Genital herpes is a common STI caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV); Type 1 commonly appears around the mouth (cold sores) and Type 2
commonly appears on the genitals. Either type can occur in either area.
How is it passed on?
- Direct skin-to-skin contact – including vaginal, anal or oral sex.
HSV can be passed on even when there are no visible sores / symptoms.
Often no symptoms, but may include:
- stinging or tingling in the affected area around the genitals
- painful blisters or itchy sores on the genitals
- pain when peeing
- flu-like symptoms (tiredness, muscular aches, swollen glands)
If symptoms do occur, they usually only last for about a week but they can come back.
How is it tested?
- Physical examination of blisters or sores
- Swab sample from a blister or sore
How is it treated?
- Antiviral tablets can sometimes be helpful
- Mild pain relieving medication
- Creams to soothe irritation
- Salt water bathing
How can I prevent getting it?
- Avoid vaginal, anal or oral sex if blisters or sores are present – the virus is most infectious at this point.
- Use a condom and/or dam during vaginal, anal or oral sex (condoms will reduce risk although they only protect the area being covered).