Bumps and lumps

Herpes is an infection caused the herpes simplex virus; this virus is responsible for cold sores, which tend to develop in the corner of the mouth, and genital herpes, a sexually transmitted infection, which causes small sores to develop in the genital areas.

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a viral infection, which is classed as a sexually transmitted infection because it can be spread through sexual contact. Genital herpes is a chronic (long-term) condition; treatment does not banish the virus completely and the virus lies dormant in the body. Most people who have genital herpes experience bouts of symptoms now and again, which occur when the virus is active.

Symptoms of genital herpes

The most obvious symptom of genital herpes is a rash made up of small, red blisters, which develops in the genital area. The blisters tend to be very sore and they can also be located around the thighs and the bottom; they can also form in the rectum.

Additional symptoms of genital herpes include a high temperature, aches and pains, generally feeling ill, pain during urination and abnormal vaginal discharge.

In most cases, symptoms tend to last for around 15-21 days, but as the virus remains in the body, they may flare up from time to time. Symptoms of a recurrent infection include itching and burning around the genitals, blisters and sores on the cervix (in females) and painful sores in the genital area.

How is genital herpes treated?

If you have genital herpes symptoms for the first time (this is known as a primary infection) you can visit your GP or a sexual health clinic. If you have recurrent symptoms, you may be referred to a herpes specialist London. Treatment for primary infections usually involves taking antiviral tablets; the most common medicine used is acyclovir. If you have recurrent infections you may be advised to have suppressive treatment, which is designed to prevent flare-ups; this treatment involves taking antiviral medication on a daily basis.

Preventing genital herpes

The only way to prevent genital herpes is to have safe sex; this means using condoms during sexual contact. Other methods of contraception, such as the pill and the contraceptive implant do not protect against sexually transmitted infections. If you have active symptoms of genital herpes, you should avoid sexual contact with other people.

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus and spread through intimate contact. Genital herpes is characterised by painful sores, which develop in the genital areas. They are usually similar in appearance to blisters and they burst, leaving open sores.

Genital herpes is a chronic (long-term) condition, which tends to flare up from time to time. This is because the herpes simplex virus does not leave the body, it merely lies dormant. Those who have genital herpes may suffer from recurrent infections and the symptoms may differ from the primary infection. More information regarding genital herpes can be found here.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes

Aside from the painful blisters around the genital area, genital herpes can also cause additional symptoms, including:

  • A high temperature
  • General unwell feeling
  • Sores in the rectum or cervix in women
  • Pain when urinating
  • Unusual vaginal discharge.

Symptoms of a recurrent infection (when the patient has already been infected and suffered symptoms before) include:

  • A burning sensation around the genitals
  • Painful blisters on the genitals, thighs and the rectum and on the cervix in women.

3 Ways to Relieve the Symptoms of Genital Herpes

There is no cure for genital herpes, but there are treatments that can help to ease symptoms and relieve pain caused by recurrent infections; these include:

  1. Keeping the affected area clean: hygiene is important at the best of times, but it is particularly important when you have genital herpes. Try to keep the affected area as clean as possible by using a cloth to dab warm water or salt water on the blisters. This may be painful but it will help to prevent sores from getting infected and the skin on the legs from sticking together when you walk.
  1. Apply ice to the blisters: applying ice is an effective pain relief method and it also helps to ease the burning sensation, which is commonly experienced by those who have a recurrent infection. Place an ice pack inside a cloth and hold the cloth on the blisters. Do not place ice directly on the skin, as this can cause damage to it. It is also a good idea to avoid wearing tight clothing, so that your clothes do not stick to the blisters and it is not painful when you put your clothes on or take them off.
  1. Apply petroleum jelly: applying petroleum jelly to the blisters helps to relieve pain and soreness when you put on your clothing and when you urinate. It is also really important to drink plenty of water to jeep you hydrated and to dilute your urine. This will reduce pain and discomfort when you go to the toilet.

These self-help methods are generally recommended for patients with a recurrent infection. Primary infections are usually treated with a course of anti-viral medication (usually acyclovir). However, they can also be beneficial for patients who have symptoms for the first time as a means of reducing pain. If you have an active infection, it is important to avoid sexual or intimate contact with others, as this will cause the infection to be spread.