Genital Herpes (HSV-2): Causes, Symptoms & Prevention
Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections that is usually identified by fluid filled bumps, fever blister, genital pains as well as sores.
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Genital Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) or human herpes virus which belongs to the family of Herpesviridae. This virus enters the body through body fluids like semen, vaginal fluid, blood and saliva.
At times, it does not have any clear symptoms and even the carrier might not know that they have it.
Genital herpes is one of the chronic sexually transmitted diseases that can last for a very long time in the body. Its diagnosis is usually done by lab test, imaging or self-diagnosis. The first outbreak for genital herpes can stay up to 4 (four) weeks.
However, the cure for genital herpes has not yet been discovered but medications have been put in place to prevent it. Also the use of condoms during sex does not prevent you from contacting this virus.
Genital herpes is very common in the United States and mostly affect people within the age range of 14 (fourteen) to 49 (forty nine). Also, the number of women with genital herpes in the United States is higher than the number of men and it can easily be transmitted from a man to a woman than from woman to man.
In Nigeria, statistics have shown that over 1,500,000 (one million five hundred thousand) cases of genital herpes are reported every year.
Types of Genital Herpes
There are two types of the genital herpes depending on the type of causative virus. The viruses are;
Herpes Simplex Virus-1
HSV-1 is also called human herpes virus 1 or oral herpes. It is transmitted to the genitals during oral sex or by kissing, sharing tooth brushes and eating utensils. This infection is usually associated with cold sores around the mouth, lips and facial region and also fluid filled lesion. It usually results in genital HSV-1 and oral HSV-1.
The HSV-1 virus usually live in the back of the neck causing facial outbreaks.
A lot of people suffering from genital herpes suffer more from the HSV-1 virus.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2012 an estimated number of 67% of the world’s population were infected with the virus. And up to 140,000 (one hundred and forty million) people were estimated to have the genital HSV-1 virus. The rate at which genital HSV-1 and oral HSV-1 is being contracted is on the rise.
The reoccurring outbreak of HSV-1 is less severe than the initial outbreak. Its symptoms at the reoccurring stage are only fluid filled blisters and as time goes on, it breaks off and the fluid oozes out. Then a yellow scab crusts will cover the broken spot forming a new skin underneath.
This blister can last from 1 to 3 weeks and the reoccurring outbreak usually comes month or years after the reoccurring outbreak.
Herpes Simplex Virus-2
HSV-2 is popularly known as genital herpes. It is also acquired on the facial regions leading to oral HSV-2. It shares 50% of its DNA with HSV-1 and they produce likely symptoms.
The HSV-2 virus is mostly adapted to the base of the spine called sacral ganglia causing outbreaks in genital areas.
HSV-2 is usually contacted during sexual contact by vaginal or anal sex with an infected person. The infected person develops sores around the genitals or rectum. Although other parts may be affected by the sores but the most prominent region is usually in the waist. People with weak immune system are usually at risk
Symptoms of Herpes
Although there might not be any noticeable symptoms at the initial period but it can still be transmitted. Most of the likely seen symptoms are;
- Itches on the skin
- Burning sensation around the lips, mouth and genital regions
- Irritation on the skin
- Red sores that are painful
- Blisters on the face or skin that ooze off or bleed
Complications of Herpes and Risk Factors
- Improper menstruation
- Physical and emotional stress
- Trauma in the affected parts including sexual trauma
- Suppression of the immune system due to other sexually transmitted disease like AIDS.
- Immune suppression by use of chemotherapy or steroids.
- General illness from mild to very serious condition.
- Transplant recipients
- Autoimmune disease such as lupus
Diagnosis of Genital Herpes Virus
In order to have a conclusive examination on the virus, the virus can be diagnosed by conducting a lab test which are DNA test or PCR test and also virus culture.
Medical treatment of genital herpes
Since there are two types of virus causing genital herpes the HSV-1 and HSV-2 some antiviral medicines have been made available to manage the symptoms but no cure has been provided yet.
There are three most commonly prescribed antiviral medications for preventing HSV-1 and HSV-2 which includes Zivorax, Famciclovir (famvir), Acyclovir and Valacyclovir (valtrex). For HSV-1, Acyclovir is mostly prescribed.
The listed medications helps in shortening the life cycle of the virus and reduces the healing time of the sores and blisters. It is usually take orally by can also be taken topically both depends on the doctor’s prescription.
4 (Four) Natural Ways to Treat Herpes
- Use of aleovera– The use of aleo vera on the affected spots and allow it to dry. This process helps to quicken the healing process.
- Tumeric– Tumeric has antiviral properties that helps to reduce the effect of the herpes virus in the body
- Green tea: Get a green tea and add some amount of honey or lemon juice. Drink it three times daily and you will experience a positive result.
- Use of goldenseal tincture: Goldenseal contains an immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties which helps the immune system to fight against the herpes virus and also relief the body from the inflammations.
other natural therapy includes cinnamon, licorice root, etc.
Safety Tips to Prevent Herpes
- For 100% safety from any form of sexually transmitted infection, I always advice that you abstain from sexual activities.
- Use of condoms during vaginal and anal sex but it does not offer 100% protection
- Use of dental dams during oral sex
- Engage on regular medical tests on STIs
- Avoid multiple sexual partners and stick to one uninfected partner
- Use of anti-herpes medications regularly if your partner is infected
- Always seek for counselling