Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2
Herpes simplex virus type 2 is one of the two types of herpes viruses; it may also be called HSV-2. This virus is the cause of genital herpes wherein the infected person develops sores around his genitals or the skin surrounding his rectum or anal area. HSV-2 sores may also be seen in other areas of the body but are commonly found in the parts of the body that are below the waist or the trunk.
Herpes simplex virus type 2 is only spread through sexual contact with someone who is infected by the virus. It is not spread by kissing, using eating utensils and by touching a person with genital herpes. This infection on the other hand may be spread even when there are no lesions or sores present. Here are more herpes simplex virus type 2 and genital herpes facts that you may find important:
- As mentioned, genital herpes may only be spread through sexual contact however, pregnant women who are infected may pass the virus to her baby as she gives birth/
- HSV-2 does not actually leave the body after you are treated and have fully recovered from the infection. The virus attaches itself to a nerve and stays dormant until the person becomes vulnerable to it. Reinfection may happen when a person becomes ill with even very mild illnesses like the flu, after being fatigued, after becoming emotionally distressed, when the immune system is suppressed due to viral infections like AIDS, when a person experiences trauma where the nerve is located, menstruation and after undergoing chemotherapy.
- HSV-2 is believed to be very painful and affects only people who have very active sex lives but on the contrary there is a large percentage of Americans that have HSV-2 and these people come from different socio economic groups, races and ethnic groups.
- About 22% of adults in the US with HSV-2 infection, two-thirds of this number does not know that they are infected.
- Some people who have HSV-2 do not have symptoms while some may describe the infection as very painful. The initial or the first outbreak is said to be the most painful and succeeding ones are very mild.
Symptoms of HSV-2
Genital herpes have classic symptoms however; you need to consult your doctor to accurately determine the infection.
- Flu-like symptoms are the most common symptoms that appear even before the person has lesions. The infected person feels feverish, weak and may even have colds, cough or a mild to moderate fever.
- The appearance of sores which look like blisters on the genital area or along the skin surrounding the rectum confirms herpes simplex virus type 2 infections. Blisters may develop and may join together to form a large sore. There is pain, itching and terrible discomfort over the affected areas where the blisters are found. Sores may also appear around the mouth area.
- Secretions or yellowish discharge from the vagina or the penis may be seen in some infected patients along with the appearance of genital sores.
- Aside from physical symptoms a person infected with HSV-2 may feel anxious, stressed and depressed since there is social stigma among people with this condition. Passing this infection to their partners is one of the most stressing feeling among infected people according to a recent study and people are more concerned about their partner or their spouse’s well-being than their own.
There are no confirmatory lab tests or diagnostic examinations that will help diagnose herpes simplex virus type 2 infection. A simple consultation to your doctor will be enough to confirm that you are infected. Close monitoring of symptoms as well as recommending the practice of safe sexual contact is the most common treatments for genital herpes. Your partner or spouse must also be screened to confirm if he is infected.
Treatment of HSV-2
There is no cure for genital herpes; medications are only meant to control painful symptoms of the illness. Your doctor will recommend the ideal treatment for your condition and will be based on the severity of the infection or the outbreak and the ability of your immune system to fight the infection. Here are the possible treatments for the symptoms of HSV-2 infection:
- Antiviral medications are used to reduce the pain and itching of the sores and blisters found on the genital area. But before taking antiviral medications, inform your doctor of any current medications including maintenance medications, vitamins, health supplements and herbal preparations that you are taking. Be sure to tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding since most antiviral medications are not recommended for these conditions. Illnesses and allergies must also be reported especially illnesses like diabetes, heart problems and blood problems since medications for these conditions may affect the action of antiviral medication.
- Take care fever and other flu-like symptoms as they appear. You may take fever medications, use cold compresses and sponge baths to reduce fever and pain,
- Genital sores may be very painful and very itchy; you can relieve this by using warm baths and sitz baths for 20 to 30 minutes can help reduce pain. Never pick or touch your sores. Maintain cleanliness and hygiene all the time.
- Practice safe sexual contact at all times. Consult your doctor for the best approach to safe sex.
Although herpes simplex virus type 2 infection is very contagious you can prevent the spread of this infection. Here are important preventive measures to ensure that this virus is contained:
- HSV-2 can only be spread through sexual contact, be sure to practice safe sex all the time or refrain from having multiple sex partners.
- Keep healthy by avoiding smoking. Smoking will only reduce your immune system which can trigger genital herpes. Stopping smoking even for just a week will totally improve your immune system and respiratory function plus will also help increase your resistance to many types of infections.
- Eat healthy and take multivitamin supplements to avoid getting sick. Sickness and stress may trigger genital herpes as well as physical or emotional stress.
- Avoid becoming too fatigued or too worn out; this will only help stimulate the recurrence of genital herpes.
- Learn all about how to prevent the spread of HSV-2 infection by talking to a health personnel or your doctor. Education is the best way to reduce the spread of infection.
- Pregnant women diagnosed with genital herpes must consult her doctor regarding her delivery. Her doctor may start her with treatments as well as plan for a possible caesarean delivery to totally prevent neonatal herpes. Hospitals must also practice safety measures and assessment of the mother before delivery to totally prevent this kind of herpes.
- Couples must not hesitate to be screened for genital herpes. It is important to have a clear understanding of the cause of the illness as well as respect for people with HSV-2 infection to gain total prevention and control of this infection.