Genital herpes is a form of viral infection caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2). It is a painful and worrying disease more common than people believe. Genital herpes is mostly an asymptomatic disease occurring as blisters around the genital area or the rectum. The blisters disappear in around 3-4 weeks. Once the virus has entered the body it remains latent in the nervous system. This implies that once the person is infected by the herpes virus he remains a carrier even though the symptoms may have long disappeared.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
Genital herpes has very few symptoms. It starts as red bumps or sores in the genital area. These red bumps are seen on the area where the virus entered the body which is the labia, clitoris, vagina, vulva, cervix, anus, thighs, or buttocks in women and penis, scrotum, anus, or buttocks in men. After about 24-72 hours these blisters burst oozing fluid (also known as viral shedding) and leave painful sores.
These sores heal in times and scabs are formed, which fall off in about 4 week’s time. Other related symptoms are itching and burning sensation when passing urine, swollen and tender lymph glands in the groin region and sometimes also throat and under the arms. Muscle aches, headaches and fever may also be seen in patients. The symptoms and infection take around 21 days to heal.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Genital Herpes
Herpes can be diagnosed by a physical examination of the sores by a medical practitioner. Many antiviral medications like acyclovir, valaciclovir, and famciclovir are effective in treatment of genital herpes. They help in reduction of painful symptoms. Other medications like anti-inflammatory analgesics may also be prescribed to reduce fever and burning. Topical medication is also applied on the sores to reduce swelling and pain. Some of these topical medications are also available over the counter.
Transmission and Prevention of Genital Herpes
Classified as a sexually transmitted disease (STD), genital herpes is spread by sexual contact with an infected person. The virus is contained in the fluid from the oozing blisters. Once the virus enters the body it cannot be removed ever and becomes active from time to time causing outbreaks. Some people experience many outbreaks in their life and some may just experience one. The exact cause of the virus becoming active is not known.
Though it cannot be removed from the body completely, outbreaks can be prevented by some simple techniques. Listed here are some tips to remember.
- Take antiviral medication for the full term prescribed even after the external symptoms have disappeared.
- Apply topical ointments on the sores regularly. Not only will this reduce the sores greatly but also curtail the virus’s activity.
- Lead a stress free life. Reducing stress from life has been known to prevent outbreaks. Meditation, Yoga and other physical exercises release pheromones which reduce stress from the body.
- Maintain a healthy diet rich in proteins and low in processed food.
- Take a multivitamin supplement with your diet. Certain vitamins like C and minerals like zinc have been known to prevent herpes outbreaks.
- Herbal tea leaves like Terragon tea has antiviral properties. Take this regularly.
Lead a Healthy Life
Even though the herpes virus remains in the body forever, many people lead a healthy herpes free life by maintaining a good lifestyle. Reducing stress and remaining active physically greatly reduces the chances of herpes outbreaks. All it requires is making some lifestyle changes and being attuned to your body. As the disease has no permanent cure and has troubled mankind for ages, preventing further outbreak is the only method of avoiding the painful disorder.