Herpes infection is a sexually transmitted disease caused by herpes virus. Herpes have two types: Herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2. Herpes simplex type 1 is otherwise known as oral herpes while herpes simplex type 2 is genital herpes. Oral herpes is commonly known as cold sores that affect the lips and oral cavity and is transmitted through kissing and licking. On the other hand, genital herpes involves the reproductive system and is sexually transmitted. However, herpes simplex type 1 has been documented to cause genital herpes because of other sexual practices such as oral sex.

The symptoms of herpes type 1 and herpes type 2 are similar in terms of the characteristics of the sores; however, they differ in location and associated symptoms. Genital herpes may lead to herpes symptoms such as:

  • Blisters or sores on the genitals that are painful or itchy
  • Enlargement of lymph nodes in the inguinal area
  • Tingling and burning sensation on the skin around the blisters
  • Painful urination
  • Painful sexual intercourse
  • Fever and body malaise

Herpes is a lifelong disease although it may go into remission or a phase when the herpes virus becomes inactive. Exacerbations may happen when the immune system of the patient is weakened as in the case of concurrent infections. Management is thereby focused on supportive care to control the herpes symptoms.

Herpes testing is done to arrive at a definite diagnosis of herpes. Various herpes tests are done to diagnose herpes such as physical examination of the blisters, pelvic examination and palpation of inguinal lymph nodes. In addition laboratory testing of the sample tissues around the blisters are done to detect herpes simplex virus infection. Blood tests are also available as herpes test through certain immunoassays.

In order to prevent exacerbation of herpes, the patient should ensure a strong immune system such as taking vitamin C, mineral supplements, eating a balanced diet, exercising adequately and preventing other infections. Caution during sexual intercourse should also be ensured to prevent spread of the disease because it can still be transmitted during remissions.

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