Genital Herpes in Women

Genital herpes is caused by either the type 1 or type 2 sexually transmitted herpes simplex (HSV) viruses. A person that is already infected with the disease can pass the virus to others through sexual contact. Areas covered in mucus such as the vagina, genital skin, and the mouth lining are the main sources of transmission. Women are more inclined to contract the disease than men, and there are three main reasons why this is the case. One reason is that when compared to a man, the genital area of a woman is larger. Second, a woman’s genitalia contains cells that are moistened by body fluids. Third, during menstruation, women undergo certain hormonal changes that can cause the immune system to weaken. This causes her body to become more susceptible to viral infections.

Herpes genitalis

Herpes genitalis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Symptoms of Genital Herpes Virus in Women:

  • Difficulty urinating, unusual discharge from the vagina
  • Pain in the genital area, buttocks, and legs
  • Headache, muscle pain, joint pain, and fever
  • Excessive abdominal area pressure
  • Burning and itching in the genital region
  • Glands swelling around the groin region

All of these are followed by an explosion of herpes lesions. The lesions appear as little red bumps that later turn into painful blisters. The exact size of these blisters can range from very small pimple-like spots to coin sized areas. The lesions form, then encrust, and finally heal without leaving behind any evidence of a scar.

The symptoms of genital herpes in women usually appear between 2 – 10 days after contracting the virus, and they might last for 2 – 3 weeks. After invading the mucous membrane and skin, the herpes virus moves to the sensory nerves located near the bottom of the spinal cord, where it remains inactive. The exact reason explaining its dormancy remains unclear; however, it’s thought that the herpes virus waits for more favorable conditions such as a weakened immune system of the body. Under these conditions, the virus activates, then duplicates in the ganglia and moves along existing nerves heading towards the skin. Once the virus is at the skin, it multiplies, causing lesions to appear. The site is generally near or at the original virus lesion. This is the main reason that patients experience repetitive episodes of the herpes virus infection.

Natural Treatments for the Herpes Virus:

Wash the genital region with salt water at regular intervals. The water and salt mixture should be combined at a ratio of 1 teaspoon to salt t o 500 ml. of water.

  • Add more vitamin C to your diet. This boosts immunity, which will strengthen the body to help fight against the herpes virus.
  • Wearing cotton undergarment is advised. The cotton will ease any discomfort and help cure the herpes infection.
  • Applying ice to the region and upon the genital sores. It will relieve the burning and itching sensation.
  • You may use over the counter medicine such as paracetamol and aspirin to reduce the pain.
  • To ease discomfort during urination, dilute the urine by drinking plenty of water.

The discomfort caused from the genital herpes virus can be managed using the above home remedies; however, a medical diagnosis will be necessary in order to receive proper treatment and obtaining permanent relief from the infection. An accurate diagnosis can be more easily attained during an active herpes virus infection, and preferably during the time that the first symptoms occur. The diagnosis involves a physical exam, a medical history search, and a swab test of the person infected. Sometimes there are no physical signs, symptoms, or discomfort experienced by the infected person. In these situations, a blood test will be necessary. The antibodies against the herpes virus will give an indication to the presence of genital herpes.

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Posted in Herpes Information at August 21st, 2013. Comments Off.

Oral herpes symptoms in women

Herpes labialis is the scientific term for oral herpes, and it’s one of several diseases that the herpes simplex virus causes, this includes genital herpes, herpes keratitis; known to affect the eyes, herpes whitlow; known to affect the fingers, and herpes encephalitis, known to affect the brain and central nervous system. Herpes simplex encephalitis and herpes keratitis are considered to be serious medical conditions, and they can lead to death.   The herpes virus consists of two separate types, HSV 1 and HSV 2. Oral herpes emerges after a person contracts HSV 1. It’s HSV 2 that causes genital herpes; however, this isn’t always the case, and occasionally HSV 2 can cause oral herpes and HSV 1 can cause genital herpes. Genital herpes may also cause oral herpes and the other way around. Oral herpes is also referred to as fever blisters and cold sores.     Cold sore (Herpes labialis)

Early Indicators:

In women, early indicators include fever and oral sores. Asymptomatic infections may also occur, whereby there aren’t any immediate symptoms detected, but could emerge at a later stage in the virus.

Diagnostics and Transmission of the Herpes Virus:

When the initial symptoms oral herpes virus appear, it indicates that the infection has progressed to your skin and your mucus membrane, resulting in the development of fever and cold sores. This causes extreme pain and itching. Later, the virus progresses to the spine, where it resides in the ganglion. Here the virus reproduces, but remains relatively dormant. This is referred to as a latent period, and it’s a distinctive characteristic of the herpes infection. However, the virus may become active and reappear at any time, especially during periods of excessive stress levels.   The herpes virus spreads when it comes into direct contact with a person already infected with the virus, entering the body through body fluids and open sores. It’s best to avoid physical or sexual contact, especially if the virus is active and symptoms are apparent. During the dormant period, and when there aren’t any signs of the virus, it’s best to use protection during physical contact.

Prevention:

To prevent the spread of cold sores, it’s best to refrain from physical intimacy, especially if symptoms are present. Any exposed sores need to be routinely cleaned. When infected, touching, hugging, and kissing should be avoided. Hands need to be washed regularly. During sexual intimacy, a condom should be used to prevent the spread of the virus.

Treatment:

Treatment of the herpes virus is accomplished by implementing anti-viral medication such as valacyclovir, valtrex, and/or acyclovir. These help, to some extent, in decreasing the symptoms of the virus. Additionally, there are several individuals recommending unconventional remedies for the herpes virus, such as herbal treatments. How effective these treatments are is still under debate. Oral herpes infection is a traumatic and painful experience, and it can cause a great deal of personal discomfort and public criticism and disapproval.   The herpes virus can also be spread unknowingly because the virus doesn’t always reveal symptoms; it can remain active for two or three days before symptoms and sores appear. Although there is generally some pain and itching experienced by the infected individual, this is not always the case. It is entirely possible that the infected could unintentionally spread the virus to others during this time without even knowing it. To avoid contracting the herpes virus, it is strongly recommended that women maintain a high level of personal hygiene and use precautionary actions at all times.

Posted in Herpes Information at July 24th, 2013. Comments Off.

Symptoms of Herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease which is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). This virus can affect the genitals, the cervix, and skin anywhere else on the body. There are two types of herpes simplex viruses, and they are: a) Herpes Type 1 (HSV-1) or b) Herpes Type 2 (HSV-2).

Herpes is a chronic condition, which means that it can recur. This makes herpes a long-term illness. People that are infected with the virus may never experience symptoms, but can still be carriers. Many with HSV have recurring outbreaks. Recurrences happen more often following the initial infection. As time passes, the recurrences become fewer and fewer. As remission periods grow longer, the severity of the outbreaks will lessen.

The herpes simplex virus is highly contagious.

HSV can be easily transmitted from one human to the other. Close or direct contact with an infected person is how the virus passes. Vaginal, anal, or oral sex are the most common modes of transmission. HSV remains dormant for most people after it has been transmitted to them. These people don’t experience symptoms or outbreaks and usually don’t know that they’re infected.

English: Cold sore

English: Cold sore (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What are the symptoms of herpes?

Blisters and ulcers around the mouth or genitals become visible for those that do experience the symptoms of HSV. Most people won’t experience these symptoms for many months or years following infection. Those that experience symptoms initially will usually see them present 4 to 7 days after they’ve been infected with the virus.

What are the primary infection symptoms?

Primary infection is a term that is used for when a person has first become infected with HSV, when a visible outbreak is present. Symptoms experienced during primary infection are often more severe than with a recurrent outbreak. These symptoms can last up to 20 days and can include the following:

  • Ulceration and blisters on the cervix
  • Pain while urinating
  • Vaginal discharge
  • A high temperature/fever
  • General discomfort
  • Cold sores near the mouth
  • Red blisters on the external genital area, thighs, buttocks, and rectum. These blisters can leave behind ulcers.
  • Ulcers usually heal and won’t leave behind scars, for the most part.

What are the symptoms of a recurrent infection?

Once the patient has built up immunity to the virus, the symptoms become much less severe and don’t last as long. Often, these symptoms only last up to 10 days or fewer.

  • A burning sensation around genitals before blisters appear
  • Blisters and ulceration of the cervix may be present in women
  • Cold sores near the mouth
  • Red blisters on the external genital area, thighs, buttocks, and rectum. These blisters can leave behind ulcers.

Eventually, these symptoms will happen less frequently with less severity. Those with HSV-1 will have fewer recurrences than those with HSV-2 — the symptoms with HSV-1 will also be less severe.

What causes herpes?

HSV can be passed on to another person through direct contact with the moist skin around the genitals, anus, and mouth. The herpes simplex virus can also pass on to a person through other areas of human skin, including the eyes.

It is not possible for a person to become infected by touching an object that was used by a person who is infected; even if it’s a towel, a washbasin, or a working surface.

A person can, however, become infected via the following ways:

  • Not using protection during vaginal and/or anal sex
  • Performing oral sex on a person who has cold sores
  • Sharing sex toys
  • Coming into contact with the genitals of an infected person

Just before a blister disappears, HSV leaves the skin. This virus can be passed on before a blister is even visible and can still remain a risk until the blister has cleared up. However, HSV can pass on to another even when a blister isn’t present, although the chances are much slimmer.

It is also possible for a mother to pass on the genital herpes to her baby at the time of birth if cold sores are present.

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Posted in Herpes Information at June 23rd, 2013. Comments Off.

What are the ways to treat genital herpes?

Anyone suspecting that they may have genital herpes and/or are experiencing symptoms should go to the appropriate sexual health care clinic. All appointments are held in strict confidentiality. Ideally, a genito-urinary medicine specialist should be the one to diagnose the patient — but if that is not possible, seek out a general practitioner. Depending on the circumstances, a general practitioner may refer the patient to a specialist. First, though, the patient will be asked a series of questions regarding their symptoms followed by an examination.

It is easier to diagnose herpes when the virus is still present.

The doctor or health care professional will take sample of fluid from the infected site, which may mean breaking the blister if it’s present. This sample will be sent to a laboratory for testing. Negative results may not necessarily mean that the person doesn’t have genital herpes. Genital herpes can be better confirmed if the outbreak persists or repeats.

A blood test is another method of diagnosing genital herpes. That said, blood tests aren’t always accurate because they sometimes miss recent infections.

What are the ways to treat genital herpes?

  • Over-the-counter pain management medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Symptoms can sometimes be alleviated by bathing in a bath of salted water.
  • Some find that ice packs also help. Wrap the ice pack in a towel or cloth before applying to the skin.
  • Vaseline or petroleum jelly can be applied to the affected site.
  • Sometimes urinating can be painful, so it helps to apply something like lidocaine or some other cream to the urethra. Urinating while sitting in warm water has also been shown to soothe the pain.
  • Wear loose-fitting clothing near the affected area.
  • Make sure to wash your hands, especially if they’ve come into contact with the affected location.
  • Practice complete abstinence while symptoms persist, and don’t engage in sexual activity until the symptoms have vanished.

Medication as a method of treatment for genital herpes

No drug can get rid of genital herpes. Acyclovir is an antiviral that many doctors prescribe for genital herpes. Acyclovir is usually taken up to five times a day. This will prevent the virus from multiplying. Treatment with acyclovir lasts up to five days if the patient continues to get blisters and ulcers. Antiviral tablets reduce the severity of symptoms as well as help to clear the outbreak faster. Antivirals are given when the patient first produces symptoms. According to scientists from University of Washington Virology Research Clinic in Seattle, WA, USA as reported in The Lancet (January 2012); herpes can reactivate even after aggressive antiviral treatment.

Posted in Herpes Information at May 18th, 2013. Comments Off.