STI: Four warning signs of an infection with the herpes simplex virus – it has ‘no cure’

Genital herpes Marian's story NHS

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Up to 12 days following exposure to the herpes simplex virus, subtle symptoms of infection might begin to occur – and the risk of passing on the virus is lifelong. Experts at the Mayo Clinic highlight four warning signs of genital herpes. Firstly, there may be pain, tenderness, or itching in the genital area.

Secondly, there could “small red bumps” or “tiny white blisters” on the genitals.

And, thirdly, ulcers can develop, making it painful to urinate; as ulcers heals, scabs can form.

During an initial outbreak, “flu-like symptoms” might emerge, such as:

  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Headache
  • Muscle aches
  • Fever.

Many people, however, could be unaware that they carry the herpes simplex virus.

This is because a lot of people experience symptoms so mild that they are overlooked.

Furthermore, for some people, symptoms might not develop at all.

People displaying symptoms of genital herpes, for instance, could spread the infection elsewhere on the body.

For example, an infected person who touches open sores on the genitals, who then proceeds to rub their eyes, can cause the infection to spread.

Sores can develop on the buttocks, thighs, mouth, urethra, and cervix (in women).

The signs of genital herpes could recur, on and off, for many years.

While the infection is “highly contagious”, as the virus can not live for very long outside of the body, it is “nearly impossible” to get an infection from contact with toilets or towels.

“Each additional sexual partner raises your risk of being exposed to the virus that causes genital herpes,” the experts added.

Babies born from infected mothers can also be exposed to the virus during the birthing process.

How to prevent an infection with the herpes simplex virus

Aside from abstaining from sexual activity, you can limit sexual contact to only one person who is infection-free.

Alternative methods include using a condom during every sexual contact.

Once infected with the herpes simplex virus, there is “no cure”.

There is, however, treatment with antiviral medications to help lessen the severity of symptoms and to minimise the chance of transmitting the virus to others.

Sexual health clinics in the UK can only test for genital herpes if there are visible blisters or sores, the NHS stated.

This is because sexual health practitioners need to take a swab of oozing fluid from an open sore in order to test for the virus.

“Symptoms might not appear for weeks or even years after you’re infected with the herpes virus,” the NHS noted.

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