Can herpes not be painful: Genital herpes: Signs and symptoms
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STD Facts – Genital Herpes
People who are sexually active can get genital herpes, a common sexually transmitted disease (STD). This fact sheet answers basic questions about genital herpes.
What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is an STD caused by two types of viruses – herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).
What is oral herpes?
HSV-1 often causes oral herpes, which can result in cold sores or fever blisters on or around the mouth. However, most people with oral herpes do not have any symptoms. Most people with oral herpes get it during childhood or young adulthood from non-sexual contact with saliva.
Is there a link between genital herpes and oral herpes?
Yes. Oral herpes caused by HSV-1 can spread from the mouth to the genitals through oral sex. This is why some cases of genital herpes are due to HSV-1.
How common is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is common in the United States. In 2018, CDC estimates show there were 572,000 new genital herpes infections in the United States among people aged 14 to 49.1
How is genital herpes spread?
You can get genital herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the infection. You can get herpes if you have contact with:
- A herpes sore;
- Saliva from a partner with an oral herpes infection;
- Genital fluids from a partner with a genital herpes infection;
- Skin in the oral area of a partner with oral herpes; or
- Skin in the genital area of a partner with genital herpes.
You also can get genital herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or is unaware of their infection. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a partner with oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools. You also will not get it from touching objects, such as silverware, soap, or towels.
If you have more questions about herpes, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
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 (e.g., fever, body aches, or swollen glands) 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 (if you have a menstrual cycle).
How will my healthcare provider know if I have genital herpes?
Your healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes by simply looking at any sores that are present. Providers can also take a sample from the sore(s) and test it. If sores are not present, a blood test may be used to look for HSV antibodies.
Have an honest and open talk with your healthcare provider about herpes testing and other STDs.
Please note: A herpes blood test can help determine if you have herpes infection. It cannot tell you who gave you the infection or when you got the infection.
How can I prevent genital herpes?
The only way to completely avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex.
If you are sexually active, you can do the following things to lower your chances of getting genital herpes:
- Being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who does not have herpes.
- Using condoms the right way every time you have sex.
Be aware that not all herpes sores occur in areas that a condom can cover. Also, the skin can release the virus (shed) from areas that do not have a visible herpes sore. For these reasons, condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
If your sex partner(s) has/have genital herpes, you can lower your risk of getting it if:
- Your partner takes an anti-herpes medicine every day. This is something your partner should discuss with his or her healthcare provider.
- You avoid having vaginal, anal, or oral sex when your partner has herpes symptoms (i. e., during an “outbreak”).
Is there a cure for genital herpes?
There is no cure for genital herpes. However, there are medicines that can prevent or shorten outbreaks. A daily anti-herpes medicine can make it less likely to pass the infection on to your sex partner(s).
What happens if I don’t receive treatment?
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another body part like 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, quickly wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading the infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your unborn fetus, or newborn baby. See “I’m pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby?” for information about this.
I’m pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby?
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby (called neonatal herpes). It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a ‘C-section’ is likely to occur.
Can I still have sex if I have herpes?
If you have herpes, you should talk to your sex partner(s) about their risk. Using condoms may help lower this risk but it will not get rid of the risk completely. Having sores or other symptoms of herpes can increase your risk of spreading the disease. Even if you do not have any symptoms, you can still infect your sex partners.
You may have concerns about how genital herpes will impact your health, sex life, and relationships. While herpes is not curable, it is important to know that it is manageable with medicine. Daily suppressive therapy (i.e., daily use of antiviral medication) can lower your risk of spreading the virus to others. Talk to a healthcare provider about your concerns and treatment options.
A genital herpes diagnosis may affect how you will feel about current or future sexual relationships. Knowing how to talk to sexual partners about STDs is important.
What is the link between genital herpes and HIV?
Herpes infection can cause sores or breaks in the skin or lining of the mouth, vagina, and rectum. This provides a way for HIV to enter the body. Even without visible sores, herpes increases the number of immune cells in the lining of the genitals. HIV targets immune cells for entry into the body. Having both HIV and genital herpes increases the chance of spreading HIV to a HIV-negative partner during oral, vagina, or anal sex.
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8 myths about herpes – GBUZ “Crimean Central District Hospital” MH KK
Herpes is a common viral disease, with a characteristic rash of clustered blisters on the skin and mucous membranes. The famous ancient Greek historian Herodotus wrote about this unpleasant disease even before our era. It was he who gave her the appropriate name (from the Greek “herpein” – to crawl), thanks to the ability of herpetic ulcers to “spread” in different directions from the primary bubble. For many centuries of “communication” with herpes, humanity has recreated many myths about this disease, the most common of which we asked to comment on the acting head of the Health Center of the State Budgetary Institution of Health “TsOZiMP” of the Ministry of Health of the Territory Irina Volkova.
Myth 1. Herpes is not contagious.
– Exactly the opposite. Herpes is transmitted by airborne droplets (when coughing, sneezing, talking), contact (when kissing, using shared utensils, lipstick) and sexually. Perhaps also infection of the child from the mother at birth.
Myth 2. Herpes is a manifestation of the “cold”.
– In fact, herpes is an independent disease that predetermines the herpes simplex virus. It is usually activated during hypothermia, stress, overwork, exacerbation of chronic diseases or a decrease in general immunity.
Myth 3. If a rash appears on the lips, the cold subsides.
– A common point of view, which, however, has nothing to do with reality. The appearance of a rash means that a respiratory infection has weakened the immune system, and this has given the herpes virus the opportunity to actively act.
Myth 4. If the rash is gone, herpes is cured.
– That would be great, but, unfortunately, it is impossible to remove the virus from the body. He stays with a person for life, and you can only force him to be in a “sleeping” state.
Myth 5. You can get herpes only if you have a rash.
– Indeed, in the active phase of the disease, a greater number of viral particles are released and the likelihood of infection is higher. But the infection can be transmitted at any time through invisible microtraumas of the skin and mucous membranes.
Myth 6. A condom completely protects against infection with genital herpes.
– A condom does reduce the risk of infection, but, unfortunately, it does not give a 100% guarantee. Transmission of the virus can take place through parts of the body that are not covered by a condom.
Myth 7. The best treatment for herpes is cauterization with alcohol, iodine or brilliant green.
– Cauterization does not affect the herpes virus and its activity, but it is very easy to burn damaged skin and mucous membranes in this way. It is better to gently lubricate the rash with an antiseptic that does not contain alcohol so that a purulent infection does not join. Manifestations of the disease are treated with special antiviral drugs. If you have herpes, be sure to consult a doctor!
Myth 8. Herpes affects only the skin and does not pose a particular danger to humans.
– In fact, herpes is the second leading cause of death from viral infections, second only to SARS. The herpes simplex virus is built into the genome of nerve cells, so the rash occurs at the sites of nerve endings and is accompanied by severe pain. Theoretically, herpes can be everywhere where there is nervous tissue, and therefore – in almost any organ. With a decrease in general and local immunity, herpetic inflammation can develop in the mucous membrane of the mouth and larynx, cornea and conjunctiva of the eye, lymph nodes, internal genital organs, intestines, liver, kidneys, lungs and central nervous system. Moreover, genital herpes significantly increases the risk of cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.
Herpes is a very insidious disease, which is much easier to prevent than to cure. Remember this, strictly follow the rules of personal hygiene!
Earlier, a therapist at the Health Center of the State Budgetary Institution of Health “TsOZiMP” of the Ministry of Health of the Territory spoke about the prevention of psoriasis.
GBUZ “Center for Public Health and Medical Prevention” of the Ministry of Health of the Krasnodar Territory
Herpes: symptoms and treatment, doctor’s recommendations
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- Herpes: causes, symptoms, and treatment of the virus
“Cold” on the lips is familiar to almost everyone. It is worth catching a runny nose or getting nervous, as an unpleasant harbinger immediately appears – a tingling sensation somewhere near the mouth.
The herpes simplex virus is present in the body of 95% of people. And only a few have immunity, the reasons for which are still not understood.
The virus enters the body in early childhood: at 3-4 years old, when the antibodies against the herpes virus transmitted to the baby by the mother are depleted. Most often, infection occurs if the child is kissed by carriers of the infection. In addition to a kiss, the virus can enter the body, for example, with saliva. It penetrates into the mucous membranes, reaches the nerve endings, rises into the cranial cavity, where it “hides” in the nerve plexus, called the trigeminal ganglion, and “sleeps” there until it is reactivated.
Herpes “wakes up” with a decrease in immunity
Causes of recurrence of herpes on the lips: stress or emotional upset; various other diseases, in particular colds, flu, diabetes, HIV; poisoning or intoxication; alcohol, caffeine and smoking; excessive ultraviolet radiation; hypothermia or overheating; the onset of menstruation; overwork and exhaustion; malnutrition/diet or indigestion; other individual factors for each person.
After “waking up” the virus is sent back to the skin. When moving through a nerve, the virus causes inflammation of the nerve tissue.
The development of herpes can be divided into several stages. At the first stage, the person feels unwell. Pain, tingling appear at the site of the appearance of the “fever”, the skin turns red. At the stage of inflammation, a small, painful vesicle filled with fluid forms. After a while, the vial bursts and a colorless liquid containing billions of viral particles flows out of it. An ulcer appears in its place. At the final stage, the sore is covered with a crust.
Most often, herpes appears on the lips, but lesions can also appear on the face, around the ears, or in the oral cavity.
What to do if you have a “cold” on your lips
At the moment, no medicines and treatments have been developed that would completely destroy the herpes simplex virus in the human body. But a few tips for those suffering from herpes can be given.
Strictly follow the rules of personal hygiene! Since herpes is contagious, wash your hands with soap and use separate dishes and towels.
Don’t bring your hands to your eyes! And don’t wet your lenses with saliva! Herpes can affect the mucous membrane of the eye.
It is not recommended to touch a viral rash, kiss. The virus can be transmitted by wearing one lipstick or smoking one cigarette.
If you try to remove a blister or crust over an ulcer, the virus can spread to other parts of the body.
Give up oral sex! A virus from affected lips can cause genital herpes in a partner.
A young mother must also take certain precautions to protect her baby from contracting herpes. If you have cold sores, wash your hands with soap every time before touching your baby. And in no case should the affected surface come into contact with the skin of the child.
How to minimize discomfort
Starting to use anti-herpes drugs should begin as soon as you feel a tingling sensation. Medications won’t get rid of the virus, but they will stop it from progressing and speed up your recovery. There are drugs that prevent the development of the virus: tablets, ointments for external use, which help the healing of blisters and ulcers, reduce discomfort.
When applying the ointment, use cotton swabs to avoid transmitting the virus from the lips to the skin of the fingers.
Herpes requires the attention of specialists! A “cold” on the lips can be a symptom of serious diseases: a sharp decrease in immunity, cancer, HIV infection.
If you suffer from relapses of herpes – consult a doctor. The specialist will not only relieve you of unnecessary worries and eliminate the danger to health, but will also help you choose a comprehensive program for the prevention and treatment of herpes.
To make an appointment with an immunologist or a dermatologist for the program of diagnosis and treatment of herpes, call the Family Doctor clinic +7 (495) 775 75 66 (clinic hours: Mon-Fri from 8.