Herpes Treatment During Pregnancy
If you develop a herpes rash during your pregnancy, talk with your obstetrician right away. Its possible that the virus can affect an unborn baby. It may also be transferred to the newborn during childbirth. See your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms, to have a physical exam, and discuss treatment options.
To soothe an outbreak of genital herpes, take your prescribed medication and try sitting in a warm bath. Applying ice to a herpes rash on the face may provide some relief as well. To help prevent outbreaks, take steps to avoid the triggers that lead to one, such as a sunburn or extreme stress.
Also, you dont want to kiss a baby if you have a cold sore because it could lead to a serious infection in the baby early in life.
How Can You Prevent Herpes Breakouts
Staying in good general health can help prevent recurrent herpes outbreaks. If you have genital herpes, it is a good idea to boost your immune system with a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables. Antiviral medications such as valacyclovir are very effective in the prevention of herpes outbreaks. Antiviral medications can decrease the number of outbreaks, lessen the severity of symptoms, and reduce healing time.
Recurrent herpes outbreaks tend to occur when the immune system is weakened, such as during stress or illness. Both physical stress and mental stress can trigger an outbreak. Everyone has different triggers for genital herpes.
When To Call The Doctor
Even though HSV sores can hurt and be unsightly, most cases of herpes do not cause serious illness. The sores go away in a few days. Contact the health provider if:
- Sores are present and you think it might be a first herpes infection. The diagnosis is usually made by examining the sores. If the sores have not healed, sometimes a laboratory test is done.
- Sores do not heal by themselves or show signs of infection such as pus, spreading redness or fever.
- Sores are near the eyes.
- You have another health condition with a weakened immune system.
What Can I Do If I Have Herpes
Many people who find out they have herpes feel depressed knowing they will always have the virus and can give it to others. But you arent alone. Herpes is one of the most common STIs, both in the U.S. and worldwide. If you have herpes, you should:
- Learn all you can about it. Information will help you to manage your disease and feel better about yourself.
- Talk about your illness with your doctor.
If you have herpes, you can still:
- Have sex if you use a condom , and you tell your partner about your illness. Some couples, who have sexual relations only with each other, may choose not to use condoms even though one partner has herpes. Because each situation is different, you should ask your doctor if this is the right choice for you in your relationship.
- Have children. People with herpes can still give birth to healthy babies. If you have herpes and plan to have children, discuss your illness with your healthcare provider.
If you have herpes, you should also get checked for HIV and other STIs .
Living With Genital Herpes
If you have genital herpes, it is important to always use condoms and dental dams when having sex, even when you have no symptoms. A dental dam is a square of thin latex that can be placed over the vulva or anal area during oral sex. It is safest to avoid sex when you have blisters, sores or symptoms.
It is also important to tell your sexual partners that you have genital herpes. Your doctor can help you decide who to tell and how to tell them.
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When Should I See My Doctor
You may need to see a doctor if you have more severe symptoms or a weakened immune system if, for example, you have HIV or you are having cancer treatment.
Its also a good idea to see your doctor if:
- there are signs the cold sore is infected, such as redness around the sore, pus and a fever
- you arent sure you have a cold sore
- the cold sore isnt healing, it’s spreading or you have more than one cold sore
- your cold sore has spread to near your eyes
- you get cold sores often
Antibiotics may be needed if the cold sore gets infected.
Differences Between Oral And Genital Herpes Outbreaks
The location of the sores is the main difference between the two types of herpes. Oral herpes sores generally develop on the mouth and lips, usually at the border of the lip where it meets the skin of the face.
Genital herpes sores can occur in a wider variety of locations depending on where the virus entered the body. These locations may include:
- For women and men:
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Why Genital Herpes Comes Back
Genital herpes is caused by a virus called herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, it stays in your body.
It will not spread in your body to cause blisters elsewhere. It stays in a nearby nerve and causes blisters in the same area.
If you can, avoid things that trigger your symptoms.
Triggers can include:
- surgery on your genital area
- a weakened immune system for example, from having chemotherapy for cancer
Herpes Zoster Vs Herpes Simplex
Herpes zoster is another name for shingles. It’s a viral infection that usually appears as a painful red skin rash and can cause nerve damage and longer-term burning and pain if left untreated. It occurs as a result of the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox, according to the Mayo Clinic. The first time you’re infected with the virus, it presents as chicken pox on subsequent reactivations, it’s considered herpes zoster or shingles , even though it’s the same virus.
The HZ/shingles rash can develop anytime after you’ve been previously exposed to the virus. If you were born prior to the advent of the chickenpox vaccine in 1995, you may have had it as a child, and the virus is now lying dormant in your system – meaning, it can “reactivate” at any time, and result in HZ/shingles symptoms. If you’re vaccinated against chickenpox – and more than 90 percent of U.S. children are currently, according to National Immunization Survey data – you can still get shingles later on in life, since the chickenpox vaccine contains small, weakened amounts of the varicella virus. That said, it’s not super common, as Anne A. Gershon, a professor of pediatric infectious disease at Columbia University, explained to Scientific American. “The virus has been altered so the vaccine rarely causes symptoms, but once you’ve been immunized and after the natural infection, you carry the virus in your neurons for the rest of your life,” she said.
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How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Genital herpes doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with herpes genitalis should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
Genital Herpes Hiv And Sexual Health
Genital herpes is one of the most common co-infections for people living with HIV and can be a more serious condition if youre HIV positive meaning that outbreaks may last longer and blisters can be more severe. If youre having recurrent outbreaks of genital herpes, you should have an HIV test, as this may be a sign of a weakened immune system caused by HIV.
Having an STI such as genital herpes can increase your risk of getting and passing on HIV, as the blisters and sores provide an easy way for HIV to get into your body and cause an infection. People living with HIV who arent on treatment or who have a lower CD4 count are especially vulnerable to other infections, like herpes.
If youre taking antiretroviral treatment for HIV, its important to discuss with your doctor how treatment for herpes may interact with your HIV drugs.
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Herpes And Newborn Infants
Herpes infection in a newborn can cause a range of symptoms, including skin rash, fevers, mouth sores, and eye infections. If left untreated, neonatal herpes is a very serious and even life-threatening condition. Neonatal herpes can spread to the brain and central nervous system, causing encephalitis and meningitis. It also can lead to intellectual disability, cerebral palsy, and death. Herpes can also spread to internal organs, such as the liver and lungs.
Infants infected with herpes are treated with acyclovir, an antiviral drug. They usually receive several weeks of intravenous acyclovir treatment, often followed by several months of oral acyclovir. It is important to treat babies quickly, before the infection spreads to the brain and other organs.
Reducing The Risk Of Genital Herpes
The best way to prevent all sexually transmitted infections is to practice safer sex. This means using a condom for vaginal, anal or oral sex.
Using condoms has been shown to half the risk of passing on herpes.
If your partner has herpes, avoiding sex when they have visible sores reduces your risk of getting herpes.
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Genital Herpes Treatment In Pregnancy
You may be offered antiviral treatment:
- to treat outbreaks in pregnancy
- from 36 weeks to reduce the chance of an outbreak during birth
- from diagnosis until the birth if you first get herpes after 28 weeks of pregnancy
Many women with genital herpes have a vaginal delivery. You may be offered a caesarean, depending on your circumstances.
How Do You Get Genital Herpes
Herpes is most infectious when you have blisters, but the virus can be passed on even when someone has no symptoms .
Herpes is passed on through skin-to-skin contact, including vaginal, anal or oral sex without a condom or dental dam. This means the virus can be passed on even if you dont have penetrative sex, orgasm or ejaculate .
Herpes can be passed on by sharing sex toys that aren’t washed or covered with a new condom each time they are used.
If you have genital herpes while pregnant you can pass the virus on to your unborn baby. Speak to your healthcare provider if youre pregnant and worried you might have herpes.
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How Is Genital Herpes Spread
You can get genital herpes by having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has the disease.
If you do not have herpes, you can get infected if you come into contact with the herpes virus in:
- A herpes sore
- Saliva or genital secretions
- Skin in the oral area if your partner has an oral herpes infection, or skin in the genital area if your partner has a genital herpes infection.
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. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a sex partner who has oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels. If you have additional questions about how herpes is spread, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from the herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any needed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms, including dental dams during oral sex.
- Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.
- If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:
- Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off.
Sex And Physical Irritation
Friction from intercourse can irritate tissue and trigger a herpes outbreak.
Obviously, that doesnt mean to avoid having sex forever or that youll break out if you do.
But it does mean if youre having early warning signs that an outbreak is coming on, like sensitivity or tingling, then wait for them to pass.
They may be prodrome symptoms that signal contagiousness and an impending outbreak. And making them worse might encourage the outbreak to happen.
So since sex can sometimes trigger outbreaks, just be careful to minimize irritation. Try using a water-based lubricant. However, lubricants that contain the spermicide nonoxynol-9 can irritate soft tissue of the vaginal walls.
Other physical irritations can cause herpes outbreaks:
Is Herpes Actually A Risk Of The Covid
Okay, so what does this all have to do with the COVID vaccine? The long and short of it is nothing, really, unless you’ve already been infected with any of the herpes viruses – and even more so if you’re immunocompromised, as well.
Both types of herpes viruses discussed here are known to be triggered during times of stress. As with all vaccines, the COVID vaccine causes an immune response – which is essentially a stress response – since your body is coping with and building a defense against invaders. The vaccination could be enough to prompt a reaction or outbreak in people who already have the herpes virus – and it seems to be more of a risk for people who also have a lowered immunity due to AIIRD or other autoimmune conditions in addition to an existing herpes infection. Again, there’s no way for the vaccine to cause herpes it only has the potential to reactivate it if you already have the virus in your body.
And that’s not because the COVID-19 vaccine is doing anything notably crazy to your body. Other common physical and mental stressors – from having a common cold to going through a rough patch at work or a break-up – are thought to be enough to trigger this sort of reactivation in both herpes zoster and simplex, according to research.
“We should not scare people,” Dr. Furer told the outlet. “The overall message is to get vaccinated. It is just important to be aware.”
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What Do Genital Herpes Symptoms Look Like
The most common symptoms of herpes are small blisters that burst to leave red, open sores. You can get herpes blisters on your penis, vagina, anus, throat, on the top of your thighs and buttocks or around your mouth .
Other symptoms can include:
- tingling or burning around the genitals
- feeling unwell, with aches, pains and flu-like symptoms
- unusual vaginal discharge in women.
Many people with genital herpes wont get any symptoms, or may get symptoms for the first time months or even years after they were infected.
For most people, the blisters go away within one to two weeks. Although the outbreaks clear-up by themselves, the virus stays in the body. This means that people usually get blisters again which is called having a recurrent outbreak. Outbreaks usually become shorter and less severe over time.
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Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
Treatment If The Blisters Come Back
Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.
Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.
But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.
Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.
Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.
Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.
If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.
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Do Natural Remedies Help
There are several options that can be tried to ease the pain. A73612 and Donnor52059 suggest dabbing cornstarch directly on the sores. I can’t find any scientific studies that have researched this, but I can’t see that it would do any harm.
A73612 also recommends squirting water from a bottle over the sores when you pee. This is a time-honoured method that will help to ease the pain.
Yolandayw mentioned taking a simple painkiller such as paracetamol during an outbreak. Feelbroken advised putting Vaseline on the sores. Lidocaine 5%, a local anaesthetic gel that numbs the area, is another option. Some people find it helpful to put on five minutes before passing urine. You need to get it on prescription and it doesn’t suit everyone. Some people develop sensitivity to it which makes the symptoms worse.
Yolandayw also advised using ice as a home remedy. Simply wrap the ice in a tea towel and apply for 5-10 minutes. Never put ice directly on the skin as this can cause ‘ice burn’. Drinking plenty of water can also be helpful as it reduces the concentration of urine, making it less painful when you have to pee.