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Signs and symptoms of Genital Herpes

Snr By Dr Poonam Sachdev , Expert Content / Jan 18, 2013
Signs and symptoms of Genital Herpes

Signs and symptoms of genital herpes in aninfected person do not begin right away. The symptoms start after a few days (the incubation period) that is abouttwo weeks after becoming infected.

Signs and symptoms of genital herpes in aninfected person do not begin right away. The symptoms start after a few days (the incubation period) that is abouttwo weeks after becoming infected. During the incubation period the person will feel perfectly fine. Read to know more on signs and symptoms of genital herpes.

Primary infection: Everyone infected with herpes does not develop symptoms after the initial infection. Many people in fact, do not have any symptoms during the initial infection -- but are contagious and can still spread the disease. Besides this the signs and symptoms of HSV infection can be mild in many people so that they may go unnoticed. People who develop signs and symptoms of the infection may have both systemic symptoms and genital symptoms.

Systemic symptoms: Generalised or whole-body symptoms that occur in genital herpes include:

  • decreased or loss of appetite
  • fever
  • malaise and fatigue (general sick feeling and tiredness)
  • muscle pain that is aches in the lower back, buttocks, thighs, or knees.

Genital symptoms: A few days after exposure the person may develop pain or itching at the infected site (vagina, anus, penis mouth). After several days, small fluid filled blisters may appear which rupture, to become ulcers that ooze or bleed. The ulcers heal in a few days without scarring. During the primary infection groups of small, painful blisters tend to erupt in crops over 1-2 weeks (around your genitals and/or anus). The blisters ulcerate and the ulcers and blisters can last up to 10-20 days.This first outbreak usually occurs within 2 weeks of exposure.

  • In women the ulcers and blisters may occur on the outer vaginal lips (labia), vagina, cervix, around the anus, and on the thighs or buttocks.
  • In men the symptoms of genital herpes (blisters and ulcers) are usually found on the penis, scrotum, around the anus, on the thighs or buttocks.
  • Other areas in which the blisters and ulcers may occur include the tongue, mouth, eyes, gums, lips, fingers, and other parts of the body (in both the sexes).

Other symptoms which may occur in an infected person during an outbreak include:

  • Enlarged and painful lymph nodes in the groin.
  • Painful urination (due to inflammation of the urethra. If the pain is very severe catheterization of the urethra to drain the urine may be needed)
  • Vaginal discharge in women.

Recurrent herpes outbreak: After the initial infection the virus remains dormant in a near-by nerve and it travels down the nerve fibers to the site of the original infection during reactivation. The second or repeat herpes outbreaks are usually less severe and shorter than the first outbreak. During a herpes outbreak, lesions appear at the original site of infection (genital herpes or cold sores if the primary infection was around the mouth). The symptoms may recur many times in year in some people whereas other may have few recurrence(may be even years apart). During recurrence the symptoms usually last 7-10 days, unlike 10-20 days during the primary attack.

Some of the trigger factors for reactivation of the infection include;

  • fatigue or tiredness
  • genital irritation (like sex)
  • menstruation
  • stress (physical or emotional)
  • trauma.

However many people do not have any obvious trigger factor for reactivation or recurrence of outbreak.The numbers of outbreak tend to decrease over time.




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