Genital herpes is a contagious viral infection that affects an estimated 30 million Americans. The infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV).
There are two types of HSV and both can cause the symptoms of genital herpes. The virus remains in certain nerve cells of the body for life, causing periodic symptoms in some people.
How is it spread?
Genital herpes is usually acquired by sexual contact with someone who has an outbreak of herpes sores in the genital area.
Someone who has oral herpes can transmit the infection to the genital area of a partner during oral-genital sex. The virus is rarely spread by contact with objects such as a toilet seat or hot tub.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms vary widely from person to person. When the first symptoms occur, they usually appear within 2 to 10 days of exposure.
The early symptoms include
* Itching or burning sensation in genital area
* Pain in the legs, buttocks, or genital area
* Abnormal vaginal discharge
* A feeling of pressure in the abdominal region
* Sores occur on the cervix in women and in the urinary passage in men
* Muscle aches
* Painful or difficult urination
How is it diagnosed?
The most accurate method of diagnosis is by viral culture. The sore is swabbed and the sample is added to a laboratory culture. Results take 1-2 days.
What is the treatment?
* Topical or oral antiviral medication
* Keep infected area clean and dry
* Try to avoid touching sores
* Avoid sexual contact from the time symptoms are first recognized until the sores are completely healed