Herpes is a contagious viral diseases, caused by the herpes simplex virus. Herpes is generally of two types, oral herpes or cold sores, and genital herpes. There are two types of herpes simplex virus and they are known as herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 is more commonly known to cause oral herpes or cold sores, while HSV-2 generally causes genital herpes. Sometimes, genital herpes can also be caused by HSV-1. Both men and women can get this viral infection. But in general, it has been observed that women are more likely to get genital herpes than men. The virus can enter the body through small breaks on the skin or mucous membrane. The symptoms of primary infection can develop between 2 to 20 days after contacting the virus. After the initial infection, the virus migrate to the sensory nerves and lay dormant for a long time before causing the next outbreak. Both oral and genital herpes can produce several severe or mild symptoms. Another herpes virus is herpes zoster, that causes the disease shingles, which is however not be confused with oral and genital herpes.
Herpes in Women
As women can get infected by both HSV 1 and HSV 2, they can develop both oral and genital herpes. The symptoms of oral herpes in females are almost similar to those observed in males. Genital herpes symptoms can however, differ slightly between men and women.
The classic symptom of oral herpes is the development of blisters or sores near the mouth, lips, gums, inside of the cheeks, roof of the mouth and sometimes on the tongue and throat. Before the appearance of the actual sores, one can feel itching or burning sensation in those areas. Later on, the skin becomes red, which is then followed by the development of a cluster of small blisters or bumps. Afterward, the fluid filled blisters break open and form ulcers. Within a few days, the ulcers can look yellowish and crusted. The crusts or the scabs would eventually fall off, as the tissues heal. Occasionally, oral herpes can also be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as, muscle pain, fever and fatigue.
Genital herpes can be asymptomatic at times. This means that many people may not be aware of this viral infection, when they get it for the first time. When symptoms are present, the condition can be quite uncomfortable. Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease and women are more likely to get this infection. The symptoms of primary outbreak can be quite mild, for which many may fail to notice them. Like oral herpes, genital herpes can also cause the development of sores in women. Such sores appear as small red bumps or blisters in the genital or nearby areas. Before the development of the blisters, one can feel pain, itching and burning sensation in those areas.
Sores can develop anywhere in the genital area, buttock, anus and even cervix. The sores or ulcers rupture within a few days, which is then followed by crusting. The urinary tract can also be affected by this condition, which can cause painful urination. Other symptoms include vaginal discharge, muscle ache, headache, swollen lymph nodes in the groin, lower back pain and fever. Both oral and genital herpes can recur. The symptoms of recurrent infection are however, less severe and last for a shorter duration than the symptoms of primary outbreak. Various factors can trigger the recurrence of this viral infection, out of which the most important ones are stress, illness, surgery, menstruation and factors that can compromise the immune system like HIV/AIDS, use of steroid and chemotherapy.
As far as treatment for herpes is concerned, oral herpes usually does not require medical intervention, as the sores heal on their own within a couple of days. If the symptoms are too severe, then one might consider taking anti-viral medications for cold sores treatment after consulting a physician. Anti-viral medications are also used for genital herpes treatment. Medications that are more commonly used for herpes cure are acyclovir, famciclovir and valacyclovir, which are the oral anti-viral medications. Along with these, denavir is used for topical application. Anti-viral medications can be effective for preventing the future episodes of both oral and genital herpes. So, talk to your physician regarding the use of such medications, if you are suffering from the symptoms of herpes.