât have symptoms.
And some people spread the infection because they donât realize that they have a herpes sore. Or they may have different symptoms, such as painful urination, that they donât realize are part of an outbreak.
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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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How To Recognize Herpes
This article was medically reviewed by Lacy Windham, MD. Dr. Windham is a board certified Obstetrician & Gynecologist in Tennessee. She attended medical school at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis and completed her residency at the Eastern Virginia Medical School in 2010, where she was awarded the Most Outstanding Resident in Maternal Fetal Medicine, Most Outstanding Resident in Oncology, and Most Outstanding Resident Overall.There are 16 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 646,027 times.
Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. It has two variations, the HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 usually manifests as a cold sore, or oral lesion, but may sometimes appear on the genitals. HSV-2 refers to genital herpes. HSV-2 is the most common viral sexually transmitted infection in the US and causes infections of the skin and mucous membranes, rectum, eyes, and central nervous system. Herpes is a lifelong and incurable STI.XResearch sourceA Wald, Genital HSV-1 Infections, Sexually Transmitted Infections, 2005 June, 82, 189-190 If you think you may have the virus, follow a few simple steps to recognize if you have herpes.
Is There A Test For Genital Herpes
Yes. A doctor can take a sample from what appears to be a herpes sore and send it to a lab to be examined. You can also have a blood test. The blood test looks for antibodies to the virus that your immune system would have made when you were infected. HSV-2 almost always infects the genitals, so if antibodies to HSV-2 are detected in the blood, you probably have genital herpes.
A blood test that shows antibodies to HSV-1 means you could have genital or oral herpes. Thatâs because oral herpes, typically caused by HSV-1, can be spread to the genitals during oral sex.
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What Are The Complications Of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes may cause painful genital ulcers that can be severe and persistent in persons with suppressed immune systems, such as HIV-infected persons. 5 Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can also cause rare but serious complications such as aseptic meningitis . 5 Development of extragenital lesions may occur during the course of infection. 5
There are also potential complications for a pregnant woman and her newborn child. See How does herpes infection affect a pregnant woman and her baby? below for information about this.
Treating A Herpes Cold Sore
Because a herpes cold sore is caused by the virus, it needs to be treated with antiviral medicines. These medicines include:
- Valacyclovir , Famciclovir and Acyclovir . These meds can help to relieve pain and discomfort. Also, they can keep the sores from popping up in the first place. To get the best results, you need to take them before an outbreak occurs. Once the sores are present, these medicines will not help much.
- Prosurx- Nanomedicine HSV-1 & HSV-2 treatment. Prosurx is one of the best over-the-counter topical medicines to treat a herpes cold sore. This cream can provide immediate relief from herpes symptoms. Also, it can help to prevent the sores before they start. Prosurx can attack HSV-1 at its root, thus helping prevent future outbreaks. You can apply this every time you think you have a herpes cold sore. This will stop your outbreak, soothe the symptoms and heal your damaged skin.
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Recognizing The Signs: The Prodrome
Early in the phase of reactivation , many people experience an itching, tingling, or painful feeling in the area where their recurrent lesions will develop. This sort of warning symptomcalled a prodromeoften comes a day or two before lesions appear. To be on the safe side, its best to assume virus is active during these times.
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What Are The Chances Of A Male Passing Herpes To A Female
In general, women have a higher risk of becoming infected than men. Having other sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV also increases the risk of transmission. In studies with couples where one partner had genital herpes, the other partner became infected within one year in 5 to 10% of the couples.
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The Right Person Wont Reject You
The truth is, some people will reject you when they find out you have herpes. To quote a herpes support forum poster, dating with herpes can be stressful. However, if you do these things, then being diagnosed with herpes is not the end of the world:
- Talk about your diagnosis early
- Have information handy so that you can talk honestly about the actual risks and concerns of the disease
- Be willing to do what you can to reduce the chance you will spread herpes to your partner
Numerous people with genital and oral herpes are open about disclosing their condition. Most of them have active, happy dating and sexual lives. The truth is, its so hard to meet the right person that dating with herpes makes it only the tiniest bit harder. Life after herpes doesnt mean life without love.
How Does It Spread
Oral herpes is transmitted through direct contact between the infected persons contagious area and another persons mucous membrane tissue, such as the mouth or genitals. If a cut is present, the virus enters through broken skin. However, a person does not have to be showing any symptoms to transmit mouth herpes.
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Questions To Ask Your Doctor
- What is the best treatment for me?
- Are there any side effects to my treatment?
- Is it safe to have unprotected sex if I dont have any sores?
- Can I give myself genital herpes if I also have oral herpes?
- Can I give someone else herpes even if Im not having an outbreak?
- What is the best way to prevent herpes outbreaks?
- Can I live a normal life with herpes?
- Am I at risk of developing any other diseases?
- Are there any support groups in my area?
- If I give my baby herpes, what is the treatment?
How To Recognize Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a very common sexually transmitted disease . It is so common that many people, when they find any skin lesion around the genital areas, are likely to think that it is herpes. They are not entirely wrong to think that way. Genital herpes is the main cause of genital ulcers worldwide.1 And the condition is usually associated with a stigma that can itself cause anxiety and even depression2 and might influence the affected personâs decision to disclose the infection to others or seek care.3
A genital sore is not great news regardless of what is causing it. However, many other conditions causing genital sores have a prognosis different from that of herpes. Some can be worse, but others, unlike herpes,4 can be completely cured. Thatâs why weâre beginning this article with an explanation of how to recognize genital herpes and differentiate it from other genital skin lesions.
A sleeping virus
The herpes virus is known for staying âasleepâ in the body for a long time without showing symptoms. This feature is called latency: once the virus infects a person, after an initial phase that does not necessarily manifest with symptoms, it remains hidden in the body for many years, reactivating every now and then.4 Its reactivation is usually triggered by weakness of the immune system, such as in times of sustained stress, accumulated fatigue, heavy physical activity, or fever, but may not have any apparent cause.5, 6
Herpes skin lesions
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