Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Remedies

Herpes Treatment Remedies


The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

Pathology (What is Herpes?)

Herpes simplex is an infection of either the skin or the genitalia caused by either of two strains of the herpes simplex virus.

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is transmitted orally and is responsible for cold sores and fever blisters, typically occurring around the mouth.

HSV-1 is generally associated with infections in and around the mouth and with other infections above the waist.

Clusters most frequently occur on the lips and face and occasionally on the trunk and hands.

HSV-1 may also infect the eye, causing corneal ulcers and visual impairment.

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is transmitted sexually and is the main cause of the condition known as genital herpes.

HSV-2 is sexually transmitted genital herpes and is highly contagious.

Herpes may be transmitted by individuals who are lifelong carriers but who remain asymptomatic (and may not even know they are infected).

Infections are most often acquired through direct contact with a herpes outbreak.

Sexual practices involving oral-genital contact may be responsible for some crossover infections of HSV-1 to the genital area or of HSV-2 to the mouth and lips, while other crossover infections may be the result of self-infection through hand-genital-mouth contact.

The herpes virus causes periods of active disease, identified by blisters on the skin, followed by periods of remission. After a period of active disease, the herpes virus retreats, and basically "hides" in your nerve cells.

Herpes Symptoms

Pain or itching usually begins within 2 to 10 days after exposure to an infected partner.

Red bumps and blisters usually appear several days after the pain and/or itching begins.

Ulcers form when blisters break open, ooze fluid or bleed. Ulcers can cause painful urination. As the ulcers heal, scabs form.

Most people with genital herpes don't know they have it because in most people it produces either no symptoms or very mild ones.

When symptoms occur soon after a person is infected, they tend to be severe.

The blisters and sores may be accompanied by flu-like symptoms with fever and swollen lymph nodes.

Cracked, raw, or red areas around your genitals without pain, itching, or tingling.

Itching or tingling around your genitals or your anal region.

Small blisters that break open and cause painful sores. These may be on or around your genitals (penis or vagina) or on your buttocks, thighs, or rectal area.

More rarely, blisters may occur inside the urethra, the tube urine passes through on its way out of your body.

Women can develop sores in or on the vagina, labia and cervix.

Pain from urine passing over the sores, this is especially a problem in women.

Flu-like symptoms, including fever, headaches, backaches, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue.

Rare problem related to genital herpes is Urinary retention. Difficulty urinating when the virus affects the nerves to the bladder.

Another rare problem is Encephalitis. Herpes infection that has spread to the brain causing headache, fever, confusion, and sometimes seizures.

Another rare problem is Meningitis. Inflammation of the lining around the brain. It can be recurrent, a condition known as Mollaret's meningitis.

Another rare problem is Proctitis. Inflammation of the rectum or anus that can involve pain, bleeding, fever and chills, usually related to unprotected anal sex.

Individual outbreaks of herpes vary among affected people in terms of their frequency and severity.

Usually the symptoms of recurrent herpes are less painful than those of the first infection, and the sores heal more quickly.

Herpes Causes

To infect a new person, HSV travels through breaks in the skin around the mouth or genitals. These breaks may be invisible to the human eye, but still allow the virus to pass through.

HSV-1. This is the type that usually causes cold sores or fever blisters around your mouth, though it can be spread to your genital area during oral sex. Recurrences are much less frequent than they are with HSV-2 infection.

HSV-2. This is the type that commonly causes genital herpes. The virus spreads through sexual contact and skin-to-skin contact. HSV-2 is very common and highly contagious, whether or not you have an open sore.

An infected person may transmit the disease even when he or she does not have signs or symptoms of herpes.

Avoiding sexual contact with someone with active blisters does not guarantee protection against the infection.

HSV infection is transmitted by direct person-to-person contact.

Genital herpes is acquired through sexual contact of any type that involves contact with the genital areas.

Genital herpes can also be caused by mouth to genital contact with a person who has cold sores or herpes infection of the mouth.

Transmission from an infected male to a female partner is more likely than transmission from an infected woman to a male partner.

The more sexual partners you have, the more likely you are to come into contact with HSV-2, which causes genital herpes.

Herpes Diagnosis

Your doctor usually can diagnose genital herpes based on a physical exam and the results of certain laboratory tests.

Lab tests used to diagnose herpes include a viral culture, DNA examination, and a blood test.

The herpes simplex virus is usually identifiable by its characteristic lesion: A thin-walled blister on an inflamed base of skin. However, other conditions can resemble herpes, and doctors cannot base a herpes diagnosis on visual inspection alone.

Some patients who carry the virus may not have visible genital lesions therefore laboratory tests are essential for confirming herpes diagnosis.

Viral culture. This test involves taking a tissue sample or scraping of the sores for examination in the laboratory.

For a DNA examination, a blood sample, a tissue scraping, or even spinal fluid is taken to get a sample of your DNA (the genetic material in your cells). Testing this DNA can show whether or not you have herpes and if so, which type of HSV you have.

A blood sample may also be tested to see if your body has made antibodies against HSV. If your blood has HSV antibodies this means you have had a herpes infection in the past.

Infections that can resemble genital herpes, and so may confuse the diagnosis, include fungal infections, dermatitis and urethritis.

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. PCR is used to copy your DNA from a sample of your blood, tissue from a sore or spinal fluid. The DNA can then be tested to establish the presence of HSV and determine which type of HSV you have.

Serologic (blood) tests can identify antibodies that are specific to the virus and its type, herpes virus simplex 1 (HSV-1) or herpes virus simplex 2 (HSV-2). The presence of antibodies to herpes also indicates that you are a carrier of the virus and might transmit it to others.

Serologic tests are most accurate when administered 12 - 16 weeks after exposure to the virus. Recommended tests include the following.

HerpeSelect . This includes two tests: ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) or Immunoblot. They are both highly accurate in detecting both types of herpes simplex virus. Samples need to be sent to a lab, so results take longer than the in-office Biokit test.

Biokit HSV-2 (also marketed as SureVue HSV-2). This test detects HSV-2 only. Its major advantages are that it requires only a finger prick and results are provided in less than 10 minutes. It is very accurate, although slightly less so than the other tests. It is also less expensive.

Western Blot Test. This is the gold standard for researchers with accuracy rates of 99%. It is costly and time consuming, however, and is not as widely available as the other tests.

Serologic herpes tests are recommended for people who have had recurrent genital symptoms but no negative herpes viral cultures.

Tests are also recommended for confirming infection in people who have visible symptoms of genital herpes.

Tests are also recommended for determining if the partner of someone diagnosed with genital herpes has acquired herpes.

Tests are also recommended for people who have multiple sex partners and who need to be tested for different types of STDs.

There is also a newer “type-specific” assays test for antibodies to two different proteins that are associated with the herpes virus: Glycoprotein gG-1 is associated with HSV-1 and Glycoprotein gG-2 is associated with HSV-2.

Herpes Treatment

Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications. These do not completely destroy the virus, but they may help sores heal more quickly.

A person who takes prescription antiviral medications may be less likely to spread the infection to a partner.

Acyclovir was one of the first antiviral agents, and is most active against HSV, with a positive safety profile.

Acyclovir prevents the virus from replicating (multiplying) by inhibiting the formation of viral DNA.

For the first HSV episode, Acyclovir is given for 7 to 10 days.

Acyclovir therapy (oral) for the treatment of a first episode of genital herpes reduces the duration of viral shedding by about a week, time to healing of lesions by about 4 days, and time to complete healing of signs and symptoms by 2 days.

Duration of oral acyclovir therapy for the treatment of a recurrent episode of genital herpes is 5 days.

Topical acyclovir is not effective against the herpes virus and is not recommended.

Topical anesthetic treatments such as lidocain and benzocaine can help relieve the itching and pain associated with HSV infections.

Although some believe that certain dietary supplements and alternative remedies are beneficial in the treatment of herpes, there is not sufficient evidence to support the use of these compounds.

Treatment with prescription antiviral medications may help sores heal sooner during an initial outbreak, lessen the severity and duration of symptoms in recurrent outbreaks, reduce the frequency of recurrence, and/or minimize the chance of transmitting the herpes virus to another.

Your doctor may recommend that you take the medicine only when you have symptoms of an outbreak or that you take a certain medication daily, even when you have no signs of an outbreak.

Herpes Prevention

The single most effective way to prevent genital herpes is to abstain from sexual activity or limit your sexual contact to one other person, who is also infection free.

If you have sexual contact with someone you don't know (or don't know whether or not they have a herpes infection), you and/or your partner should use a latex condom at all times during sexual activity.

Avoid sexual activity if either partner has a known outbreak of herpes, in the genital area or anywhere else.

If you are pregnant and think you may have genital herpes, ask to be tested for it.

Taking antiviral medications toward the end of your pregnancy can prevent an outbreak around the time of delivery.

If a woman has a herpes outbreak at the time of delivery, her doctor may recommend a cesarean section to reduce the risk of passing the virus to the newborn.

The antiviral medication Acyclovir is specifically recommended for use in pregnant women, because of its positive safety profile.

Antiviral therapy can be one preventive measure, because it reduces the risk of transferring the virus from one person to another.

Condom use is much more effective in preventing male to female transmission; it is not as effective in preventing female to male infections, because herpes ulcers can appear on areas not covered by the male condom.

A female condom may provide greater protection than the male condom because it covers the woman's external genitalia (labia).

If ulcers appear on areas that are not covered by condoms, abstaining from sexual activity until ulcers are fully healed will limit the risk of transmission.

Combining antiviral therapy with condom use significantly reduces the the risk of transmission of the herpes.

Wash your hands frequently if you are having a genital herpes outbreak after using the bathroom or having any contact with blisters or sores. This is especially important for people who are caring for babies.

You can take steps to help keep from getting genital herpes, or any other sexually transmitted infections and you can also take steps to keep from giving herpes to your sex partner(s) by practicing safe sex.

Preventing a sexually transmitted infection (STI) is easier than treating an infection after it occurs.

Talk with your partner about STIs before beginning a sexual relationship. Find out whether he or she is at risk for an STI. Remember that it is quite possible to have an STI without knowing it. Some STIs, such as HIV, can take up to 6 months before they can be detected in the blood.

Avoid sexual contact if you have symptoms of an STI or are being treated for an STI.

Avoid sexual contact with anyone who has symptoms of an STI or who may have been exposed to an STI.

Don't have more than one sexual relationship at a time. Your risk for an STI increases if you have several sex partners.

Be responsible and use condoms and oral barriers.

Using condoms lowers your chances of getting or spreading herpes and other STIs, even if you are already using another birth control method to prevent pregnancy.

Condoms must be in place before the start of sexual contact. Use condoms with a new partner until you are certain that he or she doesn't have an STI. You can use either male condoms or female condoms.

Don't have sex, even with condoms, while you're having herpes symptoms.

Make sure you take the proper dosage of your antiviral medicine. Taking daily valacyclovir, an antiviral medicine, can prevent spread of genital herpes to your sexual partner even when you do not have an active outbreak.

Take care during pregnancy. A woman who gets genital herpes while she is pregnant could pass the infection to her baby during delivery. Herpes can make newborns seriously ill.

Antiviral medicine can be used safely in pregnancy to reduce the risk of an outbreak at the time of delivery. This lower risk, in turn, makes it less likely that delivery by cesarean section will be needed.

Wash your hands frequently if you are having a genital herpes outbreak after using the bathroom or having any contact with blisters or sores. This is especially important for people who are caring for babies.

Herpes Statistics & Facts

50-80% of Americans have oral herpes (HSV-1).

How many people have genital herpes? About one out of five people in the United States has genital herpes. That’s more than 50 million people in the United States who have genital herpes and 85% of people with genital herpes don’t know they have it. That’s 42 million Americans who are unaware they have genital herpes.

About 25% of women have genital herpes. That’s one in four.

About 20% of men have genital herpes. That’s one in five.

A study showed that of infected women, 60% had never had any symptoms or outbreaks.

The average number of outbreaks in those who have them is 4 or 5 outbreaks per year. However, some people only have one or two outbreaks and never experience one again.

Asymptomatic carriers, those without outbreaks, can still spread herpes, though usually half as often as those who have symptoms.

The likelihood of passing genital herpes to a partner is highest during an outbreak (times when a sore is present).

When a person is not experiencing an outbreak, there is a 4-10% chance of transmitting it. (Studies vary).

Genital herpes affects more Black than White Americans: 39.2% of the overall Black population, with 48% of Black women affected.

The largest increasing population is white teenagers.

50-75% of unmarried American women between 45 and 50 have genital herpes.

Oral herpes is the most common herpes infection; genital herpes is the second most common.

Recurrent outbreaks of herpes are sometimes associated with conditions that suppress the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS and cancer.

HSV-1 has been proposed as a possible cause of Alzheimer's disease in people who have a certain type of gene variation that makes the virus particularly damaging to the nervous system.

Before the availability of antiviral medications, 85% of newborns with disseminated HSV infections died by the time they were one year old.

Herpes can also infect the eyes (herpes keratitis) and the central nervous system (CNS). Herpes infections of the CNS can cause serious brain damage (herpes encephalitis).

Worldwide rates of either HSV-1 and/or HSV-2 infection among adults are between 60-90%.

An estimated 536 million people worldwide were infected with HSV-2 in 2003, with the highest rates in sub-Saharan Africa and the lowest rates in western Europe.

Herpes was so common among prostitutes in the 18th century that it was called "a vocational disease of women."

Although the herpes disease has been known for at least 2,000, it was not known to be caused by a virus until the 1940s.

Because of its low toxicity and ease of administration, Acyclovir has become the drug of choice for herpes treatment since it was licensed by the FDA in 1998.

There are herpes support groups in the US and UK that provide information about herpes, message forums and dating websites for people with the infection.

The prevalence of HSV-2 (genital herpes) in people between the ages of 15 and 50 is approximately 16%, with higher rates in women and in the developing world.

Use of antiviral therapy to treat herpes began in the early 1960s with an experimental medication that interfered with viral replication, used primarily in people with potentially fatal or debilitating infections of the brain or eyes.

Routine tests for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or cervical cancer (pap tests) do not screen or test for genital herpes.

HSV does not cause cervical cancer; cervical cancer is caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV).

People with herpes can still donate blood, because the virus does not live in the blood and is transmitted only by direct skin to skin contact.

About 80% of people infected with genital herpes don't know that they have the virus because they have mild or no symptoms.

Because genital herpes can cause sores or breaks in the skin that bleed easily, there is an increased risk of giving or getting HIV if you or your partner has HIV.

According to the CDC, the prevalence of HSV-2 in the US was approximately 3 times greater among non-Hispanic blacks as among non-Hispanic whites during the period 2005-2008.

During this same period, the single group with the highest prevalence of HSV-2 were non-Hispanic blacks aged 30 to 49.

Herpes is common in all regions of the country and in both urban and rural areas; there are no significant differences in prevalence based on geographic location.

The prevalence of herpes among white teens ages 12 to 19 years old in the 1990s was 5 times greater than the prevalence in the 1970s.

According to the CDC, up to 50% of first-episode cases of genital herpes are now caused by herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). However, recurrences of genital herpes, and viral shedding without overt symptoms, are much less frequent with HSV-1 infection than herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). It is important for doctors to determine whether the genital herpes infection is caused by HSV-1 or HSV-2, as the type of herpes infection influences prognosis and treatment recommendations.

Subclinical shedding can be documented in over 80% of HSV2 seropositive individuals who deny subclinical lesions. This suggests that patients shed virus and transmit it even in the absence of clinical signs and that genital herpes should be redefined as a chronic rather than an intermittent disease.

According to studies done by Valtrex, these are the rates of transmission per year of regular sex:

If partners avoid sex during outbreaks: 4% chance transmission from female to male; 8% male to female.

If partners also use condoms or antiviral medication: 2% female to male; 4% per year male to female.

If partners also use condoms and antiviral medications: 1% female to male; 2% male to female.

Herpes Treatment Remedies plus

The contents of this app are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition. The information provided should not be considered as a substitute for the advice of a medical doctor or other healthcare professional.

Pathology (What is Herpes?)

Herpes is a contagious disease caused by the Herpes simplex virus (HSV).

There are two types of Herpes simplex virus (HSV): HSV-1 and HSV-2.

In general, herpes simplex 1 causes infections of the mouth, throat and face, while genital herpes is typically caused by herpes simplex 2.

Herpes appears on the skin as fluid-filled blisters; the blisters contain the infectious virus particles.

Herpes typically spreads from one person to another through direct contact with blisters and/or body fluids.

Herpes infections that involve the mouth are called oral herpes, a condition also known as fever blisters or cold sores.

Herpes Symptoms

First sign of Herpes is a small red bump, with an itchy and tingling feeling.

Herpes develops into small blisters that eventually break open and produce raw, painful sores that scab and heal over within a few weeks.

Symptoms of active herpes include pain or itching, small red bumps or tiny white blisters, ulcers and scabs.

With the initial onset of the infection, some people may have flu-like symptoms, like headache, muscle aches, fever or swollen lymph nodes.

After a person has experienced active symptoms of herpes, the virus may retreat, only to return at a later date. Some people will have many of these recurrences, while others may have fewer.

Herpes Causes

The herpes viruses enter the skin or mucous membrane through tiny, even microscopic, breaks in the tissue.

You can get herpes by skin-to skin contact with the infected area of someone who has active symptoms of herpes.

Because the herpes virus dies quickly when it is not inside the body, it is almost impossible to get the infection through contact with objects used by an infected person, such as toilets or towels.

Genital herpes can also be caused by mouth to genital contact with a person who has cold sores or herpes infection of the mouth.

Outbreaks can be related to the function of the immune system and are typically worse in cases in which the immune system is suppressed; for example, at times of physical or emotional stress, during illness, or when you are taking certain medications.

Herpes Treatment

There is no cure for genital herpes; once a person has the herpes virus, it remains in the body for the rest of their lives.

Your doctor may prescribe antiviral medications. These do not completely destroy the virus, but they may help sores heal more quickly.

Antiviral medications used to treat HSV include acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex).

Antiviral medications may also be helpful with the recurrent outbreaks, to reduce the severity of the symptoms and speed up the healing process.

Over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen can reduce pain and fever associated with HSV infections.

Abreva, an over the counter medication for oral herpes (cold sores), is very effective in speeding up the healing process.

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