Genital herpes is a viral infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). While some people are asymptomatic, most patients infected with the disease will develop the characteristic lesions on their genitals. These lesions typically form in clusters and resemble cold sores or blisters. They are 1 to 3 mm in size, filled with clear or yellowish fluid, red or pink in appearance, and may be tender to the touch.
In women, the lesions may appear on:
In men, the lesions can appear on:
- inside the urethra
- on the head
- sides of the penis
In both sexes, the lesions can erupt in or around:
After a few days, the blisters will rupture and ooze fluid or bleed. Scabs form shortly afterwards and the sores eventually heal.
About the Virus
The virus goes through periods of activity and remissions. When the virus activates, it travels through the nerves to the infected surface of the skin and produce genital sores. A person with genital herpes is highly contagious while the virus is active in his or her body. Once the episode passes, the virus returns to the ganglion where it lies dormant for a period of time.
The first year a person has the disease, he or she may experience multiple outbreaks of genital herpes. As time goes by, however, the number of outbreaks generally decreases in frequency. Though there is medication available that can reduce or eliminate outbreaks, there is no cure for genital herpes, and even though a person may not develop sores when the virus is active in his or her body, it is still possible for him or her to spread the virus to another person.
How is Herpes Contracted?
This is the first question many people who are diagnosed with herpes ask. The primary way a person contracts genital herpes is through sexual contact with an infected partner. As noted before, a person is highly contagious when the sores are present on the body. If you are intimate with someone who has the disease during this time, then you are likely to get it too.
Alternatively, you can become infected by coming into contact with bodily fluids that contain an active virus. This includes urine and saliva, particularly if these fluids come in contact with open wounds or sores. However, the virus can live outside the body for only a very short period of time. Therefore, you are not likely to become infected from a toilet seat or a bath tub.
To avoid getting herpes, you should avoid contact with infected persons. However, not all people who are affected with the virus display symptoms so you should always practice safe sex. Although no contraceptive is foolproof, using condoms during penetrative sex and dental dams during oral sex has proven to be an effective way to prevent the transmission of disease between sexual partners.
It is also important to get tested for STDs at regular intervals. Early diagnosis of herpes can go a long way towards helping you manage the disease and avoid infecting others.
Herpes is a virus, which means there currently is no cure for the disease unfortunately. Herpes treatment focuses on reducing the frequency and severity of outbreaks. There are a number of medications available for treat genital herpes. However, prescription drugs may cause unwanted and unpleasant side effects such as general malaise, headache, nausea, and diarrhea. We looked around and found a few remedies that are fairly effective at reducing or eliminating the sores associated with genital herpes. You can learn about them on the homepage