Because genital herpes is one of the most common types of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), it is important is to be aware of genital herpes symptoms to best protect yourself against the infection and to help you seek early treatment if you may have been exposed.
Teens are the most likely candidates to contract a herpes infection. Being aware of herpes symptoms and how to quickly treat the disease can help you manage the infection. Many times symptoms never show in an infected person. However, they can still transfer the infection to a partner who may end up exhibiting the symptoms. Transmission can also occur even if the infected person is not having an outbreak.
What is genital herpes?
- Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the herpes simplex virus.
- There are two different types of the herpes virus. One is the HSV-1 and the other is HSV-2. Most types of genital herpes infection are easily transferred by through the HSV-2 virus with genital to genital contact affecting only the genital regions.
- HSV-1 mostly causes cold sores and fever blisters on or around the mouth. However, HSV-1 can still be spread to the genitals during oral sex through secretions in a personâ€™s saliva.
- Unfortunately, there is no direct cure and genital herpes never completely goes away. Even though an infected person may not be showing symptoms, the virus is actually hiding away in the infected personâ€™s body in between outbreaks.
Herpes Signs & Symptoms:
- If a person does demonstrate physical symptoms, they will typically see about four to five outbreaks each year.
- Symptoms usually begin within the first two to three weeks after catching the infection.
- Herpes symptoms usually start out with itching or pain around the genital area followed by sores. These sores may appear on the vagina, penis, scrotum or anal region or buttocks.
- The sores start out as as red bumps that later turn into red, watery blisters that may open up and ooze puss and blood.
- Other symptoms might include fever-like symptoms including headache, body aches and swollen lymph nodes.
Herpes treatment options:
- There are a few types of treatments available although there is no way to completely cure herpes. It can be treated with medication to reduce the intensity of the herpes symptoms. Outbreaks may exhibit many of the same symptoms as when the person was first infected including sores and fever, but they will most likely be less severe and will not last as long.
- Anitviral medication may be prescribed to help control the genital herpes symptoms during outbreaks
- A doctor or physician can explain the best ways to keep the sores clean and dry to help diminish pain and infection
- Daily suppressive therapy medication is also available to help reduce the chance of transferring genital herpes to other sexual partners
How is genital herpes transferred from person to person?
- Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, so through any unprotected sex act like mouth to genital contact, the infection can spread. This may occur through a cold sore or fever blister on the mouth through oral sex. Genital to genital contact with sores on or around a personâ€™s genitals also easily spread the disease. However, it is a good idea for teens to keep in mind that even if a person is in between outbreaks and is not exhibiting symptoms, the infection can still be passed to their partner(s).
- You cannot catch genital herpes from an object like a toilet seat, despite many misconceptions. The herpes virus canâ€™t live outside the body for that long.
- Transmission is usually more successful in male to female transmission rather than female to male, which is why more females than males are affected by the disease.
- The only way a person can ever 100 percent avoid getting genital herpes or any other type of sexually transmitted disease is to completely abstain from sexual acts containing any kind of unprotected genital to genital or mouth to genital contact.
- Using a latex condom may reduce the risk of contracting genital herpes, however, it does not protect the areas it does not cover like the mouth or around the genital or anus.
sources: cdc.gov, kidshealth.org