Sooo….what’s genital herpes again?
Herpes is caused by a virus. It is a fairly common infection that causes sores on the genital area or in the mouth.
Type 1 Herpes is the virus responsible for lesions or sores on the lips or inside the mouth, often called « cold sores ». However, other germs can also cause cold sores.
Type 2 Herpes, or genital Herpes, is responsible for sores on the skin or mucous membranes (inside lining) of the genitals or anus.
It is important to know that it is possible to have type 1 Herpes on the genitals or type 2 herpes on the mouth. For example, it is possible to catch type 1 Herpes on your genitals if you engage in oral sex with someone who has a cold sore.
Some people will only have one Herpes episode. For others, the lesions will come back from time to time, without being infected again. These episodes are usually more frequent at first, and then they tend to come back less often as time goes by. Generally, the first episode is more painful than the following ones. In fact, the virus stays hidden in the body and activates itself from time to time. You can infect someone else while the lesions are visible and a few days before they appear.
Symptoms usually appear from 3 to 12 days after being infected.
How is it detected, treated and prevented?
Symptoms are different from one person to another. At first, Herpes will cause small blisters that will blow up to form small ulcers that dry out and leave a scab. These very painful ulcers last anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, and will eventually heal themselves.
Typical areas affected by Herpes…
For Women :
- Inside the vagina
- Near the anus
For Men :
- Near the anus
If it happens to me, what do I do?
A visit to the STD clinic or to the doctor’s office, where an examination and some tests will be done, is the only way to diagnose Herpes. A variety of tests can detect Herpes with a sample from the skin, or from the vagina, anus or mouth. These samples are taken with a swab (looks like a long Q-tip). But the diagnosis is usually made simply by examining the lesions. LINK WITH STI’SIf it happens to me, what do I do?
There is no cure that will eliminate Herpes completely, but there are medications available that can shorten the episode or decrease the pain. But you need to take the medication early when the symptoms appear.
A tips for pain relief…apply a moist towel on the affected area and use painkillers.
It is important to inform you partner or partners if you have become infected. This infection has some consequences and transmission should be prevented.
Herpes is caught by being in direct contact with sores. Condoms are not entirely effective against Herpes because some of the possible infected areas are not protected by the condom.
Even when there are no visible sores, the virus is said to be inactive but it can still be transmitted at times.
To know the best ways to protect yourself or your partner against Herpes, ask your physician or nurse. Use of the condom, however, remains a must.
What are the possible complications?
For many, Herpes is not a serious health threat. However, Herpes can have important consequences.
First, the infection can come back without you being exposed to the infection again. These episodes are troublesome and unpleasant. Furthermore, it is very difficult to know when an episode will come back. Since the virus can be transmitted a few days before symptoms or ulcers appear, risk of contagion is constant. So, use of condom for each sexual intercourse is a must.
Furthermore, genital Herpes can cause complications when a mother deliver her baby. The baby can catch the infection on the way out the uterus. The baby can then have a severe infection and brain damage.
Like the Human Papilloma Virus, the Herpes virus can cause changes in the cells of the cervix that can lead to a cancer during adulthood. It is therefore recommended to have regular Pap tests to carefully monitor these changes.