Genital Herpes is the name given to an infection caused by the Type 2 Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV 2) and to a lesser extent Type 1 Herpes Simplex Virus. The infection is located on the skin and mucous membranes of the genitalia of a man or woman. (Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV 1) is most often found as cold sores on the lips and nose).
By the time most people reach adulthood they have been infected with HSV 1 and have developed antibodies in their blood. Only some of these people will develop cold sores on the lips and nose from time to time. Few people actually contact HSV 2 in childhood as it is predominantly spread through sexual contact.
Originally it was thought the HSV 1 only infected the lips and nose and HSV 2 only affected the genitals. This has since been proven incorrect. HSV 1 can also cause genital herpes, usually through oral sex though most genital infections are caused by HSV 2.
Between five and seven days after infection, a male will develop a small itchy area on the shaft of his penis and the female has a similar itchy area on the inner surface of the genitals. Within 24 hours of the development of symptoms, small crops of painful, reddish bumps appear in the itchy area, and usually by the next day these will form small blisters. The area can be very painful and tender. Sometimes the area may be swollen and urination becomes difficult and painful. fever - adults may be present with a general feeling of tiredness.
The Herpes virus is spread from one person to another during sexual contact, providing the infected partner has visible lesions. Sexual contact should be avoided during the time of active infection as it is very contagious. During oral sex the virus can be transmitted from a cold sore on the lips or the face to the genitals of the partner. The chance of being infected is greater if the uninfected partner has broken skin. Genital Herpes is not transmittable through blood or saliva, and is not an airborne virus. If a herpes sufferer breathes or coughs on you, you will not contract the virus.
Although the sores usually heal themselves, the virus stays in the body as a latent infection in the nervous system (in the root of the nerves). Even after the active infection has healed and there is no obvious infection, the Herpes infection can reappear. The first episode of Herpes is usually the worst, with recurrent episodes being less severe. The Herpes virus can lie dormant for long periods of time and usually reappears when the body's immune system is lowered, such as during colds or influenza, when tired or under stress. Excess exposure to the sun, indulging in alcohol and smoking and physical trauma to the area can all trigger an active Herpes infection.
It is possible for the lesions to occur around the anus and in the rectum in homosexual men, or women who are exposed to the virus in that area.
As with all conditions your Doctor should be consulted. Your Doctor will diagnose and treat this condition. Ask your Doctor about the latest advice on this ailment. Usually there is an examination and a swab taken from the blisters or ulcers while they are still present. Blood tests are not reliable. The usual treatment by your Doctor for the first outbreak is a five to ten day course of an antiviral drug if severe. Antiviral drugs are not a cure but help speed up the healing. The earlier the treatment is administered the more dramatic will be the response. Treatment of the first episode with antiviral drugs does not decrease the likelihood of recurrent attacks.
Ask your Pharmacist for advice. 1) Follow the diet hints 2) Remember that prevention is the answer for this ailment. Always use condoms. 3) Bathe in cool salt water and wear loose clothing and cotton underwear. 4) Rest as much as possible and drink plenty of fluid to dilute the urine. 5) An ice pack applied at the first hint of tingling can help prevent outbreaks. Ask your Pharmacist for a cold pack. 6) Consider some nutritional supplements if the diet is inadequate. Taking Lysine may be beneficial in some cases.
By increasing the ratio of the amino acid Lysine to Arginine, it may be possible to prevent further attacks or decrease the severity and duration of an active infection. Increase all foods which are rich in the amino acid Lysine, found in fish, chicken, lamb, milk and brewers yeast. Decrease all foods which are rich in Arginine. These include most nuts (especially peanuts, peanut butter, cashews, pecans, almonds), chocolate and seeds. Try to follow a healthy diet which includes wholegrains, breads, pasta, legumes (beans, peas, lentils etc), fresh fruit and vegetables, dairy products, lean meats and fish. Avoid sugar, highly processed foods, foods which are high in saturated fats (fried foods, pastries, fast food etc.), ice cream, sweets and lollies. A healthy diet also requires a variety of foods, so try to avoid eating the same diet by including different fruits, vegetables, legumes and pulses from week to week. This way your body gets a range of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients which are important for good health. Drink alcoholic beverages only in moderation and try to have around 6-8 glasses of pure water each day.
Lysine is available as a vitamin supplement and is best taken in conjunction with vitamin C and zinc to boost the immune system. Vitamin B Complex may assist in dealing with the physiological effects of stress. The herb echinacea is thought to have an immune stimulating effect. The essential oil from the herb lemon balm is thought to inhibit the Herpes virus and can be applied as an ointment directly to the lesion.
NOTESHealth Authorities recommend that the most recent sexual partner should be told. Partners as far back as the past month should also be informed.