Q: IWENT TO my doctor for painful sores in my vaginal area, and I was diagnosed with herpes. Can you tell me more about this condition?
Genital herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), it is a very common, extremely contagious, sexually-transmitted infection, with no known cure. It initially presents as painful blisters and sores in the genital area. These lesions may also appear in other areas that have been exposed to the HSV – e.g. the mouth, anus, buttocks, low-back, fingers, thighs, eyes, etc.
Genital herpes is caused by either HSV-1 or more commonly HSV-2. The infection is self-limiting and rarely leads to any serious health issues.
- Initially tingling, burning or itching
- Followed by the appearance of (a cluster of) small blisters
- The blisters subsequently burst leading to open sores
- Blisters and sores are usually quite painful
- The sores become crusty when healing
- Swelling and tenderness of the glands in groin
- Flu like symptoms
- Painful urination
- An unusual vaginal discharge
Transmission of herpes
HSV-1 and HSV-2 are very contagious and are most frequently transmitted through direct contact with an infected person.
Genital herpes is most commonly transmitted via:
- Vaginal, oral, or anal sex
- Sharing sex toys with someone who has herpes
- Touching your herpetic sore then touching another area of your body
- Someone’s fingers, carrying herpes, touching another person’s genitals The virus can be passed from a previously infected person to another, even when there are no obvious signs or symptoms.
In many instances, the infected person may be genuinely unaware that they are carriers and by extension a potential disseminator of the herpes virus. Other conditions that genital herpes can be mistaken for: n An ingrown hair
- Bruising caused by shaving
- Another type of STD
- Bacterial vaginosis
An experienced practitioner can often make the diagnosis after taking a careful medical history and examining the area that is of concern to the patient. For confirmation of the diagnosis, the doctor may take a swab from the lesion and or send off blood to be tested for the herpes antibodies. Blood tests may also be taken for other STDs. It must be noted that while the doctor can make the diagnosis of a herpes infection, the doctor can not categorically tell anyone who gave them the infection or how long they were infected.
Genital herpes may reoccur from time-to-time.
The frequency of such recurrences vary from person-to-person. While some may have multiple episodes within a year, others may seldom see an outbreak. Generally, outbreaks become less frequent and less painful over time.
There are often warning symptoms prior to an outbreak. These most frequently include burning, tingling and itching in the spot where the lesion is about to appear.
When to consult a doctor:
If you suspect that you have a sexually transmitted infection, including genital herpes, you need to see a doctor as soon as possible.
Part 2 will appear in next Friday’s SEARCHLIGHT.
Author: Dr. C. Malcolm Grant – Family Physician, c/o Family Care Clinic, Arnos Vale, www.familycaresvg. com, clinic@familycaresvg. com, 1(784)570-9300 (Office), 1(784)455-0376 (WhatsApp) Disclaimer: The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and does not substitute for professional medical advice.
Please consult a medical professional or healthcare provider if you are seeking medical advice, diagnoses, or treatment. Dr. C.
Malcolm Grant, Family Care Clinic or The Searchlight Newspaper or their associates, respectively, are not liable for risks or issues associated with using or acting upon the information provided above.