Tue. Jun 6th, 2023
Causes and Symptoms of Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection or STI which leads to herpetic sores. These are painful blisters or fluid-filled bumps that may break open and ooze fluid.

Causes of genital herpes

There are two kinds of herpes simplex virus (HSV) which lead to genital herpes. These include the following:

  • HSV-1.This type generally leads to cold sores and even genital herpes.
  • HSV-2.This kind usually causes genital herpes and also cold sores.

People who are below 50 years may contract HSV-1 and people in the age group of 15 to 49 years had HSV-2 infection.

The viruses enter your body through mucous membranes or skin abrasions. Mucous membranes are thin layers of tissue that line the openings of your body. They may be there in your mouth, genitals and nose.

When the viruses enter into your body, they incorporate themselves within the cells. These viruses seem to adapt with or multiply to their environments easily which makes really difficult to treat them.

HSV-1 or HSV-2 may be found in the bodily fluids such as:

  • Semen
  • Vaginal secretions
  • Saliva

Knowing the symptoms of genital herpes

The appearance of blisters is called an outbreak. The first outbreak appears in 4 days after contracting this virus though it may take as little as 2 days or as much as 12 days or more to appear.

General symptoms for the ones having a penis include blisters on the:

  • Scrotum
  • Penis
  • buttocks near or around your anus

General symptoms for those with a vagina include blisters around or near the:

  • Buttocks
  • Anus
  • Vagina

Common symptoms for anyone are the following:

  • Blisters might be there on the face, lips, mouth and anywhere which comes into contact with infected areas
  • The area which has contracted the condition usually begins to tingle or itch before blisters appear.
  • The blisters can get ulcerated and ooze fluid.
  • A crust might appear over the sores within one week of the outbreak.
  • The lymph glands can get swollen to fight infection and inflammation in your body.
  • The viral infection can be the reason for body aches, fever and headaches.
  • General symptoms for a baby who has herpes from birth can include ulcers on the body, genitals and face.

Babies who have genital herpes from birth might develop severe complications and experience:

  • Brain damage
  • Blindness
  • Death

You need to tell the doctor when you require any diagnosis of genital herpes during pregnancy.

They will take necessary precautions to prevent virus from being spread to unborn baby at the time of delivery. If there are herpes blisters in the birth canal, the healthcare provider may want to deliver the baby through caesarean section than routine vaginal delivery.

How common is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is quite common. Though genital herpes usually occur due to HSV-2, the infection may be caused by HSV-1.

When you need to visit a doctor for genital herpes

If there aren’t any symptoms of genital herpes, the CDC will not suggest testing for herpes. But there are symptoms, it is important to visit a doctor. They can make thorough diagnosis and discuss effective management strategies for the infection.

Besides, when there is a probability of getting exposed to HSV or you need to conduct a full STI examination and testing, it is suggested to schedule an appointment with the doctor.

If it is not possible to book in-person appointment, an at-home test kit is another option to take into consideration. It is important to know that an in-person test conducted by a doctor seem to be more accurate.

How to diagnose genital herpes

The doctor can typically diagnose the transmission of herpes due to visual examination of herpes sores. Though testing is not necessary all the time, a doctor might confirm their diagnosis by conducting laboratory tests.

The blood test may diagnose HSV before the outbreak occurs. But if there has not been any exposure to this kind of virus and there aren’t any symptoms, it is not always necessary to get screened for HSV-1 or HSV-2.

How genital herpes can be treated?

The treatment may reduce outbreaks though it cannot treat herpes simplex viruses.


Antiviral drugs can speed up healing time for genital sores and lessen the pain. It is important to take some medications at the first signs of an outbreak such as – itching and tingling to decrease the symptoms.

If there have been outbreaks, the doctor might prescribe certain medications so that the future outbreaks does not occur.

Home care

Use mild cleansers at the time of bathing or taking a shower in hot water. Keep the affected site dry and wear loose cotton clothing for the area to be comfortable.

How genital herpes is spread

HSV can spread due to sexual contact which includes the following:

  • anal sex
  • vaginal sex
  • other activities that involve contact between the genitals

It is possible to contract HSV infection due to oral sex. Oral herpes may spread to the anal and genital areas.

Though HSV can be transmitted due to skin-to-skin contact, the virus may be found in saliva, semen and vaginal secretions.

How to prevent genital herpes

When a person remains sexually active, they may lessen the risk of contracting HSV by the following ways:

  • Use barrier methods such as condoms every time they enjoy sex
  • Do not have sex with someone who has the symptoms of herpes. But it is important to know that HSV may pass to another person even when the symptoms are not there.
  • Talk with sex partners about their STI status

Genital herpes does not require treatment always but genital warts may be painful. Antiviral treatments can lessen the symptoms and severity of outbreaks. There rare cases when herpes can lead to certain complications. Generally, it does not get worse over time. You may visit a private sexual health clinic in London and know about the symptoms of genital herpes to treat them on time.

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