What is Genital Herpes?

Published: September 24, 2020

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus, of which there are two strands – HSV-1 and HSV-2. As well as triggering symptoms in the genital region, the virus can also affect skin on the face, causing cold sores, which usually develop around the mouth and nose. It can also lead to whitlows, which appear on the hands.

How is it passed on?

The herpes simplex virus is extremely contagious. It is passed on through skin-to-skin contact, especially during vaginal, anal or oral sex. The virus is usually found on the moist skin lining the genitals, according to the NHS. It can also enter the body through small cracks in the skin, the BBC adds.

Becoming infected through other objects, however, is very unlikely due to the virus’ short life span outside the body. So it is safe to share towels, cups and cuttlery with someone carrying HSV.

What are the symptoms?

Genital herpes sometimes takes a while to make itself known. The sufferer can go weeks, months or even years without symptoms while being infected. Otherwise, symptoms usually begin to appear 4 to 7 days after infection. According to the BBC, these can include:

  • Flu-like symptoms such as swollen glands, fever, headache and tiredness
  • Stinging and/or itching in the genital area
  • Painful red blisters around the external genital area, rectum, buttocks and thighs, which burst and leave sores
  • Pain when urine comes into contact with sores
  • Could also lead to depression and anxiety

How is it treated?

If a person suspects they have genital herpes, they are usually screened by their doctor, who can provide a diagnosis. The first outbreak is usually treated with antiviral tablets. Self-help treatments that may also help relieve symptoms include:

  • Wearing loose clothes
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Applying ice packs to the sores for an hour or so
  • Applying local anaesthetic cream
  • Taking warm, salted baths

The virus stays in the body even after the symptoms have passed. It lies dormant until it is reactivated, but until that point, the carrier is not infectious.

It is not exactly known what causes the virus to reactivate, but it is said that outbreaks tend to become less severe and less frequent as time passes. The NHS outlines several possible triggers, which may bring on another bout:

  • Friction during sexual intercourse
  • Stress and illness
  • Drinking excess amounts of alcohol

Click here to find out the best ways to treat cold sores and read more about sexually transmitted diseases Chlamydia, Gonorrhea and HIV/ AIDS.

Celebrities who reportedly carry the herpes virus include actors Robin Williams, David Hasselhoff and Liza Minnelli.

Also read about Jenna Jameson calling the porn industry a “ticking time bomb”, how a new vaginal gel could cut the risk of HIV infection and how Facebook may be the cause of a recent increase in syphilis cases.

Images: Wikimedia Commons

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Published September 24, 2020 by in Health Conditions
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18 Responses to “What is Genital Herpes?”

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  2. Suzzy

    24. Sep, 2010

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  15. jeffrobbin

    11. Apr, 2011

    Genital herpes caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 spreads through sexual contact, and more than 500 million people worldwide have the disorder. In the West 10-30% of the population carry the virus, making it one of the most widespread sexually transmitted infections. The virus causes painful sores and blisters in the genital area and, in rare cases, serious infections in the brain and spinal cord. The infection is for life and there are currently no cures or vaccines for genital herpes.But diagnosed with herpes does not mean the end of social life,you can meet new friends in STDfish.com, which have more than 600000 memebers according some news and it have provided many services such as chatting,blogs,test center,forum etc. Hope what I provided would be helpful.

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  16. Mary Tina

    22. Jul, 2011

    Hello my name is Mary Tina i was once a victim of the genital herpes i never believed that i can get a cure thanks to the herbs i got from an indian man who helped me out with it i know alot of people are suffering from these but if you are interested do get back to me on…….marytina25@gmail.com

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    Mary Tina

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