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Genital herpes

Features/Symptoms

  • Fever;
  • Swollen glands;
  • Perineal pain;
  • Frequent urination;
  • Lesions on Prepuce (foreskin), shaft of penis, buttock or thighs;
  • Can be purely genital or oral-genital due to oral sex;
  • Type 1: fever blisters on lips (above waist);
  • Type 2: blister below the waist (genital herpes).

Progression

The disease is transmitted during close contact with a person who is infected with the virus. Most genital herpes is due to HSV type 2, although genital contact with oral lesions caused by HSV-1 can also produce genital infection. The infection period is usually 2-20 days before the individual shows signs and symptoms, and can therefore spread the disease without knowing about being infected.

Causes

Most people get genital herpes by having sex with someone who is experiencing a herpes “outbreak”. This outbreak literally means that the HSV is active. When the virus is active, sores are visible in the genital area. The sores cast off (shed) viruses that can infect another person. However, a person can have an outbreak and have no visible sores at all. People often get genital herpes by having sexual contact with others who don’t know they are infected or who are experiencing an outbreak of herpes without any visible sores. A person with genital herpes can also infect a sexual partner during oral sex. The virus is spread only rarely, if at all, by touching objects such as a toilet seat or hot tub.

Treatment/Management

Saltwater bathing or sitting in a warm bath may help a client to pass urine more comfortable. If the lesions are still moist, acyclovir, famciclovir and valaciclovir can be useful (but useless if the lesions are crusting). Rest, pain and fever medication are used for management purposes. Symptoms are treated symptomatically. In severe cases oral anti-viral medication is prescribed. The virus can re-occur but is usually less severe. For frequent and severe re-occurrence, anti-viral treatment is prescribed daily for 6-12 months.