ABOUT Genital Herpes - Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment
What Is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is an infection that causes painful genital ulcers. It can also cause vaginal or penile lesions in some infected people. A person who has the virus that causes genital herpes continues to have outbreaks of sores following periods of not being symptomatic.
Some people have infrequent outbreaks, while others have frequent outbreaks. First-time symptoms are often more severe than subsequent episodes."
Genital herpes is caused by 2 types of viruses: HSV-1 and HSV-2, which are transmitted to somebody else through close contact with skin lesions on the mouth or genitals. When this happens, the virus may be spread from one part of your body to another.
Genital herpes may cause a few or many symptoms. They can include:
HSV-1 causes sores that occur on the genitals and around the rectum, vagina, and anus. HSV-2 causes sores around the mouth or genitals.
Treatment is based on whether or not there are any symptoms present other than the history of the outbreak. If you have no signs of infection, you might not need treatment at all.
The herpes simplex viruses infect skin cells that line your body's cells. The viruses enter the skin cells and then cause them to multiply by turning on genes that increase cell division. Skin cells that have been infected multiply into many lesions.
The virus that causes genital herpes can also cause symptoms in the genitals of a person who does not have any symptoms of the infection.
Symptoms include itching, burning, and swollen painful vulvar or vaginal parts. In some people, herpes sores may also occur on the cervix or anus.
If you have symptoms or know you have herpes, tell your doctor so these lesions can be treated.
When a lesion occurs on the mouth or genitals, a swab from the sore is collected and tested for the herpes simplex virus. The tests can also be used to help confirm someone has genital herpes.
The tests do not confirm that the virus causing an infection is HSV-2 (the virus that causes genital herpes). They determine whether or not you have antibodies to HSV-2.
Antibodies are substances produced by your body's immune system in response to an infection. When you have HSV-2, your body produces antibodies and they indicate that you may have been infected with this virus in the past.
If you have genital herpes, the sores can be treated with antiviral medicines. To fight the infection, your doctor may prescribe an antiviral medicine.
The medicine is intended to prevent the virus from multiplying and producing more sores that cause pain or other symptoms.
You may start taking the medicine when you feel that a herpes outbreak is coming on. If you are with someone who has genital herpes, this may be when they are about to have an outbreak so they will notice it earlier than you would.
The treatment can help prevent or reduce how severe any symptoms are after contact with the infected person occurs. You should not take the medicine if you are already having an outbreak.
The number of lesions you have, how long they have been there, and their severity is important when determining which medicine to use.
Your doctor can determine which antiviral medicine will work best for your situation. Several different medicines that fight HSV are available. All of them are prescription medicines.
Outbreaks of genital herpes can recur, but medicines can help prevent or lessen their severity and frequency.
Most people who have genital herpes get between four and seven outbreaks each year. The first outbreak may be the worst, but over time future outbreaks tend to cause less pain and discomfort.
Frequently Asked Questions On Genital Herpes
Are There Any Side Effects From Taking The Medication? How Will I Know If I React To The Medication?
In general, most people who take antiviral medicines for genital herpes do not have side effects. However, some people may experience only mild or no side effects. Most people who take these medicines do not develop drug interactions, but it is possible.
If you experience severe side effects like rashes, hives, stomach upset, nausea, vomiting, headaches, chills, dizziness, or difficulty breathing that occur anytime after starting your medicine or need medical treatment for any of these complications, stop taking the medicine and call your doctor immediately.
These may be signs of a serious drug allergy and you should not take the medicine again. Even if you do not have any symptoms, your doctor will need to monitor you for any side effects while you are taking the medicine because some people who take these medicines may develop severe side effects, such as problems with their liver.
Why Can't I Just Take Over-The-Counter (OTC) Pain Medication Like Aspirin Or Acetaminophen?
If it is caused by HSV-1 (such as cold sores), then taking aspirin or other pain relievers will not help. For either herpes 1 or herpes 2, other medications that help to relieve symptoms should be used.