Herpes symptoms (we’re talking about genital herpes here) are generally caused by the herpes simplex virus HSV-2, although genial infections can also occur with HSV-1.
Infection typically occurs during unprotected sexual activity with an infected partner, although infection may also occur through contact with someone with an oral outbreak of the virus.
The common genital herpes infection symptom is tiny fluid-filled blisters on the skin or mucus membranes.
Between outbreaks the virus remains dormant inside the nerve cells in the region of the outbreak.
Following a trigger, the virus reactivates and travels back to the surface to begin the blister outbreak cycle again.
- painful fluid-filled blisters (on genitals, thighs, buttocks, or anus)
- general feeling of illness, flu-like symptoms
- burning sensation when urinating
- blisters preceded by tingling, itching, or burning in the area for recurrent infections
Diagnosis is typically through laboratory culture of a swab of the outbreak area. A blood test is also performed to identify antibodies to the virus.
There is no cure for herpes. Antiviral cream treatments are focused on the relief of the genital herpes infection symptoms, reducing the incidence of occurrence, or shortening of the duration of recurring outbreaks.
Prevention is key for control of the spread of the disease. Use of a condom during sexual activity and avoiding oral contact with infected individuals during outbreaks are effective measures.