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You Can Have Herpes and Show No Symptoms. How to Find out if You’re Infected

Many diseases announce their arrival with noticeable symptoms. But herpes- one of the most common STDs in the US often don’t. In general, most people with the disease are asymptomatic. Or, they can have very mild symptoms that can go unnoticed. And sometimes, they can be mistaken for these in other conditions.

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus or HSV. Most of the time, the virus stays dormant and causes no symptoms. That means you might have herpes for a long time and spread to your sexual partner without knowing it. This lack of symptoms can be very dangerous. Here is what you need to know.

The cycle of herpes infections

Herpes has two main types, including oral herpes and genital herpes. Oral herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1. It usually appears on or around the lips, outside of the mouth. Genital herpes, on the other hand, is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 or HSV-2. It usually happens on the genital and anal areas. But HSV-1 can also cause genital herpes. This occurs through oral sex with a person who has the virus.

Often, symptoms do not present as soon as you are infected. It may take 2 to 20 days for herpes to show up symptoms. For some people, it may take months or even years before the outbreak develops. To find out if you’re infected with herpes, check your signs and symptoms. Here is the cycle of herpes infection.

  • Inflammation

The infected area will become red, swollen and inflamed. Some people may experience itching, burning and tingling.  

  • Blisters

Blisters will begin to form on the infected area. They can be filled with red, white or clear liquid or pus. They can also appear individually or develop in clusters or groups.

the cycle of herpes simplex virus

Herpes blisters

  • Ulcers

After blistering stage, the sores will burst and the fluid will leak out, called ulcers. These ulcers can be very sensitive and painful. They can also be reddish and resemble a small cut.

  • Crusting

This is considered as the healing stage of herpes. The ulcers will form scabs and begin to heal. The new skin will also form under the scab. During this stage, you may experience dryness, itchiness, pain, cracking and bleeding.

Herpes can heal on its own without treatment. But the virus still remains in the body and it will reactivate. Some people may only have 1 outbreak a year, others may develop 4 to 6 or even more. The first outbreak is the worst. Over time, the length and severity of outbreaks will decrease. Herpes outbreaks can be triggered by illness, fatigue and stress.

Read more: 7 Types of Bumps and Blisters You Should Never Try to Pop

Without symptoms, how to find out if you’re infected with herpes

If your herpes infection shows zero symptoms, here are some steps to confirm if you have the virus. 

1. Checking for high risk factors

You can herpes and show no symptoms. To determine if you’re infected with the condition, examine your high risk factors. Experts believe that some factors can increase a person’s risk of getting herpes. These are:

  • A weak immune system

Your immune system plays a role in protecting the body against viruses and bacteria. If it becomes weakened, you will be more susceptible to herpes infections. Some related factors can also make you more vulnerable to the disease. For example: old age, stress, illness, diabetes, AIDS and cancer.

  • Workplace exposure to herpes

Some places that are exposed to HSV can increase your risk of getting herpes. For example, dental office, beauty salons and spas. Herpes is highly contagious. It can be spread through directly touching the sores or sharing infected objects. Many people get herpes from waxing, tanning beds, tattoos or piercings, razors and lip balms.

  • Herpes simplex infections in atopic eczema

Eczema is a common itchy skin condition among humans. It can be infected with herpes simplex viruses, causing eczema herpeticum (EH). Children and infants who have eczema are more likely to develop EH. Those with damaged skin resulting from burns and other skin diseases can also be at risk.

Sharing lipstick: herpes risk factors

Sharing lipstick: herpes risk factors

2. Consider your sexual contact

Sexual intercourse is the most common way that makes herpes spread from person to person. Condoms can help protect you and your partner against the disease, but not 100 percent. Some sexual activity can put you at risk of getting herpes, including:

  • Kissing
  • Oral sex
  • Vaginal sex
  • Anal sex
  • Genital rubbing or grinding
  • Mutual masturbation

If you have unprotected sex with someone who has HSV, you will be likely to get it, too. And even if you use a condom but it breaks during sex, you can also be at risk of this disease. A lot of other diseases can be transmitted through sexual contact, such as HPV, genital warts and HIV.

Read more: 10 Mistakes to Avoid When You Have Oral Sex with Herpes

Herpes and sexual contact

Herpes is contagious via sexual contact

3. Determine the number of sexual partners you’ve recently had

The number of your sexual partners can affect your chances of getting herpes. The more sexual partners you have, the higher chances of getting herpes you will have. But having herpes doesn’t mean you have had sex with multiple partners. You may get it from one person, one time.  

If you’re a female, you should be aware of your increased risk. Herpes infection is most common in women than in men.

4. Getting regular tests to know your status

If you have sores on your skin and suspect herpes, see a doctor for testing. The doctor can check your symptoms and ask about your sexual history. To confirm the diagnosis, they can perform a culture test (a swab from the symptom). It usually takes a week to get results.

If your herpes infection shows no symptoms, blood tests can be useful. These cannot identify the virus that causes herpes, but can check for antibodies in the blood. IgG and IgM are two common blood tests for herpes infections. Both can be expensive and inaccurate so they are not often performed unless you ask your doctor for it.

So keep regular visits with your doctor to check your health. If you experience an outbreak of herpes, consult a doctor for a culture test. If you do not have any symptoms, consider a blood test.

Read more: Everything You Need to Know about Herpes Tests

Tests for herpes

Tests for herpes

Knowing your status is important for treating herpes at the first signs. It also help prevent the spread of herpes to your partner. Untreated herpes can lead to some serious health problems, such as:

  • Severe pain and discomfort
  • Increased risk of HIV infection
  • Miscarriage and premature birth
  • Vision loss and blindness when herpes infects the eyes

Prosurx is one of the best antiviral herpes medications that help get rid of symptoms fast. This medication also reduces the risk of spreading herpes to others. Moreover, it can inactivate the HSV, preventing recurrent outbreaks. Other antiviral medications for herpes infections include Valacyclovir, Penciclovir and Acyclovir. Consult a doctor if your condition doesn’t respond to these medications.

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