If you get recurrent painful blisters with itching or tingling in your skin, around your mouth or in your genital area, check with your doctor who will usually do a culture of the blisters. If the culture shows that you have an infection with one of the two herpes simplex viruses, your doctor can give you a prescription for pills containing one of three common drugs used to shorten the course of each outbreak of blisters:
• acyclovir (Zovirax)
• famciclovir (Famvir)
• valacyclovir (Valtrex)
Creams containing these medications are not very effective and home remedies have not been shown to offer any benefit whatever. After your first infection, you may or may not suffer recurrent outbreaks. There is no cure for herpes because the virus can live forever in the nerves in that area, but drugs can lessen pain and duration of each outbreak. People who have more than six outbreaks a year can take the pills daily to reduce the frequency of outbreaks.
These recurrent blisters may also be associated with fever, body aches and swollen lymph nodes. Herpes is usually contracted by sexual exposure to an infected person. Oral herpes can cause blisters on the lips and around the mouth, or anywhere on the skin. It is an extremely unusual cause of blisters inside the mouth. In women, genital herpes usually causes blisters around the vaginal opening that can spread to the cervix in the back of the vagina. A man can develop blisters and ulcers on his penis. Both men and women can suffer urinary infections that cause burning on urination, bladder burning or a feeling that the bladder is full all the time. A person with herpes can be contagious even when he or she has no discomfort or blisters.
The virus travels in fluids that can flow around condoms, so any sexual contact, oral or genital, can give you an infection. You can get herpes just by kissing a person with a lip or mouth cold sore. The first blisters usually occur around four days after exposure to an infected person, but they can start anywhere from two to 12 days after your contact. Untreated, the discomfort usually lasts four days, but can last two to four weeks. More than 60 percent of people have had this infection and one in four between ages 15 and 50 carries this virus. Every new sexual exposure is a chance to pick up a new disease, some of which have no cure.