Genital (or genital) herpes is an infection of viral origin that is transmitted during sexual contact and affects the mucous membranes of the genitals. The disease greatly worsens the quality of life, as it is manifested by burning, swelling and herpetic rashes.
What causes the disease, how it is treated and how it is dangerous, we will consider in this article.
What is genital herpes, varieties
Genital herpes is one of the most common STIs. The place of reproduction of the virus is skin cells and nerve cells. It is characterized by a high degree of susceptibility, as well as rapid adaptation to drug effects. With strong immunity, the disease does not show signs, but as soon as the defenses weaken, the virus begins to spread from the lymph nodes. With blood, herpes penetrates into organs and systems.
The main places of the lesion are female or male genitals, thighs and anus. In the area of the mouth and face, rashes do not appear.
The virus cannot be cured completely, a person remains its carrier for life. And with a slight malfunction in the usual rhythm of life, a stressful situation or a general illness, an exacerbation of genital herpes is possible.
The source of infection is the herpes simplex virus type II. In rare cases, it is possible to transmit sexual herpes of the first type from a carrier to a healthy person with strong contact of the skin or by airborne droplets.
According to the severity , there are three types of genital herpes:
- a mild disease in which exacerbations occur up to three times a year;
- medium degree, the active phase occurs once every two months or less;
- severe, in which a relapse of the disease occurs monthly.
Depending on the signs, herpes can be primary and secondary, asymptomatic and recurrent, as well as atypical.
Ways of infection
You can catch genital herpes:
- during unprotected sexual intercourse, when a viral agent penetrates through cracks in the mucous membranes;
- by oral means, through lip contact with herpetic vesicles;
- during close contact of the skin of an infected person with the skin of a healthy person in the presence of micro-abrasions on the mucous membranes or skin;
- when using things of a sick person, it rarely happens due to the instability of the virus to the external environment.
At birth, a child can become infected from a carrier mother of the genital herpes virus.
The source of infection is a liquid substance that the bubbles contain. Opening at least one during sexual intercourse gives a probability of infection of the partner almost 100%. At the stage of healing of skin rashes, infection will still occur during contact with human secretions.
Mechanism of disease development, causes
Factors predisposing to infection are:
- early onset of sexual activity;
- promiscuity in sexual relations;
- lack of barrier contraception;
- the presence of sexually transmitted diseases;
- weakened immunity.
Women are most predisposed to infection with genital herpes.
The period of time that the incubation period takes depends on the immune status of a person. Usually, the initial signs appear within two to thirty days after infection. When the acute period is over, relapses may occur within 14-21 days.
When the virus hits, the immune system tries to eliminate it by producing antibodies. However, in the nerve cells of the spinal cord, the virus is masked and fixed forever.
When favorable conditions arise, the virus begins to actively reproduce. After the bubbles mature, their shell bursts with the outflow of the contents, and crusts form in their place. It takes 14-21 days to restore the skin.
The virus present in the body may be inactive for a long time. They can start the process:
- the onset of pregnancy;
- hormonal changes;
- strong emotional shock;
- hard physical labor;
- skin injuries in the form of burns;
- skin diseases;
- viral and bacterial infections;
- AIDS or HIV.
The disease requires mandatory treatment, so in its absence, the infection will affect the internal organs with more severe consequences.
Symptoms of the disease
Typical signs of genital herpes are as follows:
- skin rashes in the perineum area – bubbles with liquid;
- puffiness and redness of the skin around them;
- unbearable burning and itching sensation at the site of rashes;
- enlargement of the inguinal lymph nodes.
Additionally , the initial stage of the disease may be accompanied by:
- increase in body temperature;
- discomfort when going to the toilet;
- inflammation of the genitals;
- an increase in general weakness, accompanied by a headache.
In severe forms, bubbles appear massively and on large areas of the body, a person complains of severe pain and itching.
How to make a diagnosis
To prescribe treatment for genital herpes, the doctor conducts a survey and examination. The patient will have to remember the time of occurrence of the first complaints, the appearance of such symptoms earlier, as well as answer questions:
- about self-treatment;
- having sex during illness and the number of sexual partners;
- about the presence of chronic diseases, allergies.
During the examination, the doctor pays attention to the localization and appearance of rashes, the severity of inflammation and swelling. Women are examined on a gynecological chair, and men have their prostate palpated. Also assign:
- UAC and OAM;
- blood test for biochemistry;
- scraping/smear from the tissues of the lesion site and sending the material for microbiological analysis;
- blood testing for immunoferments;
- PCR analysis to determine the presence of the virus in the blood.
How to treat genital herpes
The therapy of the disease is aimed at inhibiting the reproduction of the viral agent, relieving the patient’s condition and reducing the number of relapses.
The following groups of drugs are used:
- immunomodulators: interferons, in the form of suppositories or ointments;
- acyclic nucleosides: for example, Acyclovir in tablets and cream;
- combined medications: Herpferon ointment with interferon, lidocaine and acyclovir;
- remedies with analgesic effect;
- UV irradiation for the healing of ulcers and wounds, achieving stable remission.
Antibiotics are not used in the treatment of genital herpes. During the course, physical contact, sexual activity and kissing are prohibited. The carrier of the virus is a constant source of infection, so the use of a condom in the future is mandatory.