Herpes – genital; Herpes simplex – genital; Herpesvirus 2; HSV-2
Definition of Genital herpes
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted viral infection affecting the skin or mucous membranes of the genitals.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Genital herpes is caused by two viruses:
Many people with HSV-2 infection never have sores, or they have very mild symptoms that they do not even notice or mistake for insect bites or another skin condition.
Signs and tests
Tests can be done on skin sores or blisters to diagnose herpes. These tests are most often done when someone has a first outbreak and when a pregnant women develops genital herpes symptoms.
Genital herpes cannot be cured. However, antiviral medication can relieve pain and discomfort during an outbreak by healing the sores more quickly. These drugs appear to help during first attacks more than they do in later outbreaks. Medicines used to treat herpes include acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir.
Once you are infected, the virus stays in your body for the rest of your life. Some people never have another episode, and others have frequent outbreaks.
Susan Storck, MD, FACOG, Chief, Eastside Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, Redmond, WA; Clinical Teaching Faculty, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 9/13/2009