One in five people has genital herpes, and most of them don’t even know it. Only about one-fourth of the estimated millions of people who are infected experience any symptoms. Worse yet, whether or not you have a single symptom, herpes is sexually transmittable. Herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus type II (HSV-2) Another strain, HSV-1, is the type responsible for cold sores, but it also sometimes causes genital infections.
Once you’ve contracted the virus, it’s with you for a lifetime, living in nerve cells at the bottom of your spine. If you do have symptoms, they usually consist of a tingly or burning sensation in your genital area followed by the appearance of small red blisters and are often itchy and painful, with a watery yellow center that eventually ruptures and grows a crusty skin.
Exit pain and suffering; medical treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Your doctor will probably treat your initial outbreak and perhaps recurrent outbreaks as well with the anti-viral drug acyclovir. Gradually, outbreaks often weaken and may disappear altogether. Meanwhile, here are some ways to make yourself more comfortable. Moreover, keep blisters clean and dry; you don’t want blisters to become superinfected by bacteria on the surrounding skin. Take a bath or shower daily with gentle soap and water, or just water alone.
Even a warm bath helps relieve genital irritation, and if you have sores, it can also help relieve itching. Best of all is a soak in an oatmeal bath, and many doctors recommend Aveeno bath treatments, available from your chemist. The product contains a finely powdered oatmeal called colloidal oatmeal that’s very soothing to itching skin. Squeezing into tights, underwear, or other form-fitting clothes will further irritate sensitive herpes sores. You’ll get chafing, which can be extremely painful. Opt for loose-fitting clothing until your sores heal. Taking a non-prescription painkiller like paracetamol, ibuprofen, or aspirin might help relieve blister pain.
Follow the directions on the label. Having sex during a herpes outbreak is a bad idea for a number of reasons. The herpes outbreak is always associated with some level of pain and discomfort, and this will be made much worse during intercourse. As part of the herpes outbreak, patients may experience swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin. This swelling may cause some discomfort, or it may be painless. Having sex during an active outbreak will put your partner at risk of developing a herpes infection and may place you at higher risk of contracting other sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
If you don’t have herpes but your life partner does, then using a condom offers some protection against contracting the virus. Use a condom even if no blisters are apparent. The virus is still there, and an expert suggests latex over animal-membrane condoms. The best of all may be the female condom. This device consists of two plastic rings connected by a polyurethane sheath. The female condom covers the whole vulva, protecting nearby areas that would otherwise expose the virus or be exposed to it.
Symptoms of Herpes
Should you experience them, they may include a burning or tingling feeling in the genital area, followed by the eruption of painful small red blisters that rupture and form shallow ulcers. Particularly with the initial infection, other symptoms may include:
Swollen lymph glands
Abnormal vaginal discharge
If you exhibit these symptoms, see your doctor, gynecologist, or a specialist working in a sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic. Some family planning clinics also offer specialized services for some STD’s.