Genital Herpes Facts
The skin or genitals’ mucous membranes are commonly affected by genital herpes. The HSV is transmitted from person to person through direct skin-to-skin contact, such as sex.
There are two types of HSV:
- HSV-1 most frequently affects the lips and mouth, giving rise to fever blisters or cold sores. However, it can be transmitted via mouth-to-genital during oral sex.
- HSV-2 most frequently affects the genital area, causing genital herpes. The virus can be passed on through skin contact or fluids from the genitals or mouth.
You could become infected with HSV if your mouth, skin, vagina, or penis comes into contact with somebody who already is infected with herpes.
You’re most likely to contract HSV if you touch somebody who presents with a rash, blisters, or herpes sores.
However, HSV can still be passed on, even when sores or other signs aren’t present. In some instances, people are not aware they are infected. HSV-2 infections on the genitals are more widespread in women than men.
Numerous individuals with genital herpes do not present with sores— or they have extremely mild symptoms that usually go ignored or are mistaken for another skin condition or insect bites.
If symptoms and signs do take place during the initial outbreak, then they can be painful and severe. This initial outbreak most frequently occurs within two days to two weeks after being infected.
General symptoms could include:
- Decreased appetite
- Muscle aches in the knees, thighs, buttocks, or lower back
- General sick feeling or malaise
- Tender and swollen lymph nodes in the groin
- Genital symptoms entail tiny, painful blisters filled with straw-colored or clear fluid.
Areas where the blisters or sores could found include:
- In women – outer labia (vaginal lips), vagina, cervix, on the buttocks or thighs, around the anus
- In men – penis, scrotum, on the thighs or buttocks, around the anus
- Both – tongue, mouth, gums, lips, fingers, eyes, and other body parts
Before the appearance of the blisters, there could be pain, tingling, burning, or itching at the area where they will appear.
When they break, the blisters leave superficial ulcers that are extremely painful. These ulcers will crust over and then heal in seven to fourteen days or more.
Other symptoms could include:
- Pain when urinating
- Vaginal discharge
- Problems urinating that may involve a urinary catheter
A subsequent outbreak can occur several weeks or months later. It’s frequently less severe and painful, and it disappears sooner than the initial outbreak. The number of herpes outbreaks could decrease over time.
Examination and Tests
Tests can be carried out on skin blisters or sores to diagnose an HSV infection. These tests are frequently done when somebody is experiencing an initial outbreak as well as when a pregnant woman develops HSV symptoms.
Tests take in:
- Culture from an open sore or blister. This test could be positive for herpes simplex. It’s most helpful during the initial outbreak.
- PCR or polymerase chain reaction carried out from a blister. This method is the most accurate test to determine whether or not HSV is present within the blister.
- Blood tests that examine antibody level to HSV. These tests can detect whether an individual has been infected with HSV, even between herpes outbreaks. A test result that’s positive when an individual has never experienced an outbreak would point out that he or she was exposed to HSV at some time ago.
Genital herpes can’t be cured. Anti-viral agents such as valacyclovir or acyclovir, which have rare side effects, are usually prescribed.
These medicines aid to relieve discomfort and pain during an active outbreak through healing the sores faster. They appear to work better during first outbreaks than in later ones.
Pregnant women could be treated for HSV during the final month of pregnancy in order to cut the chance of experiencing an outbreak during delivery.
If an outbreak takes place around the time of delivery, the doctor will recommend a C-section. This method cuts the chance of transmitting the virus to the baby.