An infection caused by one of two types of herpes simplex virus (HSV). Herpes type 2 virus (HSV-2) is the usual cause of genital herpes. Herpes type 1 virus (HSV-1) causes common cold sores around the mouth, but can also cause genital herpes. Genital herpes can affect any sexually active male or female.
FREQUENT SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF GENITAL HERPES
- No symptoms may occur or they may not be noticed. A person may not realize they are infected.
- Early symptoms may include itching or burning in the genital or anal area. This may be followed by pain. Women may have vaginal discharge.
- Within a few days, sores appear in the vaginal area, on the penis, around the anal opening, on the buttocks, thighs, or the mouth. The sores start as red bumps, then turn into a cluster of blisters that open and cause pain. They then crust over and heal. There is no scarring.
- First episode may include a general ill feeling, difficult and painful urination, swollen lymph glands, and fever.
- Symptoms can recur since the virus permanently remains in the body.
- Future outbreaks may be milder. They may occur several times a year in some, but others may have only one or two outbreaks in a lifetime.
CAUSES OF GENITAL HERPES
Having sex (intercourse or oral sex) with someone who is having a herpes outbreak. An outbreak means that HSV is active and usually causes visible sores in the genital area. The sores shed the virus that can infect another person. In some cases, a person may have an outbreak with no visible sores. They can still shed the virus and infect the other person.
GENITAL HERPES RISK INCREASES WITH
Anyone who is sexually active.
GENITAL HERPES PREVENTIVE MEASURES
Avoid sexual intercourse if either partner has blisters or sores. Use a latex condom during intercourse if either sex partner has inactive genital herpes (especially important if the infected partner has frequent recurrences). Avoid oral sex with a partner who has cold sores on the mouth. If you are pregnant, tell your doctor if you have had herpes or any genital lesions in the past. Precautions should be taken to prevent infection of the baby. Avoid stress where possible.
EXPECTED OUTCOME OF GENITAL HERPES
Genital herpes is currently considered incurable, but symptoms can be relieved with treatment. During symptom-free periods, the virus returns to its dormant state. Symptoms recur when the virus is reactivated. Recurrent symptoms are not new infections. The discomfort varies from person to person and from time to time in the same person. The sores usually heal within two to four weeks. The first time it occurs, subsequent outbreaks are less severe or shorter than the first.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONS OF GENITAL HERPES
Complications are rare in otherwise healthy persons. A person with a weak immune system may have more severe and prolonged outbreaks. Psychological distress can occur.
GENERAL MEASURES AGAINST GENITAL HERPES
- Your health care provider can usually diagnose the disorder by an exam of the affected area. Medical tests may include blood studies or studies of fluid taken from the sores.
- Treatment goals are to relieve the symptoms and prevent recurrences.
- For self-care, keep the affected area clean and dry. Avoid touching the sores, but if you do, wash your hands right away.
- Certain ?triggers? can lead to outbreaks. They include surgery, menstruation, infection, and some medications. A person will begin to recognize their triggers and take steps to avoid them.
- Consider counseling for problems of emotional stress
- If you are pregnant and have herpes, be sure to advise your obstetric provider so any safeguards can be taken.
MEDICATION AGAINST GENITAL HERPES
There is no treatment to cure herpes, but antiviral medicines can shorten outbreaks. Medicine may be prescribed to prevent outbreaks. Mild pain relievers, such as acetaminophen may be used.