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It's also possible to get a milder form of genital herpes by receiving oral sex from someone who has cold sores, which are caused by a closely related virus. You can also get oral lesions mouth sores from HSV You can reduce your risk of getting herpes with some simple precautions. For starters, avoid having sex with or sharing personal items with anyone who is having an outbreak, since the risk of infection is highest at that time.

If you happen to touch a sore, don't touch anything else and wash the area immediately with soapy water, because that can kill the virus before it infects you.

Genital Herpes

Use a condom at all other times, because some people with herpes can transmit the virus through their skin if the infection is active even when they don't have any sores. Keep in mind that a condom doesn't cover everything; you can still get herpes from uncovered areas. Also, avoid multiple partners, since this increases the risk that you will come in contact with someone who has the virus. Don't assume you can tell whether your partner has herpes, since many people never have obvious symptoms.

Because herpes is at epidemic proportions in the United States, it's safer to assume a new partner may have it and take appropriate steps to protect yourself. Men can go for years or even decades without ever noticing symptoms of an infection, but women tend to experience symptoms within two to 20 days after picking up the virus.

What are Genital Herpes? (Sexually Transmitted Infection)

During the first attack, you may have flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, swollen lymph glands, and muscle aches. You'll also likely notice pain, burning, or tingling around your genitals, thighs, or buttocks, where sores will eventually appear.

Genital Herpes Symptoms

Small red bumps usually follow, which turn into fluid-filled blisters and break open into shallow pinkish sores. These sores can be very tender and painful. In one to three weeks' time, the sores crust up and disappear. Later flare-ups tend to be milder, sometimes so mild that you may not even notice them.

You'll probably have fewer sores, too, and those you have will heal more quickly. Some people have frequent attacks; others have them only rarely. The average is four per year, and that number tends to go down as time goes by. DO NOT use ointment or lotion on sores unless your provider prescribes it.

There are two ways to take it: One way is to take it for about 7 to 10 days only when symptoms occur.

This typically shortens the time it takes for symptoms to clear up. The other is to take it daily to prevent outbreaks. Reducing Outbreaks. Consider taking antiviral medicine daily to keep outbreaks from developing. Things you can do include: Get plenty of sleep. This helps keep your immune system strong. Eat healthy foods. Good nutrition also helps your immune system stay strong.

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Keep stress low. Constant stress can weaken your immune system. Protect yourself from the sun, wind, and extreme cold and heat. Use sunscreen, especially on your lips. On windy, cold, or hot days, stay indoors or take steps to guard against the weather. Preventing the Spread of Herpes. To protect others: Let any sexual partner know that you have herpes before having sex. Allow them to decide what to do. Use latex or polyurethane condoms, and avoid sex during symptomatic outbreaks.

DO NOT have vaginal, anal, or oral sex when you have sores on or near the genitals, anus, or mouth. DO NOT kiss or have oral sex when you have a sore on the lips or inside the mouth. DO NOT share your towels, toothbrush, or lipstick. Make sure dishes and utensils you use are washed well with detergent before others use them.

What is genital herpes?

Wash your hands well with soap and water after touching a sore. Consider using daily antiviral medicine to limit viral shedding and reduce the risk of passing the virus to your partner. You may also want to consider getting your partner tested even if they have never had an outbreak.


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If you both have the herpes virus, there is no risk for transmission. Cold sores are contagious even if you don't see the sores.

Genital herpes

There's no cure for HSV infection, and the blisters may return. Antiviral medications can help cold sores heal more quickly and may reduce how often they return. Signs and symptoms vary, depending on whether this is your first outbreak or a recurrence. They can last several days, and the blisters can take two to four weeks to heal completely.

Recurrences typically appear at the same spot each time and tend to be less severe than the first outbreak. Children under 5 years old may have cold sores inside their mouths and the lesions are commonly mistaken for canker sores. Canker sores involve only the mucous membrane and aren't caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Cold sores are caused by certain strains of the herpes simplex virus HSV. HSV-1 usually causes cold sores. HSV-2 is usually responsible for genital herpes. However, either type can cause sores in the facial area or on the genitals. Most people who are infected with the virus that causes cold sores never develop signs and symptoms.

Cold sores are most contagious when oozing blisters are present. But you can transmit the virus to others even if you don't have blisters. Shared eating utensils, razors and towels, as well as kissing, may spread HSV Once you've had an episode of herpes infection, the virus lies dormant in nerve cells in your skin and may emerge as another cold sore at the same place as before.

Recurrence may be triggered by:. Cold sores on the lips can be embarrassing and tough to hide. But, turns out, you might not have a reason to be embarrassed. Now, a very small percentage of those people will actually develop cold sores. Pritish Tosh, an infectious diseases specialist at Mayo Clinic, says, genetics determines whether a person will develop cold sores. The problem is people can spread the herpes virus whether they develop cold sores or not.

What about diet and herpes (HSV-1 and HSV-2)?

Herpes virus spreads through physical contact like kissing, sharing a toothbrush — even sharing a drinking glass — or through sexual contact. About 90 percent of adults worldwide — even those who've never had symptoms of an infection — test positive for evidence of the virus that causes cold sores. People who have weakened immune systems are at higher risk of complications from the virus. Medical conditions and treatments that increase your risk of complications include:.


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