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Diseases & Conditions

Genital Herpes

Genital HerpesCausesMedicationsPreventionRisk FactorsSymptomsTreatmentTypes

What is Genital Herpes?

Genital Herpes is a high infectious viral disease which causes small ulcers around the groin area. It is incurable but the outbreaks can be controlled through proper medication and minimising symptoms.

Causes of Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes spreads whenever there is direct contact with a person having it. The Herpes Simplex Virus spreads through oral sex and also sexual intercourse. It spreads through skin contact too. Genital Herpes is a difficult disease to contain because more often than not the carrier of this virus will not realise it themselves as they will not show any visible symptoms at all i.e. visible sores etc. But in their case too genital herpes is very contagious which could cause other outbreaks.

Medications for Genital Herpes

Although genital herpes is incurable, taking medications for it lessens the period of the infection’s initial outbreak. It is also effective in lowering the chances of a relapse. There are good chances too that even if it recurrs it will not be severe in nature as the first outbreak. The anti-viral drugs that are prescribed for Genital Herpes come in different price ranges but they should all be taken for at least seven to ten days. If after ten days the doctor is not satisfied with the patient’s progress he may extend the therapy for as long as necessary. Some of the medications prescribed are famciclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex) among others.

In order to prevent the outbreak of genital herpes it is best to start medications as soon as the first signs appear. Medications are prescribed for a minimum of five days. Those who have frequent recurrences like over six a year have to take daily medications. This treatment which is called suppressive therapy is effective in controlling such recurrences in about seventy to eighty percent of the infected patients.

Prevention of Genital Herpes

Safe sexual habits like not having too many sex partners should be practised by all. One should also try not to get sexually active at a very young age. Since genital herpes is highly contagious it is very difficult to control an outbreak. If one has some kind of sores they should avoid sexual contact with someone else completely till the sores are investigated and their source is known. Condoms cannot prevent the spread of genital herpes. People who have contracted genital herpes will always be a potential threat to a healthy person even if they are under medication. Hence an infected person should always use condoms to lower the risk of spreading genital herpes to someone else.

Risk factors of Genital Herpes

  • If one becomes sexual active early on in life at a very young age.
  • Practising unprotected sex.
  • Having many sexual partners.
  • Having unprotected sex with an infected person
  • Male homosexuality
  • Someone who is sexually active for a long time.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes

Symptoms of genital herpes appear in two stages, the first outbreak will result in:

  • Headache and muscle ache.
  • Fever
  • Unexplainable discharge through the penis and vagina
  • Difficulty or experiencing pain while urinating.
  • Lymph nodes which are glands that are swollen in the genital area.

After these symptoms disappear in the first stage the other developmental stage of Genital Herpes begins in the following manner:

  • Appearance of small areas that may be red, painful, sensitive, or itchy.
  • These begin to swell up
  • They start forming blisters that are filled with fluid.
  • The blisters then open up into sores that are quite painful
  • They dry up to form scabs underneath which new skin tissue grows.

Treatment for Genital Herpes

  • Avoid too much of heat and sunlight.
  • Avoid using perfumed/ antibacterial soaps/douches and female deodorants.
  • Wear cotton clothing which is free flowing and comfortable.
  • Using cool cloths on the area that is affected helps.
  • Use pain killers like Tylenol if they find it helpful.

Types of Genital Herpes

The two types of Genital Herpes are:

  • HSV-1 causes fever blisters around the mouth and within and spreads from one person to the next through the act of kissing. It can also in a few cases, cause infections through the act of oral sex.
  • HSV-2 is the cause of most Genital Herpes infections.