Herpes is an infection caused the herpes simplex virus; this virus is responsible for cold sores, which tend to develop in the corner of the mouth, and genital herpes, a sexually transmitted infection, which causes small sores to develop in the genital areas.
What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is a viral infection, which is classed as a sexually transmitted infection because it can be spread through sexual contact. Genital herpes is a chronic (long-term) condition; treatment does not banish the virus completely and the virus lies dormant in the body. Most people who have genital herpes experience bouts of symptoms now and again, which occur when the virus is active.
Symptoms of genital herpes
The most obvious symptom of genital herpes is a rash made up of small, red blisters, which develops in the genital area. The blisters tend to be very sore and they can also be located around the thighs and the bottom; they can also form in the rectum.
Additional symptoms of genital herpes include a high temperature, aches and pains, generally feeling ill, pain during urination and abnormal vaginal discharge.
In most cases, symptoms tend to last for around 15-21 days, but as the virus remains in the body, they may flare up from time to time. Symptoms of a recurrent infection include itching and burning around the genitals, blisters and sores on the cervix (in females) and painful sores in the genital area.
How is genital herpes treated?
If you have genital herpes symptoms for the first time (this is known as a primary infection) you can visit your GP or a sexual health clinic. If you have recurrent symptoms, you may be referred to a herpes specialist London. Treatment for primary infections usually involves taking antiviral tablets; the most common medicine used is acyclovir. If you have recurrent infections you may be advised to have suppressive treatment, which is designed to prevent flare-ups; this treatment involves taking antiviral medication on a daily basis.
Preventing genital herpes
The only way to prevent genital herpes is to have safe sex; this means using condoms during sexual contact. Other methods of contraception, such as the pill and the contraceptive implant do not protect against sexually transmitted infections. If you have active symptoms of genital herpes, you should avoid sexual contact with other people.