Herpes simplex virus is a widespread STD that infects many people. You can catch this virus through contact with anyone who has the virus. Herpes manifests in several parts of the body: on the lips, genitals, anus, mouth, eyes, and even the breasts. Yes, you read that right. It’s entirely possible to get herpes on your breast.
At Rapid STD Testing, we know that getting regular STD tests is the key to having a happy, healthy, and safe life if you are sexually active. If you believe you may have herpes on your breasts, or if you’ve had unprotected sex, you can get a same-day STD test from one of our 2500+ locations nationwide.
Keep reading as we tell you more about herpes on the breasts, including causes, symptoms, and how to navigate breastfeeding.
Herpes simplex virus generally falls into two categories:
1. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1): occurring near the mouth, such as cold sores
2. Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2): occurring near the genitals
Can herpes appear on your breasts? Yes, and it’s known as herpes simplex mastitis. Herpes can infect any part of the skin or mucous membrane. Although herpes mastitis is rare, it happens. Despite the uncommon location, 2% of herpes lesions that don’t manifest on the genitals involve the breasts.
In addition, lesions occurring on the breast without first presenting orally or genitally are rarer. Most cases usually have symptoms of HSV-1 or HSV-2 occurring first, and they then manifest on the breasts. However, HSV-1 and HSV-2 infections can be asymptomatic, meaning they don’t show any visible symptoms.
So, how can you get herpes sores on your breast? In general, there are a few ways, including some that are non-sexual. Getting an STD without sex is unusual, but it does happen. However, the most common way to get herpes on the breast is from a herpes-infected newborn, who passes it to the skin on the breast during breastfeeding.
For example, we researched one case where a five-year-old sibling infected a 15-month-old baby, who infected the mother during breastfeeding. Herpes can transfer to the skin on the nipple, areola, or breast skin, where the lesions develop. However, you can get herpes on the breast in other ways as well:
If you have the herpes virus, the look of the sores or lesions will vary. Typically, active herpes lesions look like this:
Areas with an outbreak will feel itchy, tender, and painful. Itching furthers the irritation, and if you touch an open sore and then touch your face, nose, eyes, or genitals, you could transfer the virus to that area. Remember, herpes can occur anywhere on the skin or mucous membrane.
A herpes outbreak on the breast usually presents as sores on the areola or nipple that have a red patch and are itchy. In most cases, the person first had oral or genital herpes then spread the virus to their breasts.
During the first active outbreak of herpes sores, you may also have flu-like symptoms, such as:
Fortunately, you can detect whether you have herpes with a rapid STD test. You can get tested by your healthcare provider, but the results will become part of your permanent medical record. Alternatively, for safe, confidential, and accurate results, you can visit Rapid STD Testing. Many people choose our comprehensive 10-panel STD test to check for the most common STDs.
After ordering a test panel, visit one of our 2,500 nationwide locations, provide a quick sample, and you’ll have results in one to three days.
Yes and no. You can still breastfeed if you have herpes sores on your breast, but not if both breasts have open sores. It’s vital to avoid contact between your baby and an active herpes outbreak. Consider these breastfeeding precautions and additional risk factors.
Observe Strict Hygiene: Ensuring that you remain clean and hygienic is critical if you have herpes and a newborn baby. You can pass HSV from your skin without an active lesion through viral shedding. If you touch an open sore, wash your hands thoroughly and immediately.
Avoid Contact with Active Lesions: If you have an active lesion on your breast, nipple, or mouth, or if your baby has an outbreak, avoid contact with those areas. For example, women with herpes on their breasts should abstain from feeding their baby from that breast, either naturally or via expressed milk. Also, prevent your child from touching the sores. Cover skin with active outbreaks at all times.
Discard Infected Milk: You may pump or breastfeed from the breast without lesions. However, be sure that the breast pump doesn’t come into contact with any open sores. If it does, you need to discard the milk. If you need help, look for a breastmilk bank or donor mother.
You can breastfeed if you have herpes. However, please consider these additional risk factors. Herpes infections can be very severe in newborns and are often fatal. If you have the herpes simplex virus, you can pass it to your baby via direct or indirect contact.
You can only breastfeed if you don’t have active lesions on at least one of your breasts, and you must cover the infected breast. In some cases, the herpes simplex virus can be present in breast milk. However, the chance of transferring HSV through breastmilk is low.
What about donating blood if you have herpes? You can, but you should avoid doing so if you have an active herpes outbreak.
Herpes is a lifelong condition and has no cure. However, you can alleviate its symptoms. Typically, the first outbreak is the worst, and recurring episodes will be less severe, even with long periods of no active sores. While no cure exists, it’s possible to manage herpes successfully.
Most treatments consist of antiviral medications, which you can take daily or when an outbreak occurs. A daily antiviral regimen lowers your chance of recurring outbreaks and passing on HSV to a sexual partner.
Antivirals for herpes treatment include:
How do you treat breast herpes? For an active outbreak, take an antiviral, keep the sore covered, and avoid touching it. You may also use over-the-counter topical treatments for relief, like creams.
If you have HSV-1 (cold sores on the mouth), you can use over-the-counter medications like Abreva, Herplex, etc. In addition, some people prefer to use natural supplements, like the amino acid L-lysine.
Antivirals are the best course of treatment for genital herpes. However, you may also use other methods, such as more natural treatment methods. Please remember that natural treatments only relieve symptoms—they will not attack the virus internally as an antiviral would.
Another way to relieve painful symptoms of active outbreaks is to apply cornstarch loosely to the affected area. It will reduce itching and prevent moisture from causing further irritation.
If you believe you may have an STD or have had unprotected sex, please get tested immediately. Call Rapid STD Testing today at (866) 872-1888 or order a testing panel online now and stay in control of your sex life.