Everything You Need to Know About Genital Herpes
Genital herpes is a common infection that affects about 1 in every 5 people in the United States. The infection is generally spread through sex and direct contact with infected areas of the body. The infection is usually caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus – 1 or the Herpes Simplex Virus – 2, which is characterized by cold sores.
What happens in a Herpes infection?
The virus responsible for the infection is transferred from one individual to another through sexual contact. The transmission may occur even when the infected person doesn’t show any symptoms of the infection. When the virus enters the skin, it travels along nerve paths. The virus may become inactive and remain there forever.
This virus tends to become active from time to time. When this happens, the virus travels back to the surface of the skin. This is when additional virus is shed and the chances of transmission increase manifold.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
While some people exhibit symptoms of genital herpes within a few days from contracting the virus, others don’t show any such symptoms but that doesn’t mean that they cannot spread the infection. The herpes simplex virus has the tendency of remaining hidden for months or even years from the time of initial contact.
Infected individuals usually exhibit outbreaks in the form of small blisters, which eventually break open resulting in painful sores that heal within a few weeks. These blisters may also be accompanies with flu – like symptoms such as fever and swollen lymph nodes. Some women may also experience pain while passing urine. Headache, backache and fatigue are some of the common symptoms of herpes.
Can these symptoms be treated?
Although there is no cure for genital herpes, the frequency of outbreaks and intensity of symptoms can be lessened by adequate medication. Health care providers often suggest antiviral drugs such as acyclovir and valacyclovir depending on the symptoms and how often they occur. Medication can also be taken on a regular basis in order to reduce the chances of transmitting the virus to another individual.
How to diagnose herpes?
Herpes is often confused with various urethral infections. Therefore, it is essential that you get a proper diagnosis done. If you observe sores on your genitals, your health care provider might suggest the following tests:
- PCR blood test: Traces of the virus’ DNA are looked for in this test. This is the most common test and is usually considered highly accurate.
- Cell culture: In this test, traces from a sore are collected and examined for the virus.
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