Herpes is an infection caused by HSV (herpes simplex virus). This virus affects the external genitalia, anal region, mucosal surfaces, and skin in other parts of the body. Herpes is a long-term condition. However, many people never have symptoms even though they are carrying the virus.
Symptoms include blisters, ulcers, pain when urinating, cold sores, and vaginal discharge. Although there is no cure for herpes, it can be treated using medications and home remedies.
Where does the herpes virus live in the body?
The herpes simplex viruses are latent. After the initial infection, the virus gets into the nerve roots and spreads to the sensory nerve ganglia. The ganglia are the nerve junctions in which nerves from different parts of the body come together. For the genital area, the ganglia are adjacent to the spinal cord in the lower back. For orofacial herpes (cold sores), the ganglia are located behind the cheekbone.
What are the symptoms of genital herpes?
The symptoms of genital herpes are typically non-specific and quite mild. In the classic case, individuals have grouped blisters or genital ulcers. These burn and can be painful. Often–prior to the development of the lesions–patients describe a prodrome. A prodrome is a burning sensation in the area where the lesions will develop. This can be accompanied by a burning sensation during urination, itching, or discomfort in the genital area.