Does herpes mean I have a greater risk of cervical cancer?
There are other herpes questions that people need answers to. We can help.
There is no greater risk of cervical cancer if you have genital herpes. It was thought for a time that genital herpes could be one of the causes of cervical cancer. Further research has shown that this is not so.
Can I give blood now I have herpes?
Yes, you can be a blood donor. The virus is not found in blood.
Is herpes simplex ever serious?
Genital herpes can cause severe discomfort and a flu-like illness.
- In rare cases cases there may be urinary retention during a first outbreak. In this case a catheter may be needed but this does not mean that it is considered to be medically serious.
- You may read about viral meningitis caused by herpes. Viral meningitis is very different from the dangerous bacterial meningitis. Most cases of viral meningitis are mild and clear quickly.
- Some people with weakened immune systems or on certain medications may have many outbreaks. They can take prescribed antiviral medication to prevent them.
- People with widespread eczema (or some other skin conditions) can have a more severe infection called eczema herpeticum (Latin for ‘eczema with herpes’). This may occur because the infection gets into a larger area of skin through the eczema sores. The National Eczema Society has a page about this, and there is a version that appears after long-term steroid use.
- There is an even rarer complication is an allergic reaction to the herpes simplex virus called erythema multiforme. It is so rare that many doctors never see it. It is more likely with a facial infection – unlikely with a genital infection. Symptoms are blisters over a wide area (trunk, face, arms, etc.). Patients may need treatment in hospital. These extra symptoms are not infectious as this is an allergic reaction. There is no virus in the blisters that arise from the allergy.
Complications of herpes simplex?
Although genital herpes is not serious, facial herpes simplex can sometimes have serious complications – see links below.
Rare complications of facial cold sores are:
- Bell’s palsy is a temporary partial paralysis of one side of the face that usually gets better in a few weeks. It can happen when the nerve in the face is affected by cold sores. This causes loss of taste, drooping features and unresponsive facial muscles. Typically this is only one side of the face. Bell’s palsy usually resolves in a few weeks though it can last longer. www.bellspalsy.org.uk can give you more information.
- Very rarely, a facial infection can reactivate inside the eye. This is called ophthalmic herpes simplex or herpes keratitis, dentritis or uveititis. It should be referred to a specialist eye doctor: if left untreated it may damage sight. The RNIB has more information.
- Extremely rarely, a facial infection can reactivate in the brain. This is called encephalitis. If untreated, it may leave damage. www.encephalitis.info is a specialist charity for people with encephalitis.
Where can I get answers to my other herpes questions?
We run a helpline answered by trained volunteers who have herpes simplex themselves. Phone 0845 123 2305. Have a pen and paper handy to jot down the times when the next volunteer is available. They are available every weekday from noon till 6 pm. Some days from 9 am until 8 pm.
You can come and talk informally and personally to Marian (or Alice or Cameron) at the London meetings open to all – see events page. They are well informed. They attend the medical Herpes Simplex Virus Panel meetings – and they have the virus.
More questions and answers
- Getting diagnosed with genital herpes
- About herpes simplex virus
- Passing on/transmitting herpes
- Herpes recurrences explained
- Treating genital herpes
- Genital herpes, pregnancy and childbirth
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