Genital Herpes Infection

What is herpes?

Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes virus that results in blisters on the genital area or mouth area.  The virus is spread from person to person during vaginal, oral or anal sex as well as skin-to-skin contact.  Although the disease cannot be cured, it can be controlled and symptoms relieved by medication.

Click to view Stanford Centre for Health Education on Genital Herpes

What are the symptoms?

Some people do not have any symptoms but most develop symptoms within a few weeks of being infected. The symptoms include

  • Blisters (usually painful) around the genitalia, anus, mouth or eyes
  • Pain when urinating
  • Joint or muscle aches
  • Fever and flu-like illness

If treatment is started early, the blisters will form crusts and the symptoms will resolve within 2-4 weeks.  However, there may be recurrences (known as outbreaks) which can be annoying and uncomfortable with similar symptoms of painful or itchy blisters.  Sometimes, you may be able get warning symptoms before the outbreak such as the feeling of itching or tingling around the affected area.

These are some trigger factors which can make these recurrences more likely;

  • Stress (both mental or physical)
  • Changes of weather (heat or cold)
  • Menstrual periods
  • Being sick or unwell
  • Reduce immunity (such as having cancer or while on chemotherapy or oral steroid treatment)

How is herpes treated?

Although there is no cure for Herpes, your doctor can prescribe antiviral medication (such as Acyclovir) to help reduce the symptoms and duration of the disease during an outbreak. These medicines work best when they are started just before or soon after (ideally within 5 days) the outbreak starts.

Things you can do to reduce the discomfort at the genital area

  • Sit in a warm bath for around 15-20 minutes.  Avoid bubble bath
  • Apply ice packs around the affected areas
  • Keep your genital area dry and wear loose cotton clothing
  • Take painkillers to relieve the pain
  • Avoid hot spicy foods if you have oral herpes
  • Avoid any sexual contact when you have an outbreak
Click to view Stanford Centre for Health Education on Genital Herpes Treatment

Do’s and Don’t’s

DO take precautions by using barrier contraception such as condoms

DO inform your partner(s) to get tested when you have been been infected

DO inform your doctor of your past history of herpes when you are pregnant

DO NOT have unprotected sex with new partners

DO NOT have sex until at least 1 week after the end of your treatment

See your GP or Gynae doctor if you have burning sensation passing urine or unusual discharge

Disclaimer. TELEME blog posts contains general information about health conditions and treatments. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. 

If you think you may be suffering from any medical condition, you should seek immediate medical attention from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

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