Herpes in the genital area is caused by a virus and is very common. It is transmitted mainly through sexual contact. Most people who have herpes in the genital area get so mild symptoms that they do not know that they have herpes.

It has become increasingly common for herpes around the mouth to be transmitted to the genital area.

Symptoms of herpes in the genital area

Common symptoms if you have herpes in the genital area are

  • tenderness when touched
  • swelling and itching
  • burning and grinding pain
  • blisters and wounds
  • reddish skin
  • that it hurts when you pee
  • that an area may feel alternately hot and cold.

The nerves of the abdomen, groin and upper thighs are joined together. Therefore, you may have herpes symptoms

  • at the rectum opening
  • on the buttocks and thighs
  • in the urethra
  • in and around the vagina
  • on the penis or scrotum.

Most people who get herpes in the genital area have no or so mild symptoms that they do not notice the infection.

The first time you get herpes

If you get symptoms of herpes in the genital area, they usually appear between three and seven days after the virus is transmitted.

It often starts with you getting skin or mucous membranes around the genitals. It can also burn, knit, itch or feel alternately hot and cold. Then blisters are formed, which burst and become wounds. The first time you get a herpes infection in the abdomen you can also get a fever and swollen lymph nodes in the groin. It can sometimes take up to about three weeks for the blisters, ulcers, and pain to disappear.

Herpes may come back

Once you have had herpes, the virus stays in your body for the rest of your life, even after the symptoms disappear. Some of those who have had symptoms such as blisters and ulcers on the first occasion may recur later.

When you get herpes again, the symptoms are often milder. They also disappear faster than in the first instance. Usually within five to ten days.

New herpes outbreaks can be associated with, for example, stress, fatigue, menstruation, other infections or if you have a reduced immune system. The first year after you have herpes, it is common for you to have several new outbreaks. The number of outbreaks usually decreases over time. Between the outbreaks, you usually have no problems.

When should I seek care?

Seek care if you

  • suspect you got herpes in the genital area for the first time
  • has frequent and severe problems of herpes
  • receives permanent wounds and blisters
  • if the eye starts to burn or drain.

You can seek care at a health care center, a gynecologist’s office or skin and genital clinic, known as a venereal clinic. They have different names in different places in the country, such as the sex reception, Sesame, the reception for sex and cohabitation, STD or STI.

Those who are pregnant and have painful rashes or blisters in the abdomen that you believe may be due to herpes should seek care at a midwife or maternity ward.

Seek immediate medical attention if you become very ill from herpes, with symptoms such as a stiff neck or severe headache. In rare cases, herpes can cause meningitis.

You can seek care at any healthcare center you want throughout the country. You also have the opportunity to have a regular doctor’s contact at the health center. 

Then herpes is transmitted into the genital area

Herpes in the genital area is transmitted mainly through sexual contact. It is very difficult to avoid the virus being transmitted upon contact between skin and mucous membranes between people having sex. The virus is most easily spread when you have blisters and ulcers. But most people get herpes from someone who has no symptoms at all.

Wash your hands to avoid spreading

If you have herpes in the genital area it can spread to the eye. Therefore, it is important to wash your hands after you have been to the toilet, showered or affected areas where you have herpes rash. You should avoid looking at your eyes while you have a rash.

Herpes is not transmitted via objects

The herpes virus is sensitive to air and does not survive outside the body. Therefore, it is transmitted only through skin contact and mucosal contact and not through objects such as toilet seats, bathtubs or towels.

In the case of sex toys, these should be washed to avoid the spread of STDs in general. First, clean them with soap and water to remove body fluids. Then spray them with hand spirit, chlorhexidine or alcohol.

Herpes is caused by a virus

Herpes in the genital area also called genital herpes, are caused by a common virus that spreads easily. It is common for adults to have received the virus sometime. Most people do not know if they have had herpes in the genital area because they have had so mild symptoms that they have not noticed.

Two types of herpes virus

There are two types of herpes viruses. Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 is most common and usually causes mouth ulcers, herpes around the mouth. Type 2 usually causes problems in the genital area. The two types can also spread to other parts of the body. It has become very common for herpes type 1 to also cause herpes in the genital area. It can be transmitted for example oral sex.

It is not as common for type 2 to spread to the mouth, but it can happen. Then you can get herpes in the pharynx. It causes symptoms similar to throat flux and can be very painful.

How can I prevent herpes in the genital area?

Herpes is often spread in the genital area. Therefore, a condom or lick does not provide secure protection against the transmission of the virus upon sexual contact with someone who has herpes. However, most people who have the virus do not know about it themselves, as many do not get any symptoms.

You reduce the risk of having herpes in the genital area if you avoid having sex with someone who has an ongoing infection.

Taking antiviral drugs before sex with a person who has herpes in the genital area does not provide any safe protection against getting herpes.

What can I do for myself?

If you have a lot of pain, you can take painkillers containing paracetamol, such as Clevedon or Panadol. You can also lubricate the skin that sores with a stunning prescription ointment called Xylocaine. The drugs can be purchased without a prescription at a pharmacy.

If you are in pain, you can reduce the discomfort by having loose clothing. It is also good to shower the abdomen every day to prevent bacteria from getting into the wounds.

Treatment of herpes in the genital area

Herpes in the genital area goes by itself and there is no treatment to cure the disease. However, if you have severe problems, you may be prescribed antiviral medication by a doctor. It is taken in tablet form. Antiviral drugs relieve the symptoms and shorten the time you have trouble. They help against both types of herpes. In order for the drug to have a good effect, you should start taking the tablets as soon as you start to notice symptoms.

If you have severe herpes problems in the genital area, you may need to take antiviral medication every day for a longer period of time to prevent new herpes outbreaks.

Investigation

A doctor can usually determine if you have herpes by looking at the rash. In some cases, they may take a sample from the blisters. The sample is taken with a cotton swab from the wound fluid. It can hurt a little, but usually does not hurt.

Complications

The blisters and ulcers usually heal nicely, but bacteria can enter them so that they become infected.

In rare cases, herpes in the genital area can cause meningitis or inflammation of the brain.

Pregnancy and herpes in the genital area

Herpes in the genital area does not affect your ability to conceive.

Seek care at a midwife or maternity ward if you get painful rashes or blisters in the abdomen when you are pregnant. You can get antiviral drugs if you get herpes for the first time when you are pregnant, or if you have herpes outbreaks during the end of pregnancy.

If you get herpes in the genital area for the first time when you are pregnant, there is a small risk that the virus is transmitted to the baby in the stomach, but it is very uncommon.

If you have had herpes before in pregnancy

If you have had herpes before, new outbreaks during pregnancy will transfer antibodies to the baby in the stomach. There is still a risk that the virus can be transmitted to the baby at birth, but that risk is much lower than if you get herpes for the first time when you are pregnant.

Herpes in connection with childbirth

If you have an ongoing herpes infection at birth there is a small risk that the virus is transmitted to the newborn baby. The child can then get a serious and troublesome herpes infection. To prevent the virus from being transmitted to the baby, both you and the baby can receive antiviral drugs. In some cases, the child may be delivered by cesarean section.

Ehtisham Nadeem

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