Genital Herpes - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Genital Herpes - Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STI) that causes sores and fluid-filled bumps around the vagina that can sometimes burst open to ooze liquid.

It occurs in around 16% of people under the age bracket of 14 to 49 years.

Genital herpes causes

Usually, there are two types of the herpes simplex virus that causes the infection:

  • HSV-1 - This is the less common type that usually causes cold sores around the mouth, but can transfer to the genitals during oral sex. It is usually spread through direct skin contact.
  • HSV-2 - This infection is more common, causing genital herpes. It spreads through sexual or direct skin contact and is highly communicable with or without the appearance of cold sores.
  • The virus generally enters the body through the mucous membranes lining the nose, mouth or vagina. After entering the body, the virus rests in the nerve cells around the pelvis.

    Symptoms of genital herpes

    The initial symptoms of the infection may include:

    • Fever
    • Body or muscle aches
    • Lymph nodes that get swollen

    When blisters appear, it is known as an ‘outbreak’. The symptoms usually include painful blisters that may be accompanied by a burning or tingling sensation. The sores usually appear around the:

    • Vagina
    • Anus
    • Buttocks
    • Mouth
    • Lips
    • Face

    The blisters forming may:

    • Transform into open sores and start oozing fluids
    • Become crusts within a week from their appearance

    What are the treatment options?

    The virus itself has no cure and once it enters the body, it lasts for a lifetime and outbreaks can be recurrent in nature. There are, however, treatment options available for the said outbreaks.

  • Medications - Usually, antiviral drugs are used to treat the sores and take care of the symptoms including itching, tingling and burning sensations.
  • Home remedies - Mild cleansers can be used during baths and loose cotton clothing can keep the affected area comfortable from friction.

  • How to prevent genital herpes?

    The prevention options are similar to most other STIs:

    • Have limited partners who are infection-free.
    • Use a condom every time.
    • Avoid sex with a partner who has an outbreak in the genital or any other area.

    Dealing with genital herpes during pregnancy

    Genital herpes, if transmitted to the baby during delivery can cause blindness, brain damage or even death. To the mother, there is a risk of miscarriage or premature delivery. The doctor may suggest pregnancy-safe treatments to ensure a healthy vaginal delivery, or they may also suggest cesarean delivery which is a safer option in the case of a genital herpes outbreak in the mother.

    Related Articles

    Leave a comment

    Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.