DISEASE OF THE WEEK...GENITAL HERPES.
WHAT IS GENITAL HERPES? –Genital herpes are sexually transmitted infections which show up as blisters or sores on the genitals, caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of virus, HSV Type 1 is common on the mouth known as cold sores. VHS Type 2 is common on the genitals, but both viruses can infect both of those areas.
HOW DO YOU GET INFECTED WITH HERPES? –Genital herpes is spread when skin to skin contact is made with a person who is infected with the virus, especially during sexual activity. Cold sores on the mouth can also spread to the genitals during oral sex. The virus stays in the nerves of the infected area of skin, appearing to go away for some time but then can flare up again. Herpes happen to be most infectious at the first signs of sores developing until the scabs have gone, first signs being tingling skin, numbness & shooting pains. You can even pass on herpes to someone even if there are no visible sores or blisters, but this is most likely in the first 2years of infection.
HERPES & PREGNANCY –If a woman is pregnant & infected she can pass herpes on to her baby during pregnancy or at birth causing serious illness. It’s most serious in women who show their first symptoms of herpes just before giving birth. If you already have the virus when falling pregnant you more likely to have protective antibodies which can protect the baby too. If you or your partner have herpes, it’s best to tell your doctor so as he can assess possible risk at birth or to the baby.
SYMPTOMS –When first infected there may not be any symptoms or sores at all. However the first time you do get sores or blisters is usually the worst. Some people may feel unwell as if getting the flu, then small blisters will appear. They then burst & become sores, later becoming scabs with the skin healing after 1 to 2 weeks. In females the blisters may appear around the vagina, urethra, cervix, anus or between the vagina & anus. In male’s blisters may appear on the penis & foreskin, sometimes the urethra, on the scrotum, anus or between the scrotum & anus. Although herpes sore outbreaks can heal, the virus stays in the body & you can have recurring outbreaks.
TREATMENT –There are anti-viral drugs that can be prescribed by your doctor. These can ease the pain & severity of the sores & blisters. If you have lots of recurring outbreaks you need to take medicine all the time. Unfortunately there is no cure for herpes so anti-viral drugs can’t cure you or prevent you from passing on herpes to another person. They can however help to reduce your symptoms.
Enjoy and be safe everyone!