Genital Herpes, commonly known as herpes is a very common STD which affects both men and women. HSV-2 is the virus responsible for causing genital herpes (HSV-1 causes cold sores). Painful herpetic sores, especially around the genitals is a red flag for this STD. You get it by herpes through sexual contact with a person who already has it, whether it is vaginal, oral, or anal sex.
Genital herpes is a pretty serious condition which affects up to 16 percent of people between the ages of 14 and 49. As of 2018, there is still no cure for herpes, however, the condition can be managed. After being diagnosed with herpes, your doctor may give you medications to prevent outbreaks, or at least shorten them.
How Do You Know a Person Has Genital Herpes?
At the early stages of infection, you might not notice any symptoms that shout ‘infected with herpes’. In fact, a great percentage of people with herpes show no symptoms or else very mild ones in the early stages of infection. The first outbreak (symptoms of herpes) typically happens within a week of being exposed to the virus, but it could take longer.
More often than not, the first herpes outbreak is the most intense. When it happens, it might seem as though you have caught flu – fever, aches, and tiredness is common. This is followed by blistering. It may start with tingling, then blisters on or around your genitals, anus, thighs, or buttocks. When the blisters break, they leave sores that take a couple weeks to heal.
The entire outbreak may last for up to four weeks, after which the virus lies dormant. Subsequent herpes outbreaks are often shorter and less painful. These outbreaks usually start with a burning, itching, or tingling sensation where you had the first outbreak. Then, after a few hours, you will see the sores.
The duration and frequency of outbreaks differ for each person. However, the average number for a person with genital HSV-2 is 4 or 5 a year, while genital HSV-1 is once in a year. If you suspect you have genital herpes, it is important to go for a test. To check for herpes, your doctor usually does a physical exam and then likely orders one of these tests: Viral culture, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, or blood test. So, how do you manage genital herpes?
1. Antiviral Drugs
Antiviral drugs are prescribed by doctors as the first line of defense for people diagnosed with genital herpes. The following drugs are approved by the FDA and recommended for adults with genital herpes are from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) herpes treatment guidelines. However, your doctor will be the best person to decide which of these options is best for you.
- Aciclovir: Aciclovir, also known as acyclovir is primarily used for the treatment of herpes simplex virus infections. The usual recommended adult dosage is 800 mg administered every 4 hours, 5 times daily. Aciclovir tablets 400 mg reduces the frequency of herpes outbreaks.
- Famvir: This drug is used to treat both adolescents and adults with genital herpes. It is also used to treats outbreaks of herpes simplex that cause cold sores around the mouth, sores around the anus, and genital herpes. In people with frequent outbreaks of genital herpes, Famvir is used to help reduce the number of future episodes.
- Valtrex: is an antiviral drug which can be found under the name Valacyclovir. It is one of the most widely used and effective drugs on the market for treating and controlling cold sores, shingles, and genital herpes.
The above drugs are generic so you would find them under different brand names. All of these antivirals can be used to shorten or prevent outbreaks. Also, it is important that you know that the above list does not contain all the drugs that can be used to treat genital herpes. There are also herbal medications and placebo diets for people living with genital herpes.
2. Learn as Much as You Can About Genital Herpes First
As they say, ignorance kills faster than the disease, so, it is very important that you get all the information you can about genital herpes. For example, a person with absolutely no knowledge would not know that the virus can be passed to other parts of the body. This will help you to be prepared to answer any questions your partner may have. Also, explain what it means to have it.
Asides your talking with your partner, having a good knowledge of herpes will help you manage your outbreaks better. Some people get sores on their genitals occasionally, but many others get symptoms so mild they don’t even notice them.
3. Learn Your Triggers
Yes, just like many other medical conditions, genital herpes has its triggers, so, it is important that you learn your triggers. These triggers are different based on individuals, however, one thing is sure, they contribute to the recurrence of outbreaks.
Outbreaks can vary from a particular illness, poor diet or a particular food, emotional or physical stress, friction in the genital area, prolonged exposure to ultraviolet light, and steroidal medication. The frequency of outbreaks can often be managed through effective stress management, and adequate rest, nutrition, and exercise.
4. Avoid Scratching
It is quite obvious that the tingly sensation you have during outbreaks will encourage you to scratch or just touch it, but please don’t yield. Why? it is possible to pass the virus to other parts of the body by touching a genital ulcer and then rubbing other parts of the body.
If you have contact with a genital sore, it is important to wash your hands thoroughly. If you cannot overcome the urge to scratch or think you might scratch at night, you should cover the inflamed area with protective, breathable material.
5. Keep the Sores Clean
Keeping the sores that emerge clean during outbreaks is another way to manage this condition. This is because cold sores and genital herpes infections can become infected with bacteria from your hands or, in the latter case, from urine or feces. So, to avoid further infection It is important to keep the area of sores and blisters clean and dry.
6. Opt for Loose-Fitting Cotton Clothes
This may not be everyone’s favorite, but loose-fitting cotton clothes, especially underwear is a great way of managing herpes. Because air is essential to healing, wear only cotton underpants that allow your skin to breathe. If you wear nylon pantyhose, make sure the crotch is made of cotton. If you are a fashionista, you should also apply this rule to your tight fashion garments.
7. Try Propolis
Propolis is a sticky substance that bees produce from tree saps. This substance shows promise in the treatment of genital herpes. Studies have found that people who are treated with Propolis experience faster healing of herpes lesions and a higher likelihood of fully healed lesions by day 10 of treatment when compared to people who receive placebo.
P.S Before trying out any ‘new’ cure for genital herpes you see on the internet, make sure to do a thorough background study of the treatment. Also, it is important that your doctor also knows about it.