Genital Herpes

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Description

Herpes simplex virus, or HSV, is an extremely common viral infection. There are two herpes simplex viruses: Type I is more often associated with the common cold sore in and around the mouth. Type II is associated with genital herpes transmitted by sexual contact, producing sores in the cervical and vaginal area and on the penis.

Symptoms

  • Flu-like symptoms, including swollen glands, headache, muscle aches, or fever.
  • Red and sensitive skin
  • Small red bumps, which may develop into blisters or painful sores.
  • Small, thin-wall blisters filled with clear liquid. These blisters rupture, leaving shallow, painful sores which gradually form a scab and heal, usually in a 2 or 3 week period.
  • Pain when urinating.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in groin area.

Symptoms of herpes usually develop within 1 to 2 days after contact with the virus, although some people develop symptoms several months later.

Treatment

Although there is not yet a cure for herpes, appropriate treatment is effective in helping to control the disease. The health care provider may prescribe Acyclovir to reduce the discomfort and the frequency and duration of outbreaks. Once infected, a person will always harbor the virus, although subsequent recurrences, will generally be less severe than the first.

Prevention

  • If you are free of herpes infection, you can eliminate your risk entirely by not having sex or by having sex only with a non-infected partner who has sex only with you.
  • If you have a sexual relationship with a person who has herpes, avoid direct contact with the affected area during your partner’s recurrences.
  • Between outbreaks of the herpes virus, use latex condoms and spermicidal foams for addition, but not complete protection.
  • During an active infection, wash hands carefully to prevent spreading the infection to other parts of the body.
  • Proper nutrition, plus plenty of exercise and rest, can help keep your immune system healthy.

Complications

Especially during initial attacks of genital herpes, some may develop one or more complications: urinary retention, neuritis, and/or bacterial superinfection. Recurrences may occur every 14 days or only rarely. Recurring infections are often triggered by stress, physical activity, illness, menses, sun exposure, or other environmental or emotional changes.

Contagious

This infection can be spread from an infected person by genital-genital contact, or by oral-genital contact. Transmission can most easily occur during an outbreak, when sores or other symptoms of the infection are present.

For more information, please contact the Student Health Center at (970) 351-2412.

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