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What are genital herpes?

Genital herpes are a common sexually transmitted infection caused by a virus called Herpes simplex. This can affect the genital/anal area, mouth (cold sores), nose, fingers and hands (whitlows).

It can be passed through sexual contact and most likely to be passed on just before, during or immediately after an outbreak.

Symptoms

Many people will not have signs/symptoms. For others, symptoms become apparent within 4-5 days of coming into contact with the virus, or it may be weeks/months/years before symptoms appear.

You may experience flu like symptoms, stinging, itching or small blisters in the genital/anal area.

Testing

It is only possible to diagnose if you have a check-up when you have signs/symptoms. This will involve the doctor or nurse looking at the affected areas of your skin.

Treatment

Treatment aims to relieve pain and prevent the virus from spreading. It involves taking anti-viral tablets. You can seek tests and treatment at a GUM or sexual health clinic or your general practice.

Untreated genital herpes

Genital herpes will clear up by itself; however seeking treatment may help to shorten the time the outbreak lasts and avoid passing on the virus to others.

Protection

Blisters and sores caused by the herpes virus are highly contagious. If you or your partner has cold sores or genital herpes you should avoid kissing when you have cold sores around your mouth, avoid oral, genital and anal sex when you have genital sores or blisters.

For more information see:
FPA http://www.fpa.org.uk/sexually-transmitted-infections-stis-help/genital-herpes
NHS Choices http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/genital-herpes/pages/introduction.aspx

 

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