Finding sores in the genital region can be quite unsettling, because it generally is an indication of the dreaded sexually transmitted disease. Sores on the genital, buttock or anal regions are generally indicative of genital herpes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, genital herpes infect 1 out of 5 teenagers and adults in the US and women are more susceptible. What's more alarming is this infection has shown an increase of 30% nationwide since 1970, especially among the teens and young adults. (1)
Types of genital herpes
Genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus. Its 2 common types are HSV Type 1 and HSV Type 2. While HSV-1 most commonly infects the mouth and lips and causes fever blisters or cold sores and genital sores, HSV-2, the usual cause of genital herpes, can infect the mouth.
Causes of genital herpes
Unprotected sex is the most common reason for genital herpes, as it can be easily passed to an uninfected partner during sex. Bad news is this infection can also be transmitted through oral sex or close skin-to-skin contact. But it doesn't spread through contact with a toilet seat or hot tub. The virus generally enters the body through the genital or rectal area, buttocks or thighs or through the broken skin on other parts of the body. It can also occur inside the vagina and in the cervix in women, or in the urinary passage of women and men.
Symptoms of genital herpes
Symptoms appear in the form of outbreaks. The first outbreak occurs within 2 weeks after infection and can last for several weeks. The symptoms can vary from person to person. In some this infection may cause tingling of the area from where the virus has entered the body, followed by the development of sores. Those infected find the occurrence of small red bumps, which develop into small blisters and eventually into itchy and painful sores.
In some, this infection may make the area cracked or raw, displaying some redness without pain, itching or tingling. Other symptoms usually accompanying the first outbreak are fever, headache, muscle aches, vaginal discharge, pain or difficulty in urination and swollen glands in the groin area. Even if you display mild or no symptoms, you can still transmit the virus to others!
Diagnosing genital herpes
The genital sores generally are indicative of typical genital herpes. But, in some cases, detection may be more difficult. Usually, the virus is detected by a culture test, in which a swab of the suspected herpes sore is taken and studied. The bad news is even if your culture doesn't show the presence of herpes, you may still have it!
A blood test can confirm this infection, but can't indicate an outbreak. However, type-specific blood tests do tell whether you're suffering from HSV-1 or HSV-2. But, none can tell between genital and other herpes infection. So, if the presence of HSV-2 is confirmed, your physician generally assumes you've got genital infection.
Avoiding the spread of genital herpes
All you need to do is to take some simple precautionary measures to prevent the spread of this infection, not only to other places on your body, but also to other people. First and foremost, never touch the infected area during an outbreak and always wash your hands thoroughly after contact with it. And secondly, don't have any form of sexual contact with anyone from the appearance of first genital symptoms, till they're completely gone.
Treating genital herpes
Bad news is there is no cure for genital herpes. However, some antiviral medicines are effective in treating the symptoms and in preventing future outbreaks. This helps decrease the risk of passing herpes to sexual partners. These medicines generally include Acyclovir (Zovirax), Famciclovir (Famvir) and Valacyclovir (Valtrex).
Genital herpes is an infection best avoided. So, always take all preventive measures, but if you do get saddled with it, don't hesitate in approaching your physician, as delay may aggravate the problem.