Genital Herpes - C.I.P.H.I

Genital Herpes

What is Genital Herpes?

Genital herpes
Sores of Genital Herpes Looks Like

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of herpes simplex virus, type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). Genital herpes is usually caused by HSV-2, but can also be caused by HSV-1. Symptoms include painful sores or blisters in the genital area, itching or burning sensation in the genitals, and flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and muscle aches. There is no cure for genital herpes, but antiviral medications can help to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks. Preventing the spread of the virus to others through safe sex practices is important.

Some people with genital herpes may have mild or no symptoms at all, but still, they are able to transmit the infection to their sexual partners. The pain, itching and sores may extend to the anus and mouth. The type of herpes that develops around the mouth is known as mouth herpes. The type of herpes affecting the mouth is caused by HSV 1, while herpes affecting the genital region is caused by HSV 2. HSV 1 is transmitted by oral contact like kissing, while HSV 2 is transmitted through sexual contact.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes

The symptoms of genital herpes can vary greatly from person to person. Some people may have no symptoms at all, while others may have severe outbreaks. Generally, the symptoms appear 2 to 12 days after exposure to the virus. Common symptoms include:

  • Sores or blisters on or around the genitals or rectum
  • Itching or tingling in the affected area
  • Pain or discomfort during urination
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the groin
  • Fever or flu-like symptoms
  • Discharge from Urethra (Urethra is the tube which excretes urine from the bladder)
  • Discharge from Vagina.

Symptoms at the initial stage

The initial symptoms look like that of the flu, for example, headache, body pain, swollen lymph nodes, and fever.

It is important to note that some people may not experience any symptoms during an initial outbreak, but may still be able to transmit the virus to others. Additionally, some people may have recurrent outbreaks, which can be triggered by stress, illness, or other factors.

Spread of the sores

Initially, sores appear on the area affected by the infection. Herpes sores can be transmitted from one part of the body to another through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected area. This can occur when the virus is active and there are visible sores or through contact with an infected person’s saliva, semen, vaginal fluids, or skin. Herpes can also be transmitted through contact with an object that has the virus on it, such as a towel or razor. It is important to practice safe hygiene and avoid direct contact with herpes sores or the bodily fluids of an infected person to prevent the spread of the virus.

Types of Herpes Virus

There are two main types of herpes: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).

HSV-1 is commonly known as oral herpes, as it typically causes cold sores and fever blisters on or around the mouth. It can also cause sores on the face and eyes.

HSV-2 is commonly known as genital herpes, as it typically causes sores on or around the genitals and anus. It can also cause sores on the thighs, buttocks, and lower back.

Both types of herpes can cause similar symptoms, such as itching, pain, and burning sensations. They can also cause fever, fatigue, and swollen lymph nodes.

It is important to note that either type of herpes can be transmitted to either the oral or genital area through oral or genital sex. So, it’s important to be aware of the symptoms and take precautions to prevent the transmission of herpes.

Causes of Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of herpes simplex virus, type 1 (HSV-1) and type 2 (HSV-2). Both types can cause genital herpes, but HSV-2 is the most common cause of genital herpes.

HSV-1 is typically associated with oral herpes, but it can also cause genital herpes through oral-genital contact. HSV-2 is primarily responsible for genital herpes, but it can also cause oral herpes through genital-oral contact.

Genital herpes is transmitted through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can also be transmitted through skin-to-skin contacts, such as touching or kissing an infected area.

The virus can be transmitted even when there are no visible symptoms, making it difficult to prevent transmission. People with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV, are at a higher risk of contracting genital herpes.

In addition, some risk factors for genital herpes include having multiple sexual partners, having a history of other sexually transmitted infections, and having unprotected sex.

Risk Factors of Genital Herpes

You may be at higher risk for Genital Herpes if you have the following conditions;

  1. Unprotected sexual activity: Having unprotected sex, either vaginal, anal or oral, increases the risk of contracting genital herpes as well as other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) such as syphilis, gonorrhoea, and chlamydia. It is important to practice safe sex and use condoms or other forms of protection to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading STIs.
  2. Multiple sexual partners:  Multiple sex partners can increase the risk of contracting herpes, as the virus can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person. The more partners a person has, the greater the chance of being exposed to the virus. Additionally, not knowing the sexual history of partners and not using protection, such as condoms, can also increase the risk of contracting herpes. It is important to practice safe sex and communicate openly with partners about sexual history and health to reduce the risk of contracting herpes and other sexually transmitted infections.
  3. Previous history of herpes: Individuals who have previously had herpes, whether oral or genital, are at a higher risk of contracting genital herpes. Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) which can be contracted through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected person. Once a person is infected with the virus, it remains in the body for life and can reactivate at any time, causing outbreaks of symptoms such as sores or blisters on or around the genitals or mouth. If a person has had herpes in the past, they are more likely to experience recurrent outbreaks in the future.
  4. Weak immune system: Having a weak immune system can make it more difficult for the body to fight off herpes infections. This can lead to more frequent and severe outbreaks. Additionally, people with weakened immune systems may be more likely to experience complications from herpes, such as severe or prolonged outbreaks.To help manage herpes and boost the immune system, it is important to maintain good overall health through a balanced diet, regular exercise, and stress management. Additionally, individuals with weakened immune systems may benefit from taking supplements or vitamins that support immune function, such as vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc.
  5. Age and Gender:Young people and women are at higher risk of herpes because:
    • Young people are more likely to engage in risky sexual behaviour, such as unprotected sex and multiple sexual partners, which increases the likelihood of contracting herpes.
    • Women have a higher risk of contracting herpes due to the anatomy of the female genital area, which makes it easier for the virus to enter the body.
    • Women may also be more likely to experience symptoms of herpes due to hormonal changes during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
    • Women who are pregnant may also be at a higher risk of passing the virus to their unborn child, which can lead to serious health complications.
    • Young people and women may also be less likely to seek medical attention for herpes due to the stigma and shame associated with the condition. This can make it more difficult to diagnose and treat herpes, which can lead to more severe symptoms and complications.
  6. Skin-to-skin contact: Skin-to-skin contact with someone who has herpes can increase the risk of contracting the virus. Herpes is most commonly spread through direct contact with an open sore, such as a blister or ulcer, on the skin or mucous membranes. This can happen through sexual contact, kissing, or close contact with someone who has the virus.
  7. Stress: Prolonged stress can cause herpes outbreaks as it can weaken the immune system, making it more susceptible to viral infections. Stress can also trigger the release of certain hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, which can disrupt the balance of the body and make it more vulnerable to herpes outbreaks. Additionally, stress can cause changes in the body that can lead to the activation of the herpes virus, such as changes in the skin or the immune system.
  8. Smoking:  Smoking can increase the risk of contracting herpes. Studies have shown that smokers are more likely to develop herpes outbreaks than non-smokers. This is because smoking can weaken the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to fight off the virus.
  9. Genetics: Some studies have suggested that genetics may also play a role in the development of genital herpes.

Complications of Genital Herpes

Herpes is a highly contagious disease, which easily transmits from one individual to another. Herpes needs timely treatment. It can cause several complications if left untreated. Here are some complications associated with HSV.

  1. Neonatal herpes: This occurs when a mother with genital herpes transmits the virus to her newborn during delivery. This can lead to serious complications such as brain damage, blindness, and even death.
  2. Encephalitis: This is a rare but serious complication of genital herpes, where the virus infects the brain and causes inflammation. Symptoms include fever, headache, and confusion.
  3. Meningitis: This is an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms include fever, headache, and stiff neck.
  4. Disseminated herpes: This occurs when the herpes virus spreads to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, liver, or skin. Symptoms include fever, rash, and organ failure.
  5. Recurrent outbreaks: People with genital herpes may experience recurrent outbreaks of the virus, which can cause pain, itching, and discomfort.
  6. Psychological effects: Living with genital herpes can also have psychological effects, such as depression, anxiety, and social isolation. Overall, it is important to consult with a medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment if experiencing any symptoms.

When to See the Doctor

As herpes can transmit very rapidly, therefore, if you suspect the infection, you need prompt medication and treatment. Your healthcare provider can diagnose and suggest accurate medications, and prevent complications.

Diagnosis of Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is typically diagnosed through a physical examination and testing of the affected area. The healthcare provider will look for characteristic symptoms, such as small red or white blisters, sores, or ulcers in the genital area. They may also take a sample of fluid or tissue from the sore to test for the herpes simplex virus (HSV).

There are two types of tests that can be used to diagnose genital herpes:

  1. Viral culture test: This test involves taking a sample of fluid from a blister or sore and growing it in a lab to see if the virus is present. This test can take several days to get results.
  2. PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test: This test involves taking a small sample of blood and looking for the genetic material (DNA) of the herpes virus. This test can give results in a few hours.

It’s important to note that while these tests can confirm the presence of the herpes virus, they cannot distinguish between HSV-1 and HSV-2. Therefore, a positive test result could mean that the person has either type of herpes.

In some cases, a healthcare provider may diagnose genital herpes based on symptoms alone, without the need for a test. However, it’s important to get a proper diagnosis to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms and to ensure appropriate treatment.

Treatment of Genital Herpes

There is no special treatment for herpes including genital herpes. At the time of its initial outbreak, there are some medications to heal the sore and relieve the pain and inflammation. These medicines can be used to heal the infection soon, reduce inflammation and pain, reduce the chances of recurrence, and limits the transmission of infection. These medicines include;

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax): Acyclovir is used to treat herpes simplex virus infections, including genital herpes, cold sores, and shingles (herpes zoster).
  • Famciclovir: Famciclovir is used to treat both oral and genital herpes caused by HSV-1 and HSV-2. Moreover, it can effectively prevent the recurrence of the infection.
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex): Valacyclovir is used to treat herpes simplex virus (HSV) infections, including genital herpes and cold sores. It also helps to prevent herpes outbreaks in people with a history of recurrent infections.

How to manage Genital Herpes by yourself?

There is currently no cure for genital herpes, and diagnosis of genital herpes may cause embarrassment, shame, anger or other strong emotions. You may be suspicious or resentful of your partner. Or you might be worried about rejection by your current partner or future partners. But the condition can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes.

Healthy ways to cope with having genital herpes include the following:

  1. Medication: Antiviral medications such as acyclovir, valacyclovir, and famciclovir can help to reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks.
  2. Lifestyle changes: Practicing safe sex and avoiding triggers such as stress, fatigue, and sunlight can help to prevent outbreaks.
  3. Keep the infected area clean and dry: Clean the area with mild soap and water, and dry it thoroughly. Avoid tight-fitting clothing over the infected area.
  4. Avoid touching the sores: Touching the sores can spread the virus to other parts of the body or to other people.
  5. Practice good hygiene: Wash your hands frequently and avoid sharing personal items such as towels or razors.

It is important to consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. They will help you to determine the best course of action for managing your condition.