Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI). It causes small, painful, fluid-filled blisters. These blisters break open and leave a sore. They can be found on the sex organs, buttocks, or thighs. They can also spread to other parts of the body, such as the mouth, face, or eyes.
Symptoms depend on whether this is a primary or recurrent infection. The virus stays quiet between outbreaks. During this time, you may not have signs you can see, but the virus may still be shedding. This means it can spread during sex.
Primary infection is when you are first exposed to the virus. You may not have any symptoms or you may feel like you have the
flu. You may have fever, muscle aches, and swollen glands. Blisters may appear on the sex organs or other areas.
It may take about two to six weeks for the primary infection to get better.
A recurrent infection happens when the virus is reactivated. The symptoms and how long they last will differ.
Recurrent infections are shorter and less harsh. You will not have as many ulcers. The ones you have will be smaller. The blister or ulcer may have pain, tingling, burning, or itching.
You will need treatment right away. This lowers the chance that you will spread this to others. It will also help you get better faster. But keep in mind that the virus stays in your body. There is no cure. There are medicines to lower the chance that you will have a recurrent infection.
Antiviral medicines are used to treat this STI. They are used to treat a primary infection or a recurrent infection. If you have a recurrent infection, they are most helpful when you take them as soon as you notice symptoms.
If you have recurrent infections, your doctor may have you take this medicine daily to prevent an outbreak. This is called suppressive therapy.
If you have recurrent infections, your doctor may have you take antiviral medication every day to prevent an outbreak. This is called suppressive therapy.
You will be taught about genital herpes and how to avoid spreading it to sex partners. Your doctor will give you facts about the virus.
Herpes simplex. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at:
https://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/herpes-simplex. Accessed August 1, 2018.
6/14/2012 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance
: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Neonatal herpes simplex virus infection following Jewish ritual circumcisions that included direct orogenital suction—New York City, 2000-2011.
MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep.