A lot of people who have been infected with the herpes virus show no symptoms whatsoever. If you do have herpes and get outbreaks you would know how frustrating it can be when cold sores or genital sores show up.
Herpes Outbreak Symptoms To Expect
The symptoms of herpes vary for the initial and recurrent outbreaks. The very first herpes outbreak, after you were infected, is usually more severe than the recurrent ones. Keep in mind that for the majority of new cases there may be no symptoms at all and up to 25% of people with genital herpes will be completely unaware of it. The lack of visible symptoms will not stop the transmission of herpes.
Genital Herpes Symptoms
The symptoms of the primary genital herpes outbreak usually show up within 1-2 weeks after exposure to the virus. Genital herpes outbreak symptoms begin with a tingling sensation in the affected area (genitals, thighs, buttocks) followed by a group of red bumps that will later become blisters. More blisters will develop in the following weeks and these will then rupture to create open sores. In the last stages of the cycle the sores dry out, crust over and then heal with no scars. The sores may be itchy but this will eventually stop as healing takes place. The initial outbreak may often be accompanied by headaches, fever, muscle ache, swollen glands s and flu-like symptoms. There might also be a burning sensation when urinating and women may experience an unusual discharge from the vaginal. For those asking question how long do herpes outbreaks last the answer is that the initial outbreak can last up to 2-3 weeks. Women usually experience longer herpes outbreak duration than men.
For recurrent genital herpes outbreaks the symptoms will be much milder and the length of the outbreak will be much shorter than the first outbreak. There will be much less itching and most likely no fever and pains. The average amount of recurrent outbreaks is 4-5 times annually. This varies based on a number of factors that will be discussed later on this page
Oral Herpes Symptoms
Most cases of oral herpes are caused by the herpes simplex virus 1 but there are cases where the herpes simplex virus 2 can be the cause. The primary oral herpes outbreak symptoms are usually very painful. Expect to see the development of blisters on the lips and tongue. These blisters rupture and form open sores with a yellowish membrane. Other symptoms may include bad breath, increased saliva, sore throat, fever or loss of hearing. The symptoms can last for three days to two weeks.
Just as with genital herpes the symptoms of recurrent infections are much milder than the first herpes outbreak. The following outbreaks of oral herpes are called cold sores and occur on the outer edges of the lips. Outbreaks occur only 2-3 times a year and last for a few days.
The Cycle of A Herpes Outbreak
One of the most often asked question is how long do herpes outbreaks last. The answer is in stakges of outbreaks. The stages of a herpes outbreak might include any or all of the following:
- Prodome symptoms: Most people will experience prodome or an early set of symptoms which signal the upcoming outbreak. Symptoms will include redness, burning, itching and sensitivity. These symptoms can last for up to two days before the actual outbreak. Not everyone who experiences these prodomal symptoms will have an actual outbreak.
- Outbreak: If you do experience an outbreak the symptoms will always erupt at the site of the infection. The recurrent outbreaks will be milder than the initial one and will heal in 3-6 days.
What Triggers Recurrent Outbreaks?
Factors such as colds and flu, sunlight, fever, menstruation, emotional stress, surgery, physical injury or anything that comprises the immune system can trigger an outbreak. Dental procedures such as tooth extraction can also cause a recurrent outbreak of oral herpes.
Preventing the Transmission of Herpes
If you have been infected with herpes you should do all you can to avoid transmitting the virus to others. Even when you are not experiencing an active outbreak it is possible to pass the disease on to others. Follow the suggestions below to reduce transmission rate.
Latex Condoms. You should abstain from sexual activities during prodomal symptoms and when there are active outbreaks. If you do engage in sexual activities use latex condoms to reduce the risks of passing on the virus.
Water-based lubricants . Water based lubricants should be used with condoms to reduce friction which can cause irritation and breaks in the skin. Never use oil based lubricants since they can weaken the latex and cause it to burst.
Dental dams. Dental dams help prevent transmission of the virus during oral sex.
Another thing to keep in mind is that limiting the amount of sexual partners that you have will ensure that you transmit the disease to as few people as possible. Do not touch the herpes blisters but if you do wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to avoid spreading the virus to other parts of the body.
Treatment of Herpes Outbreaks
The moment you experience any prodome symptoms or feel the onset of an outbreak you should take the steps to treat the area. Topical solutions are available which will reduce the severity of the actual outbreak and the time that the herpes outbreak lasts. These topical solutions serve to weaken the virus so that it is unable to develop blisters or sores on the skin.