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Recurrent genital herpes

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease which caused by herpes simplex virus. Two types of herpes viruses are associated with genital lesions: herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2). Recurrent genital herpes is closely related to the functioning of the immune system. Women with suppressed immune systems have more frequent and longer-lasting recurrent genital herpes episodes.

Some people could have several recurrent episodes of genital herpes. During first year after infection usually clients have the highest possibility of recurrence (period of most viral activity). Recurrences tend to become less frequent and less severe after the first year. The only good news about recurrent genital herpes is that symptoms of recurrent episodes tend to be milder and heal much more quickly (during 3-12 days). The duration and the time in between each repeated episode can vary depending on several factors including immune system, stress, health status, steroids, surgical trauma, ultraviolet radiation, eating habits and lifestyle. According to health experts, the average number of recurrent episodes in cases of HSV-2 virus can be 4-5 times per year and in cases of HSV-1 virus it can be less than one episode per year.

During virus reactivation (recurrence, outbreak, re-occurrence) most people experience typical symptoms (itching, tingling, painful feeling) in the area where recurrent lesions will occur. It usually happens 1-3 days before lesions appear. During this period of time virus can be transmitted (spread) to other people through skin-to-skin contacts.

Recurrent genital herpes – how it occurs

During genital herpes, the virus lies dormant (“sleeping”) in the bundle of nerves at the base of the spine. When the virus reactivates (wakes up), it travels nerve paths to the surface of the skin and cause outbreak. Most people with herpes have a recurrence but there are many people who don’t. Recurrent episodes tend to be less and less severe as time goes on and as immune system builds up antibodies. Recurrent genital herpes symptoms can be different for everyone and even symptoms of the same type of virus could be different.

Recurrence symptoms vary and depend on several factors including type of virus, immune system, health status, etc.

Recurrent genital herpes – symptoms

Commonly, recurrent symptoms appear in the exact same location as it did previously (or closely nearby). Nerves can have many axons which is why the herpes virus can take a number of pathways to the skin.

Recurrent genital herpes symptoms typically last 3-14 days. In some rare cases symptoms could last up to 6-8 weeks. According to health experts, the first recurrent episode is generally the worst for most clients and it can be followed by the second episode shortly after first recurrence (depending on immune resistance and antibody development). Every next recurrent genital herpes symptoms will not usually increase in severity. In addition, herpes is capable of reactivating without producing any visible lesions (asymptomatic reactivation).

Recurrent genital herpes

Typical recurrent genital herpes symptoms:

Inflammation on same zones which were involved in first episode of virus – redness, swelling, burning sensation, tenderness, increased sensitivity or itching;

Lesions (blisters or bumps or pimples) – one or several, small or medium fluid-filled, tiny red bumps or a rash that may resemble small fissures;

Ulcers – appeared after blister breaks, small round wet looking with milky colored discharge;

Post-lesion crusts – beginning of healing, still contagious;

Healing skin – red or reddish or silver colored spots, not contagious anymore.

Recurrent genital herpes – risk factors

  • Depressed immune system,
  • Physical exhaustion,
  • Genital infections,
  • Alcohol abuse,
  • Intensive sun exposure (ultraviolet radiation),
  • Severe acute or chronic stress or anxiety,
  • General illnesses with increased temperature (fever),
  • Surgical trauma,
  • Steroid medications,
  • Certain skin diseases on genital zones,
  • Hormonal fluctuations (menstrual cycle, pregnancy),
  • Genital skin irritation.

Recurrent genital herpes – prevention

  • Boost your immune system and immune resistance;
  • Avoid stress and practice stress management;
  • Follow healthy diet and healthy lifestyle;
  • Practice safe sex and avoid multiple partners;
  • Avoid prolonged vigorous intercourse and insufficient lubrication;
  • Avoid ultraviolet radiation (sun exposure);
  • Avoid surgical trauma (if not necessary).

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