Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus and spread through intimate contact. Genital herpes is characterised by painful sores, which develop in the genital areas. They are usually similar in appearance to blisters and they burst, leaving open sores.
Genital herpes is a chronic (long-term) condition, which tends to flare up from time to time. This is because the herpes simplex virus does not leave the body, it merely lies dormant. Those who have genital herpes may suffer from recurrent infections and the symptoms may differ from the primary infection. More information regarding genital herpes can be found here.
Symptoms of Genital Herpes
Aside from the painful blisters around the genital area, genital herpes can also cause additional symptoms, including:
- A high temperature
- General unwell feeling
- Sores in the rectum or cervix in women
- Pain when urinating
- Unusual vaginal discharge.
Symptoms of a recurrent infection (when the patient has already been infected and suffered symptoms before) include:
- A burning sensation around the genitals
- Painful blisters on the genitals, thighs and the rectum and on the cervix in women.
3 Ways to Relieve the Symptoms of Genital Herpes
There is no cure for genital herpes, but there are treatments that can help to ease symptoms and relieve pain caused by recurrent infections; these include:
- Keeping the affected area clean: hygiene is important at the best of times, but it is particularly important when you have genital herpes. Try to keep the affected area as clean as possible by using a cloth to dab warm water or salt water on the blisters. This may be painful but it will help to prevent sores from getting infected and the skin on the legs from sticking together when you walk.
- Apply ice to the blisters: applying ice is an effective pain relief method and it also helps to ease the burning sensation, which is commonly experienced by those who have a recurrent infection. Place an ice pack inside a cloth and hold the cloth on the blisters. Do not place ice directly on the skin, as this can cause damage to it. It is also a good idea to avoid wearing tight clothing, so that your clothes do not stick to the blisters and it is not painful when you put your clothes on or take them off.
- Apply petroleum jelly: applying petroleum jelly to the blisters helps to relieve pain and soreness when you put on your clothing and when you urinate. It is also really important to drink plenty of water to jeep you hydrated and to dilute your urine. This will reduce pain and discomfort when you go to the toilet.
These self-help methods are generally recommended for patients with a recurrent infection. Primary infections are usually treated with a course of anti-viral medication (usually acyclovir). However, they can also be beneficial for patients who have symptoms for the first time as a means of reducing pain. If you have an active infection, it is important to avoid sexual or intimate contact with others, as this will cause the infection to be spread.