The five important things that a person should know about herpes are as follows:
- It is estimated that one out of six people have genital herpes. About 90% of them don’t have any symptoms.
- Herpes is a very manageable skin condition and does not cause any damage to the internal organs.
- Herpes (oral and genital) cannot be spread through inanimate objects such as spoons, glasses, razors, towels, bed sheets, etc. Herpes can only be passed through direct skin-to-skin contact with the infected area such as kissing, oral sex, genital-to-genital rubbing, vaginal sex, and anal sex.
- Herpes (oral and genital) can be spread even when there are no symptoms or sores. This is called asymptomatic shedding. Suppressive antiviral therapy significantly reduces asymptomatic shedding (and outbreaks). Valacyclovir taken daily can reduce risk of transmission to a partner by as much as 50%.
- Using a condom does not ensure a 100% protection from herpes infection to the partner.
What is herpes?
There are two types of HSV:
- HSV-1 causes oral herpes, which usually affects the mouth and surrounding skin.
- HSV-2 causes genital herpes, which is usually sexually transmitted. Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) that any sexually active person can get. Most people with the virus don’t have symptoms. Even without signs of the disease, herpes can spread to sexual partners.
Is there a link between genital herpes and oral herpes?
Oral herpes caused by herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) can be spread from the mouth to genitals through oral sex. Therefore, some cases of genital herpes are caused by HSV-1.
How do I know if I have genital herpes?
Most people who have genital herpes have no symptoms or have very mild symptoms. Patients may not notice mild symptoms or may mistake them for another skin condition, such as a pimple or ingrown hair. Because of this, most people who have herpes do not know it. Patients must visit a doctor if they notice any of these symptoms:
- Unusual sore
- Smelly genital discharge
- Burning when urinating
- Abnormal bleeding between periods
Herpes sores usually appear as one or more blisters on or around the genitals, rectum, or mouth. The blisters break and leave painful sores that may take a week or more to heal. These symptoms are sometimes called “having an outbreak.” The first time someone has an outbreak, they may also have flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches, or swollen glands.
People who experience an initial outbreak of herpes can have repeated outbreaks, especially if they are infected with herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2). Repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although the infection stays in the body for the rest of your life, the number of outbreaks may decrease over time.
Does a negative culture test mean that a patient does not have herpes?
One of the biggest problems in diagnosing genital herpes is test sensitivity. There are numerous reasons why cultures can be negative; one being that the disease may be caused by something other than herpes. Cultures also can test negative if the samples are not taken in an appropriate manner if there is a long transport time between the clinic and laboratory or if the cultures were taken late in the course of the lesions or sores. Lesions or sores that occur early during a herpes outbreak are much more likely to have positive cultures than cultures taken after the lesions crust are over.
Can herpes be cured?
There is no cure for herpes. However, there are medicines that can prevent or shorten outbreaks. Anti-herpes medicines such as Valacyclovir can be taken daily, which can reduce the spread of infection. Suppressive therapy can provide coverage for individuals who have frequent outbreaks. During therapy, an individual with frequent outbreaks takes a small dose of anti-herpes medication every day. It has been proven that suppressive therapy can reduce the number of outbreaks by over 90%. Patients have taken suppressive therapy for long periods of time, but in most cases, patients can be weaned from it.
Is herpes infection related to HIV?
Herpes and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are caused by different viruses; however, patients infected with these viruses are more likely to transmit either disease to their sexual partners. Patients with herpes are more susceptible to acquiring HIV. Individuals newly diagnosed with herpes should be tested for HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
Genital Herpes - CDC Fact Sheet: (https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm)
Five Things You Should Know about Herpes: (https://www.ashasexualhealth.org/five-things-you-should-know-about-herpes/).
Top 5 Things You Should Know About Herpes Related Articles
Are Cold Sores the Same as Herpes?What is the difference between cold sores and herpes? Cold sores are painful, unsightly sores that usually pop up around your mouth. Certain medications, home care and alternative therapies may help you get rid of cold sores fast.
Can Genital Warts Be Mistaken for Herpes?What is the Difference between genital warts and herpes, and, can genital warts be mistaken for herpes?
Can I Get HIV From Surfaces?Studies proved that HIV cannot be transmitted through surfaces such as toilet seats, chairs, doorknobs, drinking glasses and bedsheets. The virus cannot survive outside a human host; hence, transmission through air, water (swimming pools), insect bite or casual contacts such as handshake, hug or touch is not possible.
Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
Genital HerpesWhat's going on down there? WebMD shows you pictures of genital herpes symptoms and treatments -- and how to avoid getting the virus in the first place.
What Is Genital Herpes in Women?Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Symptoms of genital herpes include painful blisters and often fever, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes for the first outbreak. Genital herpes is diagnosed with lab tests to test for the presence of the virus. Treatment for genital herpes includes antiviral medications to shorten the duration of the outbreak or reduce the risk of future outbreaks. There is no cure for genital herpes. Condoms may help prevent the spread of genital herpes.
Genital Herpes QuizWhat is genital herpes? Learn the causes, symptoms in men and women, and treatments for this common sexually transmitted skin disease.
Eye Herpes (Ocular Herpes)Herpes of the eye occurs due to herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1). Symptoms of herpes of the eye include pain in and around the eye, rash or sores on the eyelids, redness, swelling, and cloudiness of the cornea.
Cold Sores (Oral Herpes, Herpes Labialis)Cold sores (labial herpes) are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 infection and often appear on the mouth and lips. Read about treatment causes, symptoms, treatment, and diagnosis of oral herpes.
Herpes Simplex Virus Type Picture 1A herpes virus that causes cold sores and fever blisters in and around the mouth. See a picture of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and learn more about the health topic.
Is It Possible to Cure Herpes?Most of us will likely have to deal with herpes at some point. Learn more about herpes and what you can do to treat it. Genital herpes is a type of sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV2) which causes lesions in the genital area. Learn how it spreads, symptoms, prevention, and how it can be treated.
What Do Herpes Sores Look Like at Different Stages?Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) are the two types of herpes virus and will look different as they develop during five stages.
What Triggers Herpes?Once a person is infected with herpes, the virus may stay dormant or quiet within the nerves. It is not known what exactly may trigger the symptoms.