What is it?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) – the same type of virus that causes cold sores. Genital herpes can cause outbreaks of blisters or sores on the genitals and anus. Once infected, you can continue to have recurrent episodes of symptoms throughout your life.
What are the symptoms?
Most people with the herpes simplex virus (HSV) don’t experience any symptoms of genital herpes when first infected. As a result, many people don’t know they have the condition. Symptoms may not appear until months or sometimes years after you’re exposed to the virus. If you experience symptoms when first infected, they usually appear four to seven days after you have been exposed to the virus. The symptoms are usually more severe first time around than in cases of recurrent infections. * Primary infection The symptoms of genital herpes for the first time include: * small blisters that burst to leave red, open sores around your genitals, rectum (back passage), thighs and buttocks * blisters and ulcers on the cervix (lower part of the womb) in women * vaginal discharge in women * pain when you pass urine * a general feeling of being unwell, with aches, pains and flu-like symptoms These symptoms may last up to 20 days. However, the sores will eventually scab and heal without scarring. * Recurrent infections Although the initial symptoms of genital herpes clear up, the virus remains dormant (inactive) in a nearby nerve. The virus may be reactivated from time to time, travelling back down the nerve to your skin and causing recurrent outbreaks. Symptoms of a recurrent outbreak may include: * a tingling, burning or itching sensation around your genitals, and sometimes down your leg, before blisters appear * painful red blisters that soon burst to leave sores around your genitals, rectum (back passage), thighs and buttocks * blisters and ulcers on the cervix (lower part of the womb) in women Recurrent outbreaks are usually shorter and less severe. This is because your body has produced protective antibodies (proteins that fight infection) in reaction to the previous infection. Your body now recognises the virus and mounts a response that is able to fight HSV more effectively. Over time, you should find any recurrent genital herpes infections become less frequent and less severe.
- Wear loose cotton clothing.
- Keep the affected area dry and clean.
- TAKE a diet, which is rich in the amino acid lysine like beans, lentils, cheese, nuts, soybeans (tofu),fenugreek seed, meat (red meat, pork), poultry, eggs, fish (cod and sardines).
- Prompt relief of local pain can be transiently achieved by applying wrapped ice cubes.
- Condoms reduce but not completely eliminate the risk of spreading or contracting herpes virus.
- Do not scratch the lesions.
- AVOID a diet rich in the amino acid arginine such as chocolates, peanuts, wheat, raisins, etc.
- Do not touch the lesions with bare hands. Wash your hands with soap water if you touch the lesions.
- AVOID any sexual contact during symptomatic stages.
Things to watch out for
Genital Herpes can be easily controlled using antiviral medicines. GP should be contacted if the symptoms are getting worse.