What is Herpes simplex II?

Herpes simplex II, more commonly known as genital herpes, is from the herpes simplex virus family and is a chronic long-term condition. This virus causes painful blisters on the genitals and surrounding areas and is transmitted by having any form of sex.

How common is Herpes simplex II?

Genital herpes is a common condition, especially in the age group of 20-24 year olds. Approximately 25% of sexually active people in the UK have genital herpes, although it is estimated that only 1 in 4 of these will be diagnosed.

In the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that 776,000 people get new herpes infections each year.

How is Herpes simplex II passed on?

People get the virus II by having any form of sex with someone who has herpes II. This includes:

  • Unprotected vaginal sex
  • Unprotected anal sex
  • Unprotected oral sex
  • Sharing sex toys

It can also be passed on from an infected mother to her child during birth.

Transmission can occur even if your sexual partner is not currently showing any signs of the virus.

What are the complications of Herpes simplex II?

Herpes can cause problems during pregnancy, the severity of which depends on whether herpes was already existent or if it was contracted for the first time while pregnant. Herpes in neonates is serious and can in some cases cause death. Outbreaks are recurrent, causing painful sores to appear.

What is the difference between Herpes simplex I and Herpes simplex II?

Herpes Type I usually causes small, painful blisters on the lips, mouth, gums or skin around the mouth, commonly known as cold sores. Herpes simplex II causes painful blisters on the genitals and surrounding areas. Although both highly contagious, type I and II are different strains of the virus within the same family.

What are the Symptoms of herpes II?

Most people who have herpes do not realise they have it until the onset of severe symptoms – 3 in 4 of people are asymptomatic or only show mild symptoms.

The cycle of the Herpes simplex Virus

Once you have become infected with Herpes simplex Virus, the following cycle will occur.

  1. Inflammation – the infected area will become swollen and red, and some people may experience tingles.
  2. Blisters – blisters will rise up from the infected area. These will be filled with fluid.
  3. Ulcers – after the blisters have appeared, the skin will eventually break. Small wet looking ulcers will appear leak white or clear fluid.
  4. Crusting – the is is the start of the healing process. The blisters and ulcers will turn into scabs. When the scabs have cleared, this episode of herpes is past. However, the virus still remains in the body and it will reoccur.

Some people may only experience one outbreak, others will experience multiple. The first outbreak is usually the worst, with subsequent outbreaks being less severe. Herpes outbreaks can be triggered by stress, illness and fatigue.

How long does it take for symptoms of herpes II to appear?

Symptoms do not usually appear as soon as you are infected. It may take months or even years for the outbreak of herpes I to appear. It usually takes between 2 to 20 days before any outbreaks develop.

What happens if herpes II is left untreated?

Once you have the HSV-2 virus it will remain in your body for life. But while it is not curable, it is manageable. However, if genital herpes is left untreated it increases the risk of the following:

  • Genital herpes cause painful sores in many adults, but those who have suppressed immune systems suffer severe pain.
  • Herpes simplex II can transfer to other parts of the body if a person touches their sore, or the fluid from the sores, and then touches another part of their body.
  • Genital herpes have been linked to the transfer of HIV. The sores can bleed easily and when the blood comes into contact with the mouth, vagina or rectum during sex, HIV can be passed from one sexual partner to the other.
  • Miscarriage and premature birth can be a result of untreated genetal herpes.
  • If left untreated in an expectanct mother, genital herpes can be passed from mother to child resulting neonatal herpes, a potentially fatal infection.

Can I be cured of herpes II?

There is no treatment that can cure herpes. Antiviral medications can, however, prevent or shorten outbreaks during the period of time the person takes the medication. In addition, daily suppressive therapy (i.e., daily use of antiviral medication) for herpes can reduce the likelihood of transmission to partners.

How often do you need to test for herpes II?

Herpes simplex II may not always display symptoms. It can therefore be difficult to know if you are infected. It is a good idea to have regular screening if you are sexually active. A comprehensive STI screen is recommended once a year or with every change of sexual partner.

Who is at risk of herpes II?

Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of Herpes simplex II. In order to reduce the risk of Herpes simplex II, practice safe sex by using a condom every time you have sex.

Where can I get a test for herpes II?

At Yourhealthfirst Clinic tests for 10 STIs at the same time, including Herpes simplex II.

How reliable is the herpes II test?

Herpes simplex II is included as one of the 10 STIs that YHF Clinic tests for simultaneously. Our Stis is a cutting-edge testing procedure that uses molecular diagnostics that far exceed other STI tests currently available. The test screens for multiple STI pathogens to identify specific viral, protozoan or bacterial pathogens.

How is herpes II treated?

Herpes simplex II can be treated, but not cured. The type of treatment will depend on whether you have herpes II for the first time or if you are experiencing a recurrent outbreak. For an initial infection, your GP may prescribe antiviral tablets. For a recurrent outbreak, you will be advised to keep the area clean, keep the area cool or avoid wearing tight clothing around the infected area. If symptoms are more severe, antiviral drugs may be prescribed. If your results are positive, contact your GP for treatment.