Genital herpes is a viral infection characterized by open sores on the genital area. It is a sexually transmitted disease, which affects both men and women. It is estimated that nearly 45 million Americans suffer from this infection. To make matters worse, many people with genital herpes do not experience signs of the disease.
Genital herpes causes
The herpes simplex virus is associated with this bothersome infection. There are two strains of the herpes simplex virus – HSV-1 and HSV-2. Majority of genital herpes cases are caused by HSV-2. Occasionally, HSV-1, which is primarily linked to oral herpes or cold sores, could lead to genital herpes through oral sex. This highly contagious disease is spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with a person suffering from the disease. Incidence of genital herpes is usually higher among people with multiple sex partners.
Genital herpes symptoms
Genital herpes appear as small blisters. After a few days, the blisters form open sores or ulcers. In women, the blisters or ulcers may be present outside the vagina. Lesions occurring inside the vagina produce abnormal vaginal discharge. In men, the blisters develop on the penis or around it. The herpes sores might develop around the anus or inside it. A genital herpes outbreak usually lasts for about 2 to 4 weeks. Painful blisters, fever, painful urination, body ache, headache and inflammation of the lymph nodes present in the groin are common symptoms of the infection. The first genital herpes outbreak is the most painful. Later outbreaks tend to be less painful.
Genital herpes treatment
Genital herpes is a chronic disease. Although the frequency of the infection decreases overtime, medications currently available could not provide a permanent solution to the problem. Genital herpes patients could take pain relief medications to reduce the pain. People suffering from genital herpes should not used perfumed soaps and douches for cleaning the genital area.
Women with genital herpes should avoid scented sanitary napkins. Always wear loose fitted cotton undergarments. Recurrent genital herpes infection could be prevented by strengthening the immune system. Vitamin C and zinc supplements could inhibit the activities of the herpes virus. The irritation and pain caused by the herpes sores could be treated with aloe vera gel and lemon balm.