What is Herpes?
Herpes infections are caused by the herpes virus. There are two types of the herpes virus. Herpes Type 1 is found mainly around the mouth. These infections are called cold sores or fever blisters. Herpes Type 2 is found mainly on the genitals.
There is no cure for herpes so if you are infected, the virus is in your body for the rest of your life. If you do not have open sores, the risk of passing the infection to others is very small.
Some people have outbreaks every month, often around the time of a menstrual period. About one third of the people have one outbreak and never have another. Usually outbreaks decrease over time with few outbreaks after 5 years.
What Are The Symptoms Of Herpes Infections?
Herpes on the genitals can cause intense pain and burning, especially on urination. There can also be itching, prickly pain on and off, a feeling of pressure and vaginal discharge
When you look at your genitals, you may see either blisters, ulcers (after the blisters break open), or a green film over the ulcers. The first outbreak is usually the most painful and lasts the longer, about 10 days. Later outbreaks usually last 4 to 5 days.
You could also have other symptoms of illness like headache, fever, muscle aches, joint pain, feeling sick to your stomach, or just feeling unwell.
Sometimes people do not have any symptoms. This more likely to occur when the sores are on the cervix in females, or inside the urethra in males. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus (womb).
How Do I Know I Have Genital Herpes?
If you suspect herpes, call your health practitioner right away. A herpes infection is confirmed by looking at the sores or by taking a culture from the open sores after the blister has broken.
Sometimes the only way to know if you have herpes inside on your cervix is to have a Pap smear. A Pap smear is when your practitioner scrapes a few cells off your cervix, puts them on a slide, and looks at them under a microscope.
If you do have herpes on your cervix, you will have abnormal Pap smears. You should have repeat Pap smears every 3 to 6 months, as advised by your health practitioner.
If I Think I Was Exposed, How Soon Might I Notice Symptoms?
If you are going to have a herpes outbreak, it is more likely to happen 2 to 7 days after contact, but it could take 20 days or longer.
What Are The Treatments For Herpes?
Although there is no cure, there are many treatments to help shorten the outbreaks and reduce the symptoms.
Internal Natural Treatments
- -L-lysine (not in combination with tryptophan or arginine)
External Natural Treatments
- Ice to the area for at least 15 or 20 minutes. Try it for 1 1/2 to 2 hours if you like. Repeat after at least half an hour without ice.
- Zinc oxide or camphor products applied 3 or 4 times a day. Desitin, Vicks Vap-O-Rub, Blistex, Camphophenique, Caladryl, Zinc Oxide
- Milk, acidophilus milk or yogurt - apply 4 to 6 times a day by soaking cotton balls in the solution and applying for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Anesthetics (numbing agents)
- Black Tea (has tannic acid, which numbs). Apply a wet tea bag to sores 4 times a day.
- Clove Oil. Apply 4 to 6 times a day
- Peppermint Oil. Apply 4 to 6 times a day
- Vitamin E oil, eucalyptus oil, cornstarch, witch hazel, or wheat germ oil. Apply 4 to 6 times a day.
- Aloe Vera, apply 4 to 6 times a day. Apply cornstarch to the area.
- Tub soaks or sitting a pan of water 1 to 4 times. Try hot or cold. You may add baking soda to the water.
Antivirals: There is topical acylovir available but taking pills by mouth works better. Usually doses for recurrent outbreaks are as follows
- Acyclovir (Zovirax) 200 mg every 4 hours for 10 days
- Famciclovir (Famvir) 125 mg every 12 hours for 5 days
- Valacyclovir (Valtrex) 500 mg every 12 hours for 5 days
- Ibprofen 400 to 600 mg every 4 hours
Care of Sores:
- Wash the area with soap and water 3 times a day. Do not use washcloth anywhere else.
- Keep area dry with hair dryer or light (NOT a heat lamp).
- If urination is painful, urinate in a pan of warm water or pour warm water over the genitals as you urinate
- Wear loose cotton underwear or a long skirt with no underwear.
What Can I Do To Help Prevent The Spread Of Herpes?
Do genital self-exam: Look at your external genitals once a month when you do breast self exam. Sometimes a woman can see the blisters or sores on her cervix as she does a cervical self-exam each month. If you have had genital herpes, it would be good to learn cervical self-exam and do it each month.
Use male or female condoms and/or dental dams: If you have a history or herpes, it is a good idea to use condoms or dental dams for protection every time there is genital contact or genital-oral contact. At least use them while you have the sores and ideally for 6 weeks after the sores are healed.
Dental dams are a piece of latex that is laid over the genitals for oral sex. You can make one by cutting the tip off a condom and then cutting it up one side or by using double strength Saran Wrap.
Consider other protective devices: Diaphragms and cervical caps also give some protection against sexually transmitted infections.
What If I Am Pregnant And I Have Herpes?
If you are pregnant and you have an active outbreak of herpes, tell your doctor or midwife. You should have a surgical delivery called a Cesarean section. Otherwise, the baby might get infected with herpes. If it gets a herpes eye infection, there may be a loss of sight.
The health information provided on emmagoldman.com is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Nothing stated by this website or linked pages should be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you have an urgent medical problem call 911 immediately or contact your healthcare provider.