What Is Genital Herpes? How is the treatment?

What Is Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease (STI). This STI causes herpes sores that can cause painful blisters (fluid-filled bumps) to open and ooze. About 16 percent of people ages 14 to 49 have this CBY.

What Causes Genital Herpes?

Two strains of the herpes simplex virus cause genital herpes: HSV-1 (usually causes cold sores) and HSV-2 (usually causes genital herpes).

Viruses enter your body through mucous membranes. Your mucous membranes are thin layers of tissue that line the openings of your body. They can be found in the nose, mouth, and genitals.

After viruses get inside your body, they attach themselves to your cells and then stay in the nerve cells of your pelvis. Viruses tend to multiply or adapt to their environment very easily, making them difficult to treat.

HSV-1 or HSV-2 can be found in the bodily fluids of infected people, including:

  • Saliva
  • Semen
  • vaginal secretions

Recognizing the Symptoms of Genital Herpes

The appearance of blisters is known as an outbreak. Your first outbreak will also occur two days or 30 days after you contract the virus.

For men, general symptoms include blisters on the penis, scrotum, or buttocks (at or around the anus).

General symptoms for women include blisters on or near the vagina, anus, and buttocks.

General symptoms for both men and women include:

Blisters can appear in your mouth and lips, on your face, and anywhere that comes into contact with infected areas.

The infected area often begins to itch or tingle before the actual appearance of the blisters.

Blisters may ulcerate (open sores) and ooze fluid.

A crust may appear on the sores within a week after the outbreak.

Your lymph nodes may swell. Lymph nodes fight infection and inflammation in the body.

There may be headaches, body aches, and fever.

General symptoms for a baby born with herpes (inherited through vaginal delivery) may include ulcers on the face, body, and genitals. Babies born with genital herpes can develop very serious complications and experiences:

  • blindness
  • brain damage
  • death

If you are pregnant, it is very important that you tell your doctor that you have genital herpes. They take the necessary precautions to prevent the virus from being transmitted to your baby during birth; One possible method is to have your baby delivered via cesarean section instead of a routine vaginal delivery.

Diagnosing Genital Herpes

Your doctor can typically diagnose a herpes infection by visually examining herpes sores. Although they are not always necessary, your doctor can confirm their diagnosis with lab tests.

A blood test can diagnose the herpes simplex virus before it has an outbreak. Make an appointment with your doctor if you think you may have had genital herpes, even if you haven’t experienced any symptoms yet.

How Can Genital Herpes Be Treated?

Treatment can reduce outbreaks, but cannot cure herpes simplex viruses.

Medicines

Antiviral drugs speed up the healing time of your wounds and reduce pain.

Medications can be taken at the first signs of the outbreak (tingling, itching, and other symptoms) to reduce symptoms. People who have outbreaks may also be given medications to reduce the likelihood of future outbreaks.

Home Care

Use mild cleansers while bathing or showering in warm water. Keep the infected area clean and dry. Wear loose cotton clothing to keep the area comfortable.

What Should I Know If I’m Pregnant and Have Genital Herpes?

It’s normal to be worried about your baby’s health when you have an STI.

If you have an active outbreak during a vaginal delivery, genital herpes can spread to your baby. It is important to tell your doctor that you have genital herpes as soon as you find out you are pregnant.

Your doctor will discuss what to expect before, during and after you deliver your baby. They can recommend pregnancy-safe treatments to ensure a healthy birth. They may also choose to deliver your baby by cesarean section.

Genital herpes can also cause pregnancy complications such as miscarriage or premature birth.

Notes for Genital Herpes

You should have protected sex and use a condom every time you have sex with someone. This will help prevent the spread of genital herpes and other STIs.

There is no cure for genital herpes, but it can be treated with medication. The disease remains dormant in your body until something triggers the epidemic. Outbreaks can occur when you are stressed, sick, or tired. Your doctor will help you develop a treatment plan to help manage your outbreaks.

Source: Healthline, Genital Herpes, 2017.

References:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2017). Genital herpes — CDC fact sheet (detailed) [Fact sheet].
    cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes-detailed.htm
  • Herpes signs and symptoms. (n.d.).
    ashasexualhealth.org/stdsstis/herpes/signs-symptoms/
  • Herpes simplex virus (cold sores). (2017).
    healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/skin/pages/Herpes-Simplex-Virus-Cold-Sores.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR%3a+No+local+ token
  • Koren M, et al. (2016). Genital herpes. DOI:
    10.1016/j.disamonth.2016.03.013

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