How to recognise, diagnose and cure genital herpes: from the early symptoms to the most recent drugs

  STI Treatment

What is Genital Herpes?

Genital Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). It is closely related to the viral strains which cause chickenpox, shingles, and cold sores. While some people like to a make a firm distinction between HSV-1 (which typically affects an individual orally) and HSV-2 (which is more commonly seen around the genitals and anus) both types can spread to either location, meaning that it isn’t strictly relevant which of the two strains an individual comes into contact with. Roughly 10% of Australian adults have Genital Herpes.


Diagnosing Genital Herpes

Many individuals who are infected with Genital Herpes show no signs or symptoms, and may not even be aware that they are at risk of passing this condition along to sexual partners! When symptoms do appear, it is usually shortly after the initial infection and women are much more likely than men to develop the characteristic blisters which healthcare providers typically assess to diagnose the condition.

In mild cases the painful, fluid-filled blisters may be completely absent and there may be a general itchiness or redness of the genitalia which is easily misdiagnosed as a yeast infection. Unfortunately the most common yeast infection treatment – which often consists of an antifungal cream – may actually moisten the area and increase the risk of a full-blown Herpes outbreak, which is then more contagious.

Genital Herpes outbreaks may occur several times per year, though typically this only happens when the body is adjusting to a new infection or the patient has a compromised immune system. Other people never show a single sign or symptom. Most people go several months or even years in between outbreaks, and when they occur they are usually brought on by menstruation, childbirth, a temporarily compromised immune system, or irritation to the genitals which results in broken skin.


Genital Herpes Treatments

In the midst of a painful outbreak, it is best to keep the affected area clean and dry. This means washing thoroughly, using a clean towel (and then laundering it!) and if possible, getting some airflow to the genitals in order to dry the sores out as quickly as possible. Using a hairdryer on the ‘cool’ setting can work wonders. Those with bathtubs may want to consider soaking in a salt bath, while others may find it helpful to take a swim in the ocean.

If the sores are very painful, a numbing cream such as Orajel may help (applied while wearing gloves). Women who find urination painful may seek relief by holding a ball of toilet paper against their urethra while relieving themselves in order to prevent their urine’s ammonia from further irritating their sores. Luckily for men, they typically do not develop sores and when they do, it is generally on their outer skin and not the delicate mucous membranes.

Physicians will often prescribe Acyclovir to manage an outbreak, and in some cases to prevent against future outbreaks if they occur frequently or there is a sexual relationship where one individual has the infection and the other does not. Valacyclovir, while more expensive, is much more effective and taking a Valtrex pill creates a level of antiviral protection only matched by intravenous injection of Acyclovir, so for those who can afford the price difference it is certainly worth looking into.


Safer Sex with Herpes

Unlike Chlamydia or Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes is not present only within bodily fluids, because it may also be spread by skin-to-skin contact. This means that even using a condom will not offer complete protection, especially if there are sores present on the skin of the groin, abdomen, or thighs.

Even when no sores are present, an infected individual may be doing ‘asymptomatic shedding’ and still pass on HSV to their partner.

Since the Herpes virus can reside in either the mouth or the genitals, even oral sex can spread this STI from one person to another. For that reason, it is advisable to use condoms or dental dams when one person is affected by Herpes and the other is not.

The Silent STD: How Genetal Herpes can exist without symptoms

  STI Treatment

How Does Genital Herpes Affect Australians

Herpes is something we have all heard of. Those who have it probably hate when it flares up and they get those annoying sores around there mouth for a little while. But sadly for some, there is something a little bit worse than having herpes of the mouth. You can also contract genital herpes if you are not careful in practicing safe sex with random partners. We will be discussing Genital Herpes in this article and what kinds of action you can take to help ease this burden you may have. To put this in perspective firstly remember that there are many kinds of Sexually Transmitted Diseases out in the world.

What is genital herpes

Yes genital herpes is one of these STDS, and that you could catch any of them at any time after sexual intercourse. Now couple that with the face that roughly 16% of the worlds population between the ages of 14 to 49 have a form of this specific STD. And that’s just ONE STD. If that isn’t enough to help encourage you to, at the very least, practice safe sex then hopefully the rest of this informational will. There are two different types of herpes your body is known to contract, HSV-1 which accounts for those cold sores that we mentioned earlier, and HSV-2 this one is Genital Herpes. If you get Genital herpes, it makes itself nice and comfortable in your pelvic cells where it can grow and adapt to it’s surroundings. HSV-2 can enter into your body from the thin layers of tissue that lines the openings of your body. If you happen to get any saliva, semen, or vaginal secretions containing the virus on those openings you are basically begging to be a carrier.

How can you get it

Now let us assume that you went ahead, had a great one night stand, and it’s the next day. How would you even know that “caught” genital herpes from someone else? well the short is that you simply will not know that information right away. Genital Herpes can take anywhere from two up to thirty days before you even begin to experience any symptoms or have your first “outbreak”. This will be the time where you begin to notice the blisters, and yes it is as painful as it sounds, blister around your penis, vagina, scrotum, buttocks, I mean you get the picture you know where your genital area is I am sure. You can also actually end up with this form of herpes in your mouth and get the same kinds of blisters on your mouth and face.

If you happen to be the generous type who had their mouth in contact with any of these secretions then there is always the chance so be careful even in this area if you are under the impression that your face is somehow immune to genital herpes since the name can be a bit misleading in that regard. 

How to care for symptoms

The area of infection may also begin to itch. In fact, it most likely will but DO NOT scratch if you can at all help it. These blisters or ulcers will ooze, and if you accidentally touch another open spot in your body without washing your hands then you can spread the virus around liberally. You may also experience very cold and flu like symptoms such as aches, pains, fevers, headaches, etc. This is from your body trying to fight off the virus like it does so many others. If you find yourself experiencing any of these issues it is important to talk to your doctor about it. It is already bad enough, and it will not go away on it’s own, so there is no sense in not getting it checked out as soon as possible anyway. If the conclusion from your doctor is that this is indeed what you have, then they will discuss your treatment options: Valtrex, Famvir or just acyclovir cream.

Follow doctor’s orders

It is important to note that you can do yourself some favors here by keeping the area clean and dry, loose clothing and cotton are good for assisting in this process. Make sure that you also take warm baths and avoid using cleaning agents that might otherwise damage the area. There is no cure for genital herpes, but your doctor can also prescribe medicines to help with the itching, sores, and pain. So again, talk to your doctor and get on the right tract to living a normal life again.