Hello, hello! we’re back again. Third week in a row now! how time flies…
So STI Saturday this week will be looking closely at Genital Herpes. Below you’re gonna find out what Herpes is, how it’s diagnosed, what treatment is available, and the signs and symptoms of this STI.
So, what are we waiting for? Lets begin…
Herpes is caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV). There are two different types of virus HSV-1 or HSV-2. Both can cause Herpes on the genitals, the face (often called cold sores) and on the hand or finger (called herptic whitlow). Once you’ve caught Herpes, it stays with you for life.
Herpes is a virus that doesn’t always give you symptoms when first infected, it can lay dormant in your body for months or even years until you start having symptoms of the infection, this can be difficult for people in relationships, but if you explain the nature of herpes then it shouldn’t need to worry your partner too much, and you can carry on having sex (unless you have symptoms!). If it does give you symptoms after first infected, it can take up 7 days after exposure to the virus.
The first time you have an outbreak of Herpes, it is usually always the worst and most painful. Symptoms include: feeling unwell and run-down and achy with flu-like symptoms, small blisters that burst and leave open sores, these are found around the genital, anus, thighs and bum, these sores can often make urinating very painful (but I’ll let you know how to manage this). Women can also get the sores on her cervix and a change in discharge.
Some people have recurring outbreaks of herpes frequently, some people don’t have another outbreak at all. Once you have the Herpes Simplex Virus in your body, it never goes away, it just lies dormant. Stress and having a weakened immune system can trigger an outbreak again. It is usually less painful than the first outbreak as your body has started producing the right antibodies to fight the virus. Some people can determine when they’re about how have another episode, the symptoms of this usually include; a tingling, burning or itching sensation around the genitals, anus, legs or bum or cervix before any blisters start to appear, then when blisters pop up, they can burst causing open sores which can be painful and make urinating painful.
You can catch Genital Herpes if someone gives you oral sex when they have a cold sore. You can also pass it on when having sex with someone blisters or sores on your genitals, but also if they have no symptoms at all, and also through sex toys. Condoms do not always protect against the Herpes Virus as exposed skin is always at risk.
A formal diagnosis is only able to be made when you have open blisters, so the sexual health nurse can take a swab from the fluid. The examination will involve you undressing from the waist down, enough so that the nurse can examine and swab the area, this will be uncomfortable but it needs to be done! and then you’ll have to wait for the results. If they are certain it is Herpes, you may be given antiviral tablet to take which helps stops the virus from multiplying and getting worse. If it is a recurring infection, and symptoms are mild, the healthcare provider may ask you to manage your symptoms at home.
How to manage Genital Herpes at home = Keep the area clean using salt water to help soothe and speed up the healing time of the blisters. You could either make a cup of salt water and apply this to the sores directly, or you can make a shallow bath with salt water, you don’t need to make either too salty. It is very important to drink plenty of water, this is to dilute your urine and make it less painful. You could also pee while you’re sat in the bath or stood in the shower to dilute the urine that way, or you could even pour water over your genitals as you wee on the toilet. Or whatever you feel most comfortable with. Applying Vaseline to the sores can protect the sores as you wee.
Pleeaassee remember, Herpes is basically just a minor skin infection and is no different to getting a cold sore on your mouth. Nearly 70% of people will catch either HSV-1 or HSV-2 at some point in their lives, even without knowing, so do not feel ashamed of embarrassed that you’ve got symptoms.
Thanks for taking the time to read this blog! if you have any questions, comment below, send us an email (SexEd_@outlook.com) follow us on Twitter and Instagram for regular updates! xo