herpes in Ireland
Genital herpes is one of the most common viral sexually transmitted diseases
(STDs) in the world but it is rarely dangerous compared with other STDs. In
1994, 173 cases of genital herpes were reported in Ireland; in 1997, this figure
had risen to 211.
is genital herpes?
Genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex type two (HSV-2). HSV-1 usually
causes cold sores or lesions in the mouth or on the lips and face. Genital herpes
is a sexually transmitted disease that produces painful blisters on the genitals
of both men and women.
is genital herpes passed on?
The infection can be passed during sexual intercourse or by other intimate
contact with the genitals, mouth, or rectal area. You may also spread it with
your hands if they become contaminated. Once you're infected, the virus remains
in your body for the rest of your life. Usually it is inactive, which means
that it is not causing symptoms. However, the virus may become active again
and the disease may recur. Outbreaks may occur in times of physical or emotional
stress or trauma.
are the symptoms of genital herpes?
Symptoms of genital herpes usually begin within a couple of weeks following
infection, but symptoms may also appear later or not at all some people
infected with herpes have no symptoms. The signs of infection vary but may include:
- Painful sores/lesions on the genitals these usually appear first
as tiny clear blisters and then look like small pink or red shallow sores
that are tender to the touch. The blisters usually appear in clusters but
it is possible to have just a single blister.
- General muscle pains and aches.
- Vaginal discharge.
- Painful urination.
- Inability to urinate normally.
- Pain during intercourse.
- Tender, enlarged lymph nodes in the groin.
can I protect myself from genital herpes?
- If you do not have herpes infection, you can eliminate your risk entirely
by having sex only with a non-infected partner who has sex only with you.
- Ask your partner(s) whether they have had herpes remember that herpes
can be spread from areas not protected by condoms (groin, thigh, and abdomen).
- If your partner has herpes, you must avoid intercourse during your partner's
recurrences until the area is completely healed and new skin has formed.
- Use latex condoms and spermicidal foams every time you have intercourse
- Avoid oral-genital and oral-anal sex with someone who has cold sores
these are caused by a related virus (HSV-1) that can infect the genitals.
long does an outbreak last?
The first outbreak of herpes usually lasts 710 days, although it can
continue for a few weeks. During this time the lesions will shrink and dry up.
is genital herpes diagnosed?
Your doctor may be able diagnose herpes on the basis of your history and examination
of the lesion. He/she may also take a sample of the lesion or the liquid from
the lesion and have it tested for the herpes virus.
Some hospitals also perform a blood test for herpes antibodies. However, a
blood test will not tell you whether you have an active outbreak or which herpes
virus you have been infected with.
is genital herpes treated?
Genital herpes cannot be cured, but the earlier the treatment is given the
more likely it is to prevent or reduce the severity of an attack. Antiviral
drugs will help to reduce the pain of the lesions and encourage faster healing.
Analgesic drugs (painkillers) may also help to soothe the discomfort.
can I do?
- Take all the medicine as prescribed and attending all follow-up appointments
recommended by your doctor.
- Use a disposable glove to apply medication this will help to avoid
spreading the infection to other parts of your body.
- Wear loose clothing, preferably cotton, to allow air circulation and to
avoid pressure on the skin, which may cause more blisters.
- Do not share towels or clothing.
- Do not use perfumed soaps, sprays, feminine hygiene deodorants, or other
chemicals in the genital area.
- Avoid excessive sunlight and heat, which may cause more blisters.
- Do not have any sexual contact while the lesions are active.
- A warm, salty bath can be very effective in treating the itch, discomfort,
and difficulties with urination that can occur during an acute attack.
is the outlook?
Once the virus enters your body, it stays there for rest of your life. Some
people never have another attack after the first and others suffer several attacks
every year, although the severity of the attacks will lessen gradually and the
periods between recurrences will grow longer. About half of those who have a
first episode never have a recurrence.
Those who have very frequent recurrences may be advised to take long-term low-dose
anti-viral medications to reduce the frequency of recurrences.
about herpes and pregnancy?
If a pregnant woman has an attack of genital herpes when the baby is due, a
caesarean section may be recommended to prevent the baby being infected during
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