The Herpes simplex virus (HSV) has two types, Type 1 and Type 2, and both can be present on your face and genitals.
The virus can be passed on during skin to skin contact such as sex, oral sex, kissing and sharing sex toys with somebody that is infected.
Not everyone who has herpes will show symptoms. For some it may take years for symptoms to appear.
Symptoms of herpes include:
- Flu-like symptoms such as tiredness, headache, aches and pains
- Burning, tingling or itching in and around your genital or anal area
- Small, fluid-filled blisters which can appear on your genitals, anus, thighs or bottom. The blisters typically burst within a few days which can leave small, red sores
- Pain when peeing
- For women, unusual vaginal discharge
There’s no cure for herpes, however symptoms usually clear up by themselves.
If you’re suffering from herpes for the first time, we can prescribe you with:
- Antiviral medicine which can help stop the symptoms from getting worse – you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
- Cream to help manage any pain
If you require treatment for a recurring outbreak, antiviral medicine may help speed up the healing process.
There are also many ways that you can also treat herpes yourself, such as:
- Keeping the area clean to prevent infection
- Applying an ice pack wrapped in a towel or taking painkillers to manage any pain
- Applying petroleum jelly, painkilling cream (such as 5% lidocaine) or pouring water over your genitals when you go to the toilet. This can help reduce any pain when you pee
- Wear loose clothing to avoid irritating your sores
- Avoiding vaginal, anal and oral sex until your sores have disappeared
It’s rare for genital herpes to cause long term health problems.
The virus remains in the body and can cause further outbreaks in the future.
If you’re pregnant and experiencing symptoms of genital herpes, it’s important to tell your midwife and/or obstetrician.
Your body may try and tell you when a recurrence is starting which usually presents itself with itching, tingling and aching where you’ve had blisters in the past. During this time we advise that you avoid skin to skin contact to avoid passing it on.