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Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes Overview

Genital herpes is a common, highly infectious disease caused by a virus that infects genital areas. It is transmitted from one person to another during sexual activity. Genital herpes causes blisters or groups of small ulcers (open sores) on and around the genitals in both men and women. Genital herpes cannot be cured; however, there are medications that can be prescribed to treat outbreaks, minimize the symptoms, and decrease recurrences.

  • Genital herpes is extremely widespread, largely because it is so contagious. Carriers can transmit the disease without having any symptoms of an active infection.
  • The highest rates of infection are seen among the poor, those with less education, those using cocaine, and those with many sexual partners.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/4/2014

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The eMedicineHealth doctors ask about Genital Herpes:

Genital Herpes - Symptoms and Signs

What symptoms and signs did you experience with genital herpes?

Genital Herpes - Treatment

What were effective treatments for your genital herpes?

The initial symptoms of genital herpes include fever, itching or tingling in the genital area, vaginal discharge, and headache.

Is it Genital Herpes? Symptoms of an Initial Outbreak

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted viral infection(STD) that is relatively common worldwide. In the U.S., it is estimated to affect about 45 million people. While the hallmark of this recurring condition is the presence of raised, reddened, and usually painful bumps or blisters in the genital area, the initial outbreak of genital herpes may look and feel different than the later characteristic flare-ups.

In a person who has never been exposed to the herpes simplex virus (genital herpes is caused by herpes simplex virus type 2 or HSV-2; and, less commonly, herpes simplex virus type 1 or HSV-1), symptoms (if present) typically develop within two to 12 days, with an average time of four days. The symptoms and appearance of the initial infection (known as the primary infection) vary widely among individuals.

It is possible for someone to become infected with the herpes simplex virus and not display any symptoms at all. Other people may have a mild infection that may even go unnoticed. Still others will develop a more severe illness including the typical skin lesions.

Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

Herpes Simplex »

Herpes simplex viruses (HSVs) are ubiquitous, extremely host-adapted pathogens that can cause a wide variety of illnesses.

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