Herpes is a sexually transmitted disease, and one of the most common ones at that. It is the result the herpes simplex virus (HSV), or more specifically from the infection caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2).
Herpes is also referred to as genital herpes, both of the terms used interchangeably. They are different variations of the herpes infection since genital herpes is caused by the Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). HSV-1 results in the patients having cold sores or fever blisters. The issue with genital herpes is that most people with the ailment don’t know they have it. The reason? A lack of symptoms!
A look at the HSV Infection
How does the infection spread? It does so by getting transferred from one person to another via sexual contact. And there’s no tell-tale signs when this happens. Even if the person who has the HSV doesn’t exhibit any signs of infection or symptoms, they can pass it on to others. This makes it very hard for medical practitioners to control.
The virus works its way through the skin. It relies on nerve paths to spread. It can become dormant in the nerves, which is why we have observed that even non-infected people can pass around the HSV virus unwittingly. The virus stays in the nerves for an indefinite period, making the strain virtually un-killable with time.
It doesn’t stay dormant though, becoming active out of its own volition. In such an eventuality, the virus traces back its steps and comes back to the surface of the skin, joining with the additional virus that’s nested there.
Two things can happen. Either there is an outbreak of symptoms or the body shows no signs of symptoms, allowing the virus to spread completely undetected.
The important thing to note is that the active virus passes from one partner to the other through sexual contact. Condoms cannot affect the likelihood of contracting herpes. The virus can, in all likelihood, remain on the skin.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
A dormant virus means that you might pass the infection. To make matters harder, there are little to no symptoms that can warm you of the presence of the virus in your system.
Normally, once the virus has passed to another individual, you may notice that the symptoms will take anywhere from a few days to some weeks to surface. In fact, there have been cases where the outbreak of symptoms occurs after years.
When the symptoms do occur, the infected person feels them rather severely. In the beginning, they may be in the form of tiny blisters. But as they break open, producing a bevy of raw, painful sores develop. These sores can scab and heal in a few weeks, but they bring about flu-like symptoms. Swollen lymph nodes and fever are bound to follow.
Here is how you can determine the symptoms of a genital HSV infection. They apply equally to a man or a woman:
- Itchy and tingling feeling around your genital and anal region
- Genital region suffers from raw, cracked or red areas and don’t react to touch
- Blisters that cause painful sores. Found in any region that comprises the genitals, buttocks or rectal areas
- Blisters around the urethra
- Pain when urine passes through the sores
- Back pain
- Flu-like symptoms
Can Symptoms Be Treated?
The first thing people must do is to get their condition checked by a health care provider. A physical exam that’s taken with a swab test or a blood test is the first priority for HSV infected patients.
To date, no cure exists for genital herpes. The only way to go for patients with herpes infections is to manage their symptoms better. Timely treatment can also reduce the risk of the infection spreading any further.
Medical experts can prescribe some antiviral medications. They can, at best, reduce the discomfort and pain that accompanies the symptoms. These medications also suppress the virus, ensuring that the infection is contained.
Herpes is a terrible ailment which can’t be cured. But with proper medication and care, it can be kept at bay, and allow HSV patients to live their lives with minimal discomfort.
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