How to Test Herpes
Genital Herpes Simplex virus or HSV infections are very common all over the world, with surveys showing rising rates in many countries. Herpes testing is done in order to check out the presence of Herpes Simplex virus or HSV. Small blisters or sores on the skin characterize the infection. These blisters and sores can also be present in the mucous membranes present in the mouth, the throat or the nose as well as in the rectum, vagina and the urethra. There might be a single outbreak of such sores or several more. HSV is of two types, namely, HSV type 1 and 2.
Diagnosis of Herpes Simplex
When there is an outbreak of herpes, dermatologists can usually diagnose the presence of the virus merely by looking at the sores. In order to confirm the presence of the virus, the dermatologist might take a swab from the sores and then send them to the lab for testing. However, if there are no sores, there are blood tests and other medical tests that can confirm the presence of the virus.
Testing for Herpes is usually done from sores that are present in the genital areas. Testing is also done with the use of samples, namely blood or urine samples as well as spinal fluid or even tears. The test also shows what type of Herpes is causing the sores, whether HSV-1 or HSV-2. You can also find out whether a sex partner has been infected with Herpes and diagnose the presence of the Herpes virus in a newborn child, in case the mother has the infection.
There are also other diagnostic techniques and serological tests. Laboratory testing includes serotyping, as this is useful for the prognosis of the virus as well as for counseling purposes. However, the value of the test depends on the quality of the specimen test, the ability of the lab to offer accurate results, proper interpretation of results and the kind of test used.
Conducting the Test at Home
In order to get a viral culture or to make a test for a viral antigen, you need to take a clean cotton swab and rub it against the sore. This will help you collect the fluid and the cells to be examined. You can also collect such samples from other areas where the sores are present, such as the vagina or the penis, cervix, the urethra or even from the skin. It is better to collect samples from smaller sores, that are new or just a few days old. This is because it is more likely to find viruses in sores that are newly formed.
For an antibody test, you can wrap a band around the upper arm in order to stop the blood flow. This also helps the veins to become larger and makes it easier for you to put the needle in the vein. Before inserting the needle in the vein, it is advisable to clean the area with alcohol. You may need more than one needle prick. The tube has to be attached to the needle for collection of blood. You can then remove the band from the arm after collecting sufficient blood. Place some cotton or a gauze pad over the site after removing the needle. Press the area before putting on a bandage.
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