- Can Herpes Be Cured?
- What Is
- Signs and Symptoms
- Complications and Side Effects
Can herpes simplex be cured?
When the topic of herpes arises, you might remember terrible slideshows of sexually transmitted diseases from health class. But herpes doesn’t have to be scary or shameful. The herpes simplex virus is very common, and it’s possible to carry it without having any symptoms. Some people don’t even know they have herpes.
Herpes has no cure. The symptoms come in outbreaks, but the virus lasts forever. Different people have different symptoms and frequencies of outbreaks. With proper management and preventative treatment, the symptoms of herpes can be reduced.
What is the herpes simplex virus?
The herpes simplex virus has two types. HSV-1 is typically associated with oral herpes, also known as cold sores, while HSV-2 typically causes genital herpes. However, either can pass on herpes symptoms to other parts of the body and other people. If you’ve got a cold sore or fever blister, then you’ve got herpes simplex.
Herpes simplex is a contagious virus. Oral herpes affects around half of Americans, and genital herpes affects around one in six Americans. While annoying and painful, herpes simplex typically doesn’t lead to serious health problems.
Signs and symptoms of herpes simplex
Some people can carry herpes and not exhibit symptoms. However, herpes can still be contagious even if you never have an outbreak.
Herpes outbreaks typically involve the following symptoms:
- Itching, burning, or tingling in the affected area
- Blisters on the skin
- Sores in the place of the blisters that crust over and heal
Alongside the cold sores (or fever blisters), flu-like symptoms can manifest, such as fevers, aches, and swollen glands.
Herpes sores can reappear due to stress, irritated skin, poor diet, exhaustion, or a weakened immune system. Other times, they may appear randomly. But after cold sores fade, the virus stays behind, ready to activate again.
Causes of herpes simplex
Herpes is spread through saliva and skin-to-skin contact with someone who carries the virus. People who developed oral herpes when they were younger likely developed it from non-sexual contact through saliva, such as sharing food. Simple acts like kissing, touching infected skin, or sharing everyday objects can spread the virus.
Though contagious, the virus doesn’t live for long once it’s outside the body. Contracting herpes simplex from touching an infected doorknob, toilet seat, or other high-touch surfaces is unlikely.
Most people contract HSV-1 as a child through skin-to-skin contact with an adult carrying the virus. HSV-2 is usually contracted through sexual contact with someone carrying the virus.
Some people are more likely to contract HSV-2 than others:
- People with many sexual partners
- People who had sex at a younger age
- People with another sexually transmitted infection
- People with a weakened immune system
Careful communication and safer sex can prevent the spread of herpes.
Diagnosis for herpes simplex virus
Your physician can diagnose herpes after performing physical exams and administering certain tests. These tests include:
- A viral culture that examines a tissue sample
- A polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that examines blood, sore tissue, or spinal fluid for the presence and type of herpes
- A blood test that checks for the presence of herpes antibodies
Treatments for herpes simplex
There’s no cure for herpes. Sores often clear up on their own, but keeping the affected area clean and using antiviral creams can alleviate pain and irritation during flare-ups. These drugs and creams are most effective when applied as soon as irritation begins, before sores appear. Prompt treatment can shorten the length of the outbreak.
Certain antiviral drugs can shorten the lengths of outbreaks, while others that are taken daily can reduce the frequency of outbreaks and reduce the chance of spreading. Some prescription antiviral medicines are:
Certain measures can be taken to prevent outbreaks, such as wearing sunscreen on the affected area when spending time outside. There are also a few tricks to soothe outbreaks when they initially begin:
- Take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to reduce swelling and relieve pain
- Place a cool cloth on the sores
- Keep the area dry and clean
- Wash your hands and don’t touch the area
- For genital herpes, take lukewarm baths and wear soft, loose clothing to avoid irritation
Possible complications and side effects
Herpes simplex, while not dangerous on its own, can invite a host of other infections. Herpes sores can increase the risk of contracting other sexually transmitted infections. It’s also possible for a newborn to be exposed during the birthing process. Genital herpes can lead to swelling and infections of the urethra.
If you are pregnant and have herpes, tell your doctor. They may want to give you antiviral medicines to prevent an outbreak when you deliver your baby. If an outbreak occurs at the time of delivery, a cesarean section may be suggested to prevent infecting your baby with herpes.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "HERPES SIMPLEX: DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT."
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "HERPES SIMPLEX: OVERVIEW."
American Academy of Dermatology Association: "HERPES SIMPLEX: WHO GETS AND CAUSES."
American Academy of Family Physicians: "Herpes."
Mayo Clinic: "Genital herpes."
Nationwide Children’s Hospital: "Herpes Simplex Virus."
Planned Parenthood: "Oral & Genital Herpes."
Top Can Herpes Simplex Be Cured Related Articles
5 Things You Should Know About HerpesMost 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.
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 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 Herpes and Cold Sores: 10 Myths and FactsGenital herpes and cold sores (oral herpes) are the names given to two types of infection caused by the two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV): HSV-1 and HSV-2.
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.
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 Does Herpes Look Like? Types and TreatmentHerpes is a skin infection caused by herpes simplex virus (HSV). It results in the formation of painful blisters or sores on the skin, typically around the mouth or genitals.
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.