What is Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. This leads to painful blisters on the genitals and is generally passed via sexual activity. Genital herpes is a chronic (long-term) condition because the virus remains in your body and can become active again.
What are the Symptoms of Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes can manifest itself in the following symptoms:
- Painful blisters on the genitals
- Soreness, itching or stinging in the genital area
- Flu-like symptoms such as fever and tiredness
- Pain when urinating
What Causes Genital Herpes?
Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) type 1 and type 2. The virus is highly contagious and usually transmitted by having vaginal, anal or oral sex with an infected person. However, you won’t know if a person is infected as there are often no outward symptoms.
The virus enters the body through the skin or soft lining (mucous membranes) of the vagina, rectum, mouth or urethra.
The condition can remain dormant for long periods. After infection symptoms may appear days, weeks, months or even years later. Certain triggers can activate the condition leading to an outbreak of genital herpes. The first episode is usually the most painful. Recurrent bouts are often milder.
How can I treat Genital Herpes?
The first time you have genital herpes you should consult a doctor who will prescribe antiviral tablets. These work by stopping the virus from multiplying but will not completely clear it from your body. Avoid having sex until all the blisters have cleared up and use a condom thereafter to prevent infecting others.
If your herpes reoccurs, your GP may prescribe antiviral tablets again or, in mild cases, suggest home treatment.
Are there Alternative Remedies & Treatments for Genital Herpes?
For a recurrent but mild outbreak, you should keep the area clean using water or saltwater, apply an ice pack to soothe pain, use petroleum jelly or an anaesthetic cream (available over-the-counter) on the blisters to dull the pain when you wee and drink plenty of fluids to dilute your urine.