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Genital Herpes Information - Symptoms And Treatment

Genital herpes (pronounced: hur -peez) is caused by a virus called herpes simplex (HSV). There are two different types of herpes virus, which are called HSV-1 and HSV-2. Most forms of genital herpes are HSV-2, however, a person with HSV-1 can transmit the virus through oral sex to another person's genitals.

Genital herpes is an inflammatory disease of the genitalia for which there's no cure. This chronic infection can be classified by its cause, either herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-l) or HSV- 2. The prognosis varies, depending on the patient's age, the strength of her immune defenses, and the infection site. HSV- 2 is usually self-limiting but is more likely to cause painful and severe outbreaks; therefore, individuals are more likely to seek medical attention than those with HSV-1. In neonates and immunocompromised patients, such as those with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, genital herpes is commonly severe, resulting in complications and a high mortality.

Genital herpes is very common in the United States, affecting people ages 12 and older. HSV-2 is more common in women than men, probably because male-to-female transmission is more efficient than female-to-male transmission. Also, it's more common in Blacks (45.9%) than in Whites (17.6%). However, as the number of infected people increases, the largest increase in the past 20 years is currently seen in White teenagers.

What causes Genital Herpes ?

Genital herpes is usually caused by infection with HSV- 2; however, HSV-l, which more commonly affects the lips and causes cold sores or fever blisters, can also cause genital herpes. Genital herpes is typically transmitted through sexual intercourse, oralgenital sexual activity, kissing. and hand-to-body contact with someone who's experiencing an outbreak (when HSV is active). Pregnant women may transmit the infection to neonates during vaginal delivery if an active infection is present. Such transmitted infection may be localized (for instance, in the eyes) or disseminated and may be associated with central nervous system involvement.

Signs and symptoms of Genital Herpes

Typically, when a person is first infected with HSV, symptoms may appear after a 2- to 1 O-day incubation period and may last 2 to 3 weeks. Early symptoms may include itching or burning in the genital or anal area; pain in the legs, buttocks, or genital area; vaginal discharge; and abdominal pressure. Then. after a few days, sores will begin to appear. For women. fluid-filled vesicles appear, usually on the cervix (the primary infection site) and, possibly, on the labia, perianal skin, vulva, or vagina. For men, these vesicles appear on the glans penis, foreskin. or penile shaft. In both males and females, extra genital lesions may appear on the mouth or anus. The vesicles, usually painless at first. rupture and develop into extensive, shallow, painful ulcers, with characteristic yellow, oozing centers. Redness, marked edema, tender inguinallymph nodes, and cervicallymphadenopathy also develop. Over several days, the sores will begin to crust over and then heal without leaving a scar.

Other features of initial mucocutaneous infection include fever, malaise, dysuria and, in females, leukorrhea. Rare complications (generally from extragenital lesions) include herpetic keratitis. which may lead to blindness. and potentially fatal herpetic encephalitis.

Diagnosis information

Diagnosis may be based on physical examination and patient history. However, approximately 20% of patients with HSV infections are asymptomatic and 60% of patients with HSV infections have only mild symptoms. In these patients, diagnosis using physical examination and patient history may be difficult. Helpful diagnostic tools include laboratory data showing increased antibody titers, smears of genital lesions showing atypical cells, and cytologic preparations (Tzanck test) revealing giant cells. Diagnosis can be confirmed by demonstration of HSV in vesicular fluid. using tissue culture techniques, or by antigen tests that identify specific antigens.

Treatment of Genital Herpes

There's no known cure for genital herpes. Rather, treatment is symptomatic and geared toward preventing outbreaks. Acyclovir (Zovirax) is an effective treatment for the symptoms of genital herpes. LV. administration may be required for patients who are hospitalized with severe genital herpes or for those who are immunocompromised and have a potentially life threatening herpes infection. Oral acyclovir may be prescribed for patients with first-time infections or recurrent outbreaks. Newer drug therapies include famdclovir (Famvir) and valacyclovir (Valtrex). Daily prophylaxis with acyclovir reduces the frequency of recurrences by at least 50% but is only appropriate for patients with frequent outbreaks and may not decrease transmission rate of the disease.

Other treatments being studied to cure genital herpes is include:

  • Imiquimod cream , an immune enhancer
  • Human leukocyte interferon alpha cream.

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Home remedies to cure genital herpes

  • As soon as you feel run down or tingly like your going to have an outbreak, load up on orange juice and L-Lysine it is a vitamin sold over the counter and it is inexpensive, also eat foods rich in Lysine like yogurt. Drink lots of fluids and rest. You can take Lysine on a daily basis to prevent outbreaks also try echinacea another vitamin that builds up your immune system.
  • As soon as you feel like your about to have a out break, keep the infected area clean and dry. You can keep it dry by using a cornstarch powder and sleep without underwear.
  • If you are on the Depo shot to prevent pregnacy, and you develope genital herpes, stop taking the shots. I had it so bad they were about to do laser surgery, but I stopped the depo and they all dissappeared within a few weeks.

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Special considerations or prevention

Practice standard precautions.

  • Encourage the patient to get adequate rest and nutrition and to keep the lesions dry.

Other considerations include:

  • reassuring the patient that intimate relationships are appropriate and that she may still have children.
  • Teens who do have sex must properly use a latex condom every time they have any form of sexual intercourse (vaginal, oral, or anal sex).
  • advising the female patient to have a Papanicolaou test every 6 months.


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