Genital Herpes is a condition caused by infection with a virus known as the herpes simplex virus (HSV), which can be passed from person to person through vaginal, anal, or oral sex. It causes small blisters in the infected area that can tingle, burn, or ich, around the genitals. There is no cure for genital herpes, but it can be managed.
The genital herpes virus remains in your system permanently once you have been infected. For a long period, it remains dormant in a nerve near your genital area. Occasionally it becomes active and causes a breakout: this is also when it is most likely to be spread to others.
Signs and Symptoms
It’s not always clear if you have genital herpes. If you suspect you do you should contact your GP or sexual health clinic. It’s important to know if you have the condition so you can treat it and be mindful of it with sexual partners. Look out for the signs and symptoms below.
Genital Herpes causes sores and blisters in your genital area. If you have itching in that area that is unreasonable or becomes painful, it might be an indication of HSV.
Small Red Bumps
One of the main signs of HSV is small red bumps around your genitals. These look and feel a lot like blisters and may itch. The herpes virus can be spread through skin to skin contact with these areas, so take extra care.
Tiny White Blisters
Tiny white blisters may be the first appearance of the HSV. When the virus starts to migrate from its dormant zone due to some kind of stimulus – it could be UV light or friction – it moves towards the skin’s surface. It will initially present as tiny white blisters.
Ulcers and Scabs
The white blisters will eventually turn to red wet sores until they heal and new skin forms. At this point, the virus will retreat to other parts of the body leaving ulcers and scabs.
What to Look for
The HSV usually presents as small white blisters around the genital areas. These will probably be accompanied by itching if you have the virus. Monitor these sores closely to see how they develop. You may also experience tingling, burning, vaginal discharge or painful peeing.
These signs and symptoms might appear for you even if you haven’t had sex for a long time. The HSV can remain dormant for months or even years making it more difficult to determine the cause of transfer. Contact your local sexual health clinic for more information or visit your GP or GUM clinic.
How can HSV be Managed?
There is no cure for HSV. Once you have the virus it will remain dormant in your system and present occasionally as blisters and sores. When it does present it is usually managed with antiviral medication and creams to reduce the symptoms.
If you have HSV it’s important that you contact your previous sexual partners and take measures to protect future partners from contracting the virus. Avoid sex if you have sores and use protection.
How to Treat Genital Herpes?
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