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What is the best treatment for herpes?
Prescription antiviral medication can effectively treat symptoms and outbreaks. Although there’s no cure for herpes, they can reduce the number of times an outbreak occurs, lessen the severity of symptoms in recurrent outbreaks, and reduce the chances of passing the infection on to your partner.
If you test positive for herpes, your doctor can put you on an antiviral medication to help manage symptoms and prevent future herpes outbreaks, such as Acyclovir (Zovirax) or Valaciclovir (Valtrex).
Depending on your symptoms, your doctor might recommend a treatment plan that includes taking the medication only when you have symptoms or taking the antiviral medication daily. Most people tolerate these antiviral medications well with few side effects.
Learn About Oral Herpes
The oral herpes virus, known as HSV-1, looks different depending on what stage of herpes infection you have.
Stage 1: Prodrone: As the herpes virus comes in contact with your skin, it may cause a tingling sensation and cause the skin to redden. After 1-2 days, you may feel pain, itchiness, or irritation at the affected area.
Stage 2: Swelling and inflammation â Stage 2 is characterized by inflamed or swollen skin at the affected area.
Stage 3: Formation of blisters: Red, white, or clear blisters or cold sores filled with fluid begin to form. They last about 2 days and appear in a cluster or as a single sore that is sensitive to the touch.
Stage 4: Ulceration: After 1-2 days, the sores may burst, releasing fluid and becoming more painful. This generally disappears after about 1 day.
Stage 5: Scabbing or crusting: The sores begin to heal. A crust may develop over the burst blister that develops into a scab. After 2-3 days, new skin will begin to form underneath the scab.
Stage 6: Healing: That scab that formed over the blister will start to heal. Take care not to peel the scab off until the wound is completely healed to avoid scarring.
Read here to learn more about oral herpes treatment.
Learn About Genital Herpes
Genital herpes (HSV-2) has 4 stages of development.
1: Prodrome Stage: During the beginning stages of genital herpes, the virus progresses to the surface of the skin, which often causes redness, itchiness, tingling, pain, or burning in and around the affected area. With genital herpes, an outbreak occurring inside the labia or urethra may cause painful urination.
2: Blister Stage The blisters stage of genital herpes can be recognized by clusters of small red bumps, which will then fill up with clear to whiteish-yellow fluid. These bumps and blisters can be very sensitive and painful. The skin around the blisters appears red and irritated.
3: Ulcers Stage After the blisters have burst and drained, ulcers (or, open sores) will develop where the blister was. These ulcers first appear like pinkish or reddish wounds, which ooze fluid or in some cases bleed. These open sores are more uncomfortable and painful than the blister stage. Towards the end of the ulcers stage, the ulcers will build up some whiteish-yellow colored fluid, which will harden and form a scab over the sore.
4: Healing Stage: The herpes sore is fully healed when the scab falls off. Sometimes, a scab won’t develop, and the sores will just fade away. This process takes about 3-7 days.
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Herpes Treatment FAQs
What is herpes?
Herpes is a viral infection that can be found on the mouth or the genitals. This infection belongs to a family of over 70 different related viruses. The infection causes small, fluid-filled blisters to form on the skin and mucous membranes.
There are a total of eight herpes simplex viruses that can be contracted by men, women, and children, the most common of which are HSV-1 and HSV-2.
Can you get treatment for herpes online?
Yes, you can get herpes treatment online. You can speak to one of our board-certified doctors today, who will evaluate you for herpes symptoms. If needed, they can order further testing at the lab nearest you.
If you qualify, they can then send a prescription for antiviral medication for herpes to the pharmacy nearest you. Our doctors can also easily fill existing prescriptions for oral and genital herpes and send them to your local pharmacy. Speak to a doctor now to discuss the best treatment options for you.
What are the symptoms of herpes?
In many cases, the symptoms of herpes can be mild or not occur at all. Sometimes, mild symptoms of herpes can resemble a skin condition and be mistaken for something else.
Some symptoms of herpes may include:
-Sores that are painful on the thighs, buttocks, anus, or genitals
-Lumps in the groin area that are tender to the touch
How long do herpes symptoms take to show?
On average, it takes about 4 days after exposure to start showing the symptoms of herpes. The herpes incubation period ranges between 2 and 12 days. The most common early sign of herpes is sores around the genitals or mouth.
The first time you get the herpes virus, it may cause flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, headache, and body aches. Then, subsequent outbreaks may cause sores and less severe symptoms. Generally, the frequency of outbreaks lessens over time.
How long does a herpes outbreak last?
Most cases of herpes take about 2-3 weeks to completely heal. Later, outbreaks are usually less severe and last only a few days. Symptoms and sores lesson over time with each outbreak.
What causes herpes?
Herpes is caused by the transmission of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) by direct contact with an infected person. Someone may be infected with herpes when they catch the virus through sexual contact with another person who already has the infection. It is passed via skin-to-skin transmission with infectious secretions on the mouth, genitals, or buttocks.
HSV-1 is most commonly transmitted by mouth-to-mouth contact. HSV-2, also called genital herpes, is considered a sexually transmitted disease. It is transmitted through oral, anal, or vaginal sex.
You can get herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a sex partner who has oral herpes.
What are the risk factors for herpes?
Some risk factors for herpes may include:
-Having unprotected sex
-Having sex with multiple partners
-Kissing someone with a herpes virus that is active
-Abuse of cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs
-Spreading the virus by touching a cold sore and then touching something else
-Having an autoimmune disorder or illness, such as hepatitis or HIV/AIDS
-Poor eating habits that cause nutritional deficiencies
Is there a way to prevent getting herpes?
You can protect yourself and your partner by taking steps to prevent an outbreak of herpes. Some things that you can do include:
-Always wear condoms or a dental dam during anal, vaginal, and oral sex.
-If you already have herpes, don’t have sex until the outbreak is completely gone, even with a condom.
-Try to learn the signs of an impending outbreak, such as itching, tingling and burning, and stop having sex as soon as you notice.
-If you wear contact lenses, don’t wet your lenses with your saliva. This could spread your herpes infection to your eyes.
-Don’t have sex with your partner until your herpes sores are completely healed.
-Always tell your partner if you are infected with the herpes virus before you have sex. Even though it can be embarrassing and difficult, herpes is very common, and telling your partner will help keep the infection from spreading.
What are the signs of herpes in men?
In about two-thirds of cases, men will have no symptoms of herpes. Symptoms of herpes in men may include:
-Swollen lymph nodes
-Blisters or sores on the penis
Other symptoms that are less common include:
-Blisters or sores inside or on the anus and around the thighs and buttocks
It is unclear if genital herpes affects fertility in men because it affects such a large part of the population. However, a recent study found that herpes may lower the sperm count in men and may have an effect on men’s ability to get pregnant with a partner.
What are the signs of herpes in women?
Like men, women who have HSV-1 or HSV-2 may have no symptoms or signs of the infection. Some women may only have an initial outbreak and no other recurring symptoms. Others may have chronic recurring outbreaks of the herpes virus, and some women may not have an outbreak for months or even years after they have first been infected.
In the first herpes outbreak, symptoms usually start within 2 weeks of contracting the virus. The initial symptoms may include:
-Painful or uncomfortable urination
-Itching or burning in the anal or vaginal area
-Pain in the vagina, buttocks, or legs
After 1-2 days, women may develop painful blisters or sores around the affected area, including:
-On the mouth, vagina, or anus
-Inside the vagina
-Around the buttocks or thighs
-Inside the cervix or urinary tract
Do they test for herpes when pregnant?
Routine screening for herpes in pregnant women is often not recommended, unless the mother has signs and symptoms of herpes. If you are pregnant or plan to be and have symptoms of herpes, it is important to ask your doctor to be tested so that your child is not at risk.
What are the signs of herpes in pregnant women?
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, there may be a risk of your baby being infected with the virus during delivery. This condition is called neonatal herpes and can be serious or fatal.
Neonatal herpes can result in damage to the central nervous system and can cause mental retardation. Only about 0.1% of babies born in the United States are infected with neonatal herpes even though about 25% to 30% of pregnant women have genital herpes.
Generally, if you are infected with herpes, your doctor will deliver your baby by cesarean section to avoid any risk to your newborn infant.
Women who have herpes before becoming pregnant are at very low risk of transmitting the herpes virus to their babies. If a woman is infected with the herpes virus after becoming pregnant, her baby faces a higher risk of contracting neonatal herpes. Women who are newly infected haven’t had time to develop the antibodies against the virus and cannot pass them on to the baby for protection.
Talk with your OB/GYN and let them know if you have genital herpes. At the time of your delivery, ask your doctor to examine you early in labor to make sure you don’t have any sores or signs of infection like pain, tingling, or itching.
What are the signs of herpes in children?
The herpes virus can be spread to babies and children if they are kissed by someone that is infected and has active cold sores. Although rare, it is also possible to spread herpes to a child or infant by touch if a person touches their cold sore and then touches the baby or child.
Precautions can be taken to protect infants and other children from getting the virus. Avoid kissing children if you have a cold sore and ask other people not to as well. Wash your hands frequently if you have a cold sore and you are around children.
Is there a cure for herpes?
No, there is no cure for herpes. Unfortunately, once you are infected with the herpes virus, you will have it throughout your life. On the positive side, there are medications available that are likely to shorten and prevent outbreaks and make it harder for you to pass it on to your partner.
Can herpes go away by itself?
This disease does not cure itself. The blisters may subside on their own, but once you are infected with the herpes virus, it stays with you. Antiviral medications can help prevent future herpes outbreaks and treat symptoms.
Can you get herpes on your tongue?
While you may associate herpes type 1 with cold sores on your lips, it is possible to suffer from the symptoms of herpes on your tongue. This is referred to as oral herpes and usually affects more of your mouth than just your tongue. More than half of all adults in the United States are thought to have oral herpes.
How long does herpes take to cure?
Once you get herpes, it cannot be fully cured. However, it can be treated so that it becomes manageable. Once treated, it usually takes between two to three weeks for herpes symptoms to subside, if treatment is started at the earliest symptoms. Each case of herpes varies from person to person.
What does a single herpes bump look like?
A single herpes bump will be white, yellow, or red-translucent and filled with a clear liquid inside of it.
How long do herpes outbreaks last with medication?
An Initial herpes outbreak will usually last between 2-6 weeks, while recurring herpes outbreaks actually resolve a lot faster and should heal within a few weeks or sooner.
How long after herpes outbreak is it still contagious?
For oral herpes, cold sores are usually contagious for up to 15 days and are generally no longer contagious once all symptoms have cleared, which includes the blister itself and any scabbing.
Someone carrying genital herpes should wait until 7 days after the sore heals to begin engaging in sexual activity, as the herpes virus can spread from sores not covered by a condom.
Telehealth is not appropriate for serious conditions that require immediate attention or emergency care. If you experience any life-threatening issues, call 911 or go to an emergency room immediately.
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