Genital herpes is an STD caused by two types of viruses. The viruses are called herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2.
Genital herpes is common in the western parts of world – US, some countries in Europe and UK. In the United States, about one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes.
The only way to avoid STDs is to not have vaginal, anal, or oral sex. If you are sexually active, you can lower your chances of getting herpes by (1) being in a long-term mutually monogamous relationship with a partner who has been tested and has negative STD test results; (2) using latex condoms the right way. Herpes symptoms can occur in both male and female genital areas that are covered by a latex condom. However, outbreaks can also occur in areas that are not covered by a condom so condoms may not fully protect you from getting herpes.
Most people who have herpes have no, or very mild symptoms. You may not notice mild symptoms or you 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.
Genital 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 weeks 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.
Repeat outbreaks of genital herpes are common, especially during the first year after infection. Repeat outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe than the first outbreak. Although the infection can stay in the body for the rest of your life, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease over a period of years.
You should be examined by your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms or if your partner has an STD or symptoms of an STD, such as an unusual sore, a smelly discharge, burning when urinating, or, for women specifically, bleeding between periods.
You are not alone to suffer from herpes just check last year’s statistics:
|Statistics based on Americans 14-49 years old|
|Over 25 million Americans have genital herpes, that’s 1 out of every 6|
|80% of all Americans have oral herpes|
|Women: 20.9% of women have genital herpes|
|Men: 11.5% of men have genital herpes|
|Blacks: 39.2% of black Americans have genital herpes (48% of black women)|
|Whites: 12.3% of white Americans have genital herpes|
|80% of Americans with genital herpes (HSV-2) are unaware of their infection|
|Up to 50% of new genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-1, mainly through cases of oral sex herpes|
- 1 Herpes Causes, Treatment and Facts
- 1.1 Types of Herpes
- 1.2 What is Genital Herpes?
- 1.3 How Herpes are Confused with Other Conditions?
- 1.4 Genital Herpes Symptoms
- 1.5 What are Food Habits to Reduce Herpes Infection?
- 1.6 How Herpes are Diagnosed?
- 1.7 Herpes Medication
- 1.8 What are Home Remedies for Herpes Treatment?
- 1.9 101 Realities of Herpes
Herpes Causes, Treatment and Facts
Types of Herpes
The herpes family of viruses includes 8 different viruses that affect humans; of these HHV1 (HSV1) & HHV2 (HSV2) are most common.Put simply: herpes type 1 causes sores around the mouth and lips(sometimes called fever blisters or cold sores). HSV-1 can cause genital herpes, but most cases of genital herpes are caused by herpes type 2. InHSV-2, the infected person may have sores around the genitals or rectum.Although HSV-2 sores may occur in other locations, these sores usually are found below the waist.
What is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is highly contagious. If you know you have genital herpes then you really have to be very careful not to pass on the infection. Of course you may not know you have herpes or you may think you no longer have a problem with the condition as you have not had an outbreak for month’s even years. But the fact is unless you know for a fact that you no longer carry the virus you really do need to be careful. Always use a barrier (condom), this will not only protect your partner but also protect you. This information should be adhered to during all sexual activities (including oral).
The symptoms of oral herpes and genital herpes are almost identical & once infected becomes permanent, that is as far as traditional medicine goes. As mentioned above herpes may not be apparent or obvious. The virus attaches itself to either end of the spinal cord and can remain dormant for months, years even a lifetime. The fact that herpes remains dormant in you or perhaps in your partner does not mean that the condition cannot be passed to another person (Shedding).
Herpes may be contagious at any time even without visible signs of an outbreak (estimated at 1-5% of the time). This is symptom is called ―viral shedding. Many still believe and offer advice along the lines of “ You can’t infect anyone with herpes if you are not showing symptoms” (outbreak), This information is wrong, you can pass on herpes at any time, outbreak or not.
A herpes outbreak normally starts with one or a few small blisters. Without treatment, the herpes blisters generally last several days and then form scabs which often turn black indicating the end of the outbreak. Once the blisters have gone the skin will often look a slightly different color for a while.
Herpes blisters (symptoms) can be treated with topical treatments to some degree, however the virus will remain & most of these so called topical treatments are little more than an expensive waste of time. I’ll explain how to get rid of herpes blisters quickly, safely & cheaply in just a while. Forget about all of those expensive herpes relief products.
How Herpes Look Like?
Many people confuse herpes with other conditions, even doctors may not be able to recognize it. However common herpes symptoms tend to be the same wherever they’re located on the body. The main difference lies in the severity of the symptoms. It may cover a larger area and be more acute if it is a first infection of primary infection. Recurrent infections are usually milder.
Herpes often looks like a mosquito bite, small blister or collection of small blisters, sometimes a spot (zit) or a white-head. Herpes sometimes starts with an itch and a rash. The skin can become red and tender.Then swelling may occur until small blisters appear. Sometimes they gather in a larger blister. The blisters can be transparent, whitish, and yellowish or filled with a greenish liquid.
Symptoms may vary from time to time, as will the appearance of the blisters. They may appear in different sizes, shapes or colors or appear in different areas. What is typical about herpes is that herpes blisters usually start to crust and turn back into healthy skin.
How Herpes are Confused with Other Conditions?
Are you absolutely sure you have herpes? That might seem like a stupid question but the fact is there are a number of conditions which are often mistaken for herpes.
For example, Genital herpes is often confused with a yeast infection or Candida (Candidacies). They both cause redness, swelling, itchiness and burning.
The yeast infection called Candidacies, is caused by a small fungus called Candida Alb cans & often causes small blisters. Candidacies are usually found internally or very close to the genitalia.
Syphilis is another sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Syphilis is caused by a bacterium called Treponema palladium. As well as being sexually transmitted it can also be passed from mother to infant during pregnancy (congenital syphilis).
Primary Syphilis first stage symptoms include swollen glands and painless small ulcers usually located near the genital area (much like herpes). If not treated syphilis may move to its second stage and cause a rash covering parts of the body or the entire body.
It usually appears 4 to 10 weeks after the first stage symptoms. Other common symptoms include sore throat, fatigue, headache, and swollen lymph glands, less frequent symptoms include flu like symptoms, weight loss, hair loss, aching joints, or sores in the mouth or genital area.
Syphilis looks the most like genital herpes in its second stage. More generally, syphilis is very often confused with other ailments. It really is important to discount syphilis as early as possible as left untreated, syphilis will move to its third and final stage and damage many organs resulting in mental illness, blindness, deafness, memory loss or other neurological problems, heart disease, even death.
Syphilis may often look like herpes but it is in fact quite different. Herpes is a virus where as Syphilis is a bacterial infection which can be treated easily with penicillin or other antibiotics.
Note:Untreated syphilis can be fatal, so please make sure that you do not have it!
Impetigo mainly affects the face, especially around the nose and mouth and on the hands. Impetigo is mostly associated with children & adolescents but it can also affect adults in the genital area.
It is a common but highly contagious bacterial skin infection. It is caused by either streptococcus A or staphylococcus aurous.
Streptococcus A usually produces redness, blisters or sores and forms a yellowish brown crust. Staphylococcus aurous tends to trigger larger fluidfilled blisters that don’t usually burst. The disease is highly contagious, and scratching or touching the sores is likely to spread the infection to other parts of the body as well as to other people.
Atopic dermatitis is often referred to as eczema. But eczema has broader meaning than atopic dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is not contagious. Several people of the same family are often affected ATP. Exact causes of atopic dermatitis are not exactly known and consist in a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors.
Even though symptoms may differ in different people, most people have acute flares with inflamed, red, sometimes blistered and weepy patches that recur from time to time or that can become chronic.
Other types of eczema include allergic contact eczema, neurodermatitis, seborrhoea eczema and nummular eczema. Most of them have some symptoms in common with genital herpes, like itchiness, redness and burning even blisters.
There are of course many other conditions which are easily mistaken as herpes such as numerous insect bites, skin allergies, nettle rash, etc.
Genital Herpes Symptoms
Typically genital herpes symptoms will last anywhere from 2-10 days. During the early stages of an outbreak, there are several genital herpes symptoms to look out for.
Signs of Genital Herpes May Include
Early symptoms may include Itching, tingling or burning sensations in the genital or anal area. These symptoms are usually a good indication that an outbreak has started, you may already be aware of this. You could also experience early genital herpes symptoms that most people would not recognize unless they were looking specifically for genital herpes symptoms.
Symptoms may include pain in the buttocks, legs, or genital area, feeling of pressure on the abdominal area, and a vaginal fluid discharge. Often the pain is described as a tingling sensation. This particular genital herpes symptom has been described best as feeling raw or similar to a sunburn type sensation.
After a few days, the most common genital herpes symptom of tiny sores will begin to appear in the genital area. They can also appear in the urinary passage of both women and men, and inside the vagina. At first, they appear to be small, red bumps; they later develop into painful open lesions. The tiny sores or blisters will typically last 10-14 days in initial outbreaks and 2-5 days in recurring outbreaks.
The sores will eventually crust over and then finally disappear. Herpes sores generally do not leave a scar. Other genital herpes symptoms that occur with the first outbreak and in a small percentage of recurring outbreaks are painful urination, vaginal discharge, swollen groin glands, headaches, fever, and muscle aches.
What are Food Habits to Reduce Herpes Infection?
A diet that avoids argentine-rich foods while promoting lysine-rich foods has been proven to be quite effective in reducing herpes outbreaks.
Food lists are as follows:
Good Foods (Especially during active cases of Herpes / Outbreaks)
- Dairy products if not allergic to them (Cheese, Yoghurt, Cottage Cheese, Sour Cream, Milk)
- All Fish & Seafood
- Organ Meats
- Brewer’s Yeast
Foods to be Eaten with Caution during Herpes Infection
These foods must be balanced with L-Lysine and foods in the first group when herpes is inactive. During active herpes, these foods should be avoided.
- Whole grain products (Cereals, Bread, Pasta, Pancakes, Lentils,Barley and other Grains.
- Peas & Beans
- Chick Peas
- Foods containing seeds (Eggplant, Tomato, Squash)
- Fruits and Berries, which contain seeds, may be eaten.
- Citrus Fruits (may irritate canker sores)
- Foods high in lysine include most vegetables, legumes, fish, turkey, and chicken.
Foods to Always Avoid in Herpes
- Peanuts and Peanut Butter
- Processed/ pre-packed foods
- Cakes and Sweets
- Coffee & Tea
- Nuts (Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Cashews, Filberts, Pecans, Walnuts)
- Seed Meal (Taine, Sesame Butter)
- Sunflower Seeds
- Bleached White Flour Foods
How Herpes are Diagnosed?
How is genital herpes diagnosed?
The sores of genital herpes in its active stage are usually visible to the naked eye. However, to distinguish herpes sores from other infections your doctor may remove a sample (culture) and send it for analysis.
A blood test can detect antibodies to the virus, which indicate that the person has at some time been infected with HSV, but it cannot determine whether a person has an active genital herpes infection. Blood tests are the most commonly used methods of diagnosis, why? because they are quick and cheap.
Avoid Cross Contamination
During an active herpes episode, whether primary or recurrent, it is important to follow a few simple steps to avoid spreading the infection to other areas of the body or to other people. Herpes is easily spread by simple skin contact.
- Keep the infected area clean and dry to prevent secondary infection from developing.
- Try to avoid touching the sores; wash your hands with soap and water after contact with the sores. Carrying an Antibacterial hand cleanse solution is also advised.
- Avoid sexual contact from the time symptoms are first recognized until the sores are completely healed, that is, until scabs have fallen off and new skin has formed over the site of the lesion.
Even while using a barrier such as a condom, you still run the risk of either spreading the infection to another area of your body of passing herpes to your partner.
Antiviral medicines are the most common treatment prescribed to treat herpes. Products may include: Acyclovir (Overtax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex)
They work by stopping the herpes virus from multiplying. They do not clear the virus from the body. If an antiviral medicine is started early in an episode of symptoms, it tends to reduce the severity and duration of symptoms during an episode of genital herpes.
If you are diagnosed with genital herpes & suffer with recurring outbreaks your doctor may prescribe antiviral medicine to be used every day. This will also be the case if you have an impaired immune system, while this works for some people it is not really the answer.
There is also the issue of complications developing after long term use which is something I became very aware of, hence the reason for needing to find alternative herpes treatment.
Topical Herpes Treatments
The topical form of acyclovir (Zovirax) is available, however it offers little benefit in the treatment of genital herpes & is predominantly used for treating cold sores (Oral HSV1).
If you’re anything like me then you may have fallen foul of one or two products which claim to cure herpes but don’t actually work at all, plus they are expensive.
Herpes home remedies includes applying ice packs on affected area, using apple cider vinegar, using hydrogen peroxide, applying garlic, consuming and applying lemon balm, using licorice root, consuming peppermint tea, using tea tree oil, consuming coconut oil, using aloe vera, and changing your diet.
Oral herpes is often transferred through the infected saliva of the individual which might be transmitted through eating or drinking from the same utensils, sharing personal items, or through physical contact such as a kiss. An infection anywhere on the face including your mouth, lips or any other facial part might cause it to transmit to another person. Herpes in reproductive organs is caused by unprotected sex organs and is manifested through ulcers or genital sores. In the initial stages of the infection, the symptoms might also be accompanied by fever.
When the initial outbreak subsides, the virus rests in the nervous system and might attack again bringing the onset of other illnesses, compromise your immune system or cause erratic hormonal changes.
Not many people are aware, but herpes can be treated with several home remedies as well. If these remedies fail to treat the symptoms adequately, the severity of the condition can at least be lessened to a greater extent.
What are Home Remedies for Herpes Treatment?
1. Ice Packs
Take an ice cube and carefully wrap it in a piece of cloth or towel. Now rub the affected area with this icepack and watch the discomfort, pain, and uneasiness go away. Keep the ice on the affected area for at least 10 minutes, and you will start to notice the results after a few days.
2. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple Cider Vinegar is renowned for its disinfectant, anti-inflammatory, and astringent properties. You can use a cotton ball, just dip in a small bowl of apple cider and apply it on the affected area. You might experience a tingling sensation because of the acidic nature of vinegar. Consuming apple cider vinegar mixed with water during flare-ups might also prove to be helpful.
3. Hydrogen Peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a disinfectant and one of the most favorite home remedies for herpes. It can either be used by crushing a lysine tablet or applied through a cotton ball on the affected area. Mixing it in water and using it as mouthwash is an ideal remedy for oral sores. Repeat the process several times a day and continue doing it for several weeks or until cured.
A chemical present in garlic called allicin is research backed to have antiviral effects. Furthermore, garlic has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties which are quite beneficial in reducing the impact of inflammation caused herpes. Rub garlic clove or some garlic oil over affected areas for about 10 to 15 minutes and repeat the procedure for several days. Garlic oil can be made by cooking garlic cloves in olive oil until the cloves are brown. Then take the cloves out and use the oil left.
5. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm is enriched with a compound called eugenol, which is famous for its pain relieving, antibacterial and antiviral properties. You can also make some lemon balm tea twice or thrice a day or you can even apply the lemon balm teabag or oil on the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes for over a week. Do this and watch the symptoms subside. Avoid consuming lemon balm tea though if you have high blood pressure.
6. Licorice Root
Licorice root is renowned for strengthening the immune system and fighting off herpes. A specific component recently discovered in licorice root called glycyrrhizin is said to have anti-inflammatory and antiviral benefits. Make a paste by mixing one tablespoon of licorice root powder and half a tablespoon of water and apply it onto affected areas. Repeat the procedure for at least three or four times a day and keep repeating it until the blisters are completely gone.
7. Peppermint Tea
Peppermint Tea soothes inflammation and eases the pain caused by herpes. Peppermint oil also contains a specific virucidal compound that helps fight herpes virus. You can consume peppermint tea twice or thrice a day and simultaneously dip a cotton ball in peppermint oil and apply it on the affected areas. This can provide you double protection, both inside-out from inflammation and discomfort caused by herpes.
8. Tea Tree Oil
With its pain-relieving, antibacterial and antiherpetic properties, tea tree oil can prove to be a highly effective remedy for inflammation caused by herpes. The terpenes, phenylpropanoids and antiviral properties in tea tree oil act as antiviral agents against the infection. You can add equal amounts of peppermint oil, geranium, and myrrh essential oils and apply the mixture through a cotton ball onto herpes affected parts.
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil contains copious amounts of capric acid and lauric acid which has shown to be highly effective in killing the herpes virus. Try to consume 3 tbsp of virgin coconut oil twice or thrice a day and watch the symptoms of herpes fade.
10. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is also a great source of treatment for herpes caused by simplex-2 since it heals sores and lesions and helps relieve inflammation and pain to a great extent. Directly apply aloe gel extracted from the plant or apply some aloe vera cream. Either way let the aloe dry on its own and wipe it off with a cloth dipped in lukewarm water.
101 Realities of Herpes
1. Genital herpes is caused by two forms of the herpes simplex viruses: HSV-1 or HSV-2.
2. Most oral herpes is caused by HSV-1, and most genital herpes is caused by HSV-2.
3. Most people do not show signs or symptoms from HSV-1 or HSV-2 infection.
4. At least 20% of U. S. adolescents and adults (people of ages 12 and older), have had genital herpes.
5. Genital HSV-2 infection is more common in women (approximately one out of four women) than in men (almost one out of eight).
6. Both herpes Type 1 and 2 can be transmitted by contact with the sores that the herpes viruses cause, but also between outbreaks (sometimes called OBs) via “shedding” from skin that does not have a sore on it.
7. Herpes transmission frequently occurs from an infected partner who does not have a visible sore, and may not even know that he or she is infected with the virus.
8. Genital OBs of HSV-1 recur less frequently than genital outbreaks caused by HSV-2.
9. First symptoms of genital herpes, they can be quite intense. Subsequent OBs are more mild. Symptoms can include:
10. small area of redness, sometimes with raised bumps or fluid-filled blisters;
11. Itching, burning or tingling in the genital area;
12. Flu-like symptoms (headache, swollen glands, fever);
13. Painful urination and/or discharge.
14. Initial herpes outbreak usually occurs within two weeks after the virus is transmitted, and the sores usually heal within two to four weeks.
15. Sometimes, a person does not become aware of the infection until years after it is acquired.
16. Do not squeeze OB blisters because that may cause infection to spread.
17. Genital herpes infection can be more severe in people with immune systems depressed due to other causes.
18. Genital herpes can cause psychological distress in people who know they are infected, due particularly to the attached social stigma.
19. Any area in the groin can be affected by genital herpes.
20. Herpes is not the only infection that causes genital sores. Bacterial infections have also been known to cause sores that resemble herpes sores. So, it’s best to get tested.
21. Genital herpes can lead to potentially fatal infections in babies.
22. Genital herpes can sometimes be diagnosed by visual inspection of the outbreak, or by taking an actual sample from a sore.
23. The only sure way to avoid getting herpes and other STDs is abstinence, or a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with someone who is not infected.
24. If you inform your partner of your herpes, you can discuss it instead of making excuses as to why you don’t want to have sex.
25. Genital herpes caused by HSV-2 carries an 80-90% chance of OBs.
26. Genital herpes caused by HSV-1 carries a 50% chance of OBs.
27. OB sores can occur in areas that are not covered by a latex condom, so condoms are not fool-proof in protecting from contracting genital herpes.
28. Even if a person does not have any symptoms he or she can still infect sex partners.
29. You can’t get herpes from swimming pools, towels or toilet seats.
30. Frequency and severity of herpes OBs vary between individuals.
31. The most common symptom of genital herpes is one or more sores or blisters that appear on the genitals, anus, buttocks.
32. Some things thought to trigger Obs are:
35. other illnesses;
37. and extreme weather exposure.
38. OBs are most common in the first year after infection with herpes.
39. Oftentimes signs like tingling, itching, numbness or tenderness where the sores will appear occur a few days before an OB.
40. Genital herpes can be well managed with medication, stress management and healthy eating.
41. Genital herpes infections almost never cause long-term damage in healthy adults.
42. Research has shown that genital herpes does not cause cervical or any other types of cancers.
43. With proper treatment and open communication, most people with herpes find they can have normal, healthy, enjoyable relationships.
44. Symptoms of the herpes virus can be similar to symptoms of other diseases, so the best way to be sure whether you have it to get tested.
45. For immediate relief from an OB:
46. You can take warm baths or hold ice packs on the sores for several minutes.
47. You can wear loose cotton clothes to prevent chafing.
48. Keep the area dry with baby powder or cornstarch.
49. You can take aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen to relieve pain and fever.
50. Women who get herpes before becoming pregnant have a low risk of passing the virus to the baby.
51. Risk of infant herpes increases if mother gets herpes during final trimester of pregnancy.
52. A genital herpes diagnosis in a long-term, monogamous relationship does not mean a partner was unfaithful.
53. Herpes can be transmitted through oral sex.
54. There is no absolute cure for the herpes infection at this time.
55. If you have genital herpes, avoid (or reduce) activities that may affect OBs, like:
56. poor diet;
58. emotional or physical stress;
59. lack of sleep;
60. excess alcohol;
61. and surgical trauma.
62. Excessive friction during intercourse may trigger OBs.
63. Genital herpes does not mean that your sex life is over.
64. Approximately 70% of genital herpes cases result from asymptomatic shedding, when no signs or symptoms exist.
65. It’s been reported that people who tell their partners of their diagnosis are rarely rejected.
66. Herpes has not been found to affect fertility or ability to have children.
67. Research suggests that when someone has both HIV and HSV, the HIV virus may be increased in genital secretions, increasing the risk of HIV transmission to sexual partners.
68. Cold sores and canker sores are not related, though people mistake the two.
69. Cold sores are contagious.
70. Canker sores are not contagious.
71. Cold sores appear around the mouth and symptoms include:
72. tiny, fluid-filled blisters or sores around the mouth, surrounded by red (inflamed) skin;
73. days before appearance of blisters soreness or tingling around mouth area;
74. and, discomfort and appearance of blisters generally last between 7 and 10 days.
75. Cold sores can sometimes be found on nostrils, chin or fingers.
76. Oral herpes OB can occur from contact with someone who has an active lesion through activities like sharing eating utensils, razors and towels.
77. Cold sores typically heal without medicine. But, you may want to seek medical attention if:
78. the blisters don’t go away within one to two weeks;
79. you have a pre-existing health condition that has put your immune system at risk;
80. symptoms are severe;
81. you have frequent outbreaks;
82. or if eye irritation occurs.
83. Some people are at greater risk of contracting cold sores and should be avoided, including:
85. people with eczema;
86. or people with a suppressed immune system caused by cancer, AIDS or an organ transplant.
87. If herpes infects the eye, it can cause corneal scarring — one of the major causes of blindness in the U. S.
88. Expectant mothers must alert their physician if either she or her partner has genital herpes.
89. To protect yourself and your partner from contracting oral herpes and to avoid spreading it to other body parts:
90. don’t kiss or have skin contact with infected persons during an OB;
91. don’t share items like eating utensils, towels, lip balm;
92. during OBs, wash your hands carefully and regularly;
93. use caution when touching other body parts, especially eyes and genitals;
94. avoid stressful situations, like cold or flu, lack of sleep or prolonged sun exposure without sunblock;
95. and, use sunblock on lips and face prior to prolonged sun exposure- in winter and summer.
96. In some cases, the decision to not use condoms may be agreed upon in a relationship where both partners understand the risks of contracting genital herpes.
97. Because of society’s negative misconceptions about genital herpes, you should prepare yourself before approaching others about the topic.
98. Discuss your genital herpes with a partner when you are not ‘in the mood’ for sex, when you’re feeling confident, and when you can pay full attention to the conversation.
99. Anywhere you feel safe and comfortable is a good place to talk about herpes with a partner.
100. Discussing genital herpes may strengthen your relationship and bring you closer together as a couple.
101. Some people find that seeking counseling helps them cope with their diagnosis.