To be infected with a herpes virus is a state of normality, not an abnormality. It happens to all adults, some of us with symptoms and some without. The key thing is not whether you are infected or not, but whether it is causing symptoms or not – and if it is, then what can be done about it.
The pattern of outbreaks varies widely in people with herpes. Some people carry the virus even though they’ve never had symptoms. Others may have only one outbreak or outbreaks that occur rarely. Some people have regular outbreaks that occur every 1 to 4 weeks.
Early symptoms and signs of genital herpes tend to develop within 3 to 7 days of skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. This 3 to 7 day period is known as the incubation period. Genital herpes infections look like a rash composed of small blisters or ulcers (round areas of broken skin) on the genitals. Each blister or ulcer is typically only 1 to 3 millimeters (1/32 inch to 1/8th inch) in size, and the blisters or ulcers tend to be grouped into “crops.” Usually the blisters form first, then soon open to form ulcers. Herpes infections may be painless or slightly tender. In some people, however, the blisters or ulcers can be very tender and painful.
Of the viruses, the herpesviruses, which cause the common “cold sore” of the lips and skin and the venereal form of herpes, are a frequent cause of corneal ulceration. Infection is most often spread by personal contact. The herpesvirus causes a typical ulcer of the cornea called, from the…
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by a herpes simplex virus (HSV). It can cause on your genital or rectal area, buttocks, and thighs. You can get it from having vaginal, anal, or oral sex with someone who has it. The virus can spread even when sores are not present. Mothers can also infect their babies during childbirth.
Your doctor can typically diagnose a herpes infection by a visual examination of the herpes sores. Although they aren’t always necessary, your doctor may confirm their diagnosis through laboratory tests.
^ Jump up to: a b c d Becerra, Juan Carlos Lozano; Sieber, Robert; Martinetti, Gladys; Costa, Silvia Tschuor; Meylan, Pascal; Bernasconi, Enos (July 2013). “Infection of the central nervous system caused by varicella zoster virus reactivation: a retrospective case series study”. International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 17 (7): e529–34. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2013.01.031. PMID 23566589.
In some cases, women who have suffered scarring due to chlamydia are still able to conceive. However, they may be at risk of an ectopic pregnancy (where the baby develops in the fallopian tubes rather than the womb itself). Ectopic pregnancies can be very dangerous for the mother and need to be diagnosed as quickly as possible to prevent dangerous complications. Regular chlamydia testing and the use of condoms are important steps in preventing chlamydia and all possible complications in women.
By avoiding sex when the signs of herpes are present, and by using condoms with sexual partners between herpes outbreaks, the chance of passing on herpes is reduced. Taking daily oral antivirals, known as suppressive treatment (see page 35), as well as using condoms, makes the chances of passing on herpes extremely low.
Oral herpes (HSV-1) infection (or exposure without noticeable infection) is common. About 65% of the U.S. population has detectable antibodies to HSV-1 by age 40. This article will focus on HSV-1, or oral herpes, not on HSV-2, also commonly known as genital herpes. Genital herpes is considered to be a sexually transmitted disease (STD). In addition, HSV-2 virus should not be confused with human papillomavirus (HPV), the cause of genital warts, and some cervical and other cancer types.
If you have genital herpes and are pregnant, be sure to tell your doctor. He or she will give you an antiviral medicine. This will make it less likely that you will have an outbreak at or near the time you deliver your baby. If you do have an outbreak of genital herpes at the time of delivery, your doctor will most likely deliver your baby by C-section. With a C-section, the risk of giving herpes to your baby is small.
Herpes antiviral therapy began in the early 1960s with the experimental use of medications that interfered with viral replication called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) inhibitors. The original use was against normally fatal or debilitating illnesses such as adult encephalitis, keratitis, in immunocompromised (transplant) patients, or disseminated herpes zoster. The original compounds used were 5-iodo-2′-deoxyuridine, AKA idoxuridine, IUdR, or(IDU) and 1-β-D-arabinofuranosylcytosine or ara-C, later marketed under the name cytosar or cytorabine. The usage expanded to include topical treatment of herpes simplex, zoster, and varicella. Some trials combined different antivirals with differing results. The introduction of 9-β-D-arabinofuranosyladenine, (ara-A or vidarabine), considerably less toxic than ara-C, in the mid-1970s, heralded the way for the beginning of regular neonatal antiviral treatment. Vidarabine was the first systemically administered antiviral medication with activity against HSV for which therapeutic efficacy outweighed toxicity for the management of life-threatening HSV disease. Intravenous vidarabine was licensed for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1977. Other experimental antivirals of that period included: heparin, trifluorothymidine (TFT), Ribivarin, interferon, Virazole, and 5-methoxymethyl-2′-deoxyuridine (MMUdR). The introduction of 9-(2-hydroxyethoxymethyl)guanine, AKA acyclovir, in the late 1970s raised antiviral treatment another notch and led to vidarabine vs. acyclovir trials in the late 1980s. The lower toxicity and ease of administration over vidarabine has led to acyclovir becoming the drug of choice for herpes treatment after it was licensed by the FDA in 1998. Another advantage in the treatment of neonatal herpes included greater reductions in mortality and morbidity with increased dosages, which did not occur when compared with increased dosages of vidarabine. However, acyclovir seems to inhibit antibody response, and newborns on acyclovir antiviral treatment experienced a slower rise in antibody titer than those on vidarabine.
For preventing later genital herpes outbreaks, people with recurring infections also may benefit from the antiviral medications. Treatment is started when the recurrence first begins and continues for five days.