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Genital Herpes

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Definition

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted viral infection affecting the skin or mucous membranes of the genitals.

Symptoms

Many people with HSV-2 infection never have sores, or they have very mild symptoms that they do not even notice or mistake for insect bites or another skin condition.

If signs and symptoms do occur during the first outbreak, they can be quite severe. This first outbreak usually happens within 2 weeks of being infected.

Generalized or whole-body (systemic) symptoms may include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Fever
  • General sick feeling (Malaise)
  • Muscle aches in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, or knees

Genital symptoms include the appearance of small, painful blisters filled with clear or straw-colored fluid. They are usually found:

  • In women: on the outer vaginal lips (labia), vagina, cervix, around the anus, and on the thighs or buttocks
  • In men: on the penis, scrotum, around the anus, on the thighs or buttocks
  • In both sexes: on the tongue, mouth, eyes, gums, lips, fingers, and other parts of the body
  • Before the blisters appear, the person may feel the skin tingling, burning, itching, or have pain at the site where the blisters will appear
  • When the blisters break, they leave shallow ulcers that are very painful. These ulcers eventually crust over and slowly heal over 7 - 14 days or more

Other symptoms that may occur include:

A second outbreak can appear weeks or months after the first. It is almost always less severe and shorter than the first outbreak. Over time, the number of outbreaks tends to decrease.

Once a person is infected, however, the virus hides within nerve cells and remains in the body. The virus can remain "asleep" (dormant) for a long period of time (this is called latency).

The infection can flare-up or reactivate at any time. Events that can trigger latent infection to become active and bring on an outbreak include:

  • Fatigue
  • Genital irritation
  • Menstruation
  • Physical or emotional stress
  • Trauma

Attacks can recur as seldom as once per year, or so often that the symptoms seem continuous. Recurrent infections in men are generally milder and shorter than those in women.

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Blisters
Vesicles are small, fluid-filled sacs that can appear on your skin. The fluid inside these vesicles may be clear, white, yellow, or mixed with blood. These sacs may be very small, or they may be over an inch in diameter. Vesicles are also known as  More »

Vaginal Discharge
Vaginal discharge is most often a normal and regular occurrence. There are, however, types of discharge that can indicate an infection. Abnormal discharge may be yellow or green in color, chunky in consistency, and have a foul odor. Most abnormal  More »

Malaise
Unlike most other conditions, malaise doesn't have a precise set of symptoms. Instead, it is described as an overall sense of discomfort, illness, or simply not feeling well.Sometimes, a person can have a sudden onset of malaise. Other ti  More »

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