Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease. It is very common--about 50 million Americans have genital herpes. It is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes simplex viruses that can cause herpes. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) primarily causes oral herpes (cold sores). Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) primarily causes genital herpes.
Even though HSV-1 causes the majority of oral herpes cases and HSV-2 causes the majority of genital herpes cases, both of these viruses can cause oral herpes, genital herpes, or both.
Once a person gets the genital herpes virus, it stays in their body for life.
What happens if someone has an attack of genital herpes?
With recurrent genital herpes, symptoms can soon come and go. When the herpes virus symptoms appear from time to time, it is called a \"herpes outbreak.\" Between outbreaks, when the virus is not present on the skin surface, the herpes virus is inactive and when reactivated, it travels to the skin in the genital area. An outbreak usually begins with a warning prodrome. Then, redness, bumps, and blisters may appear. The blisters can burst open and cause sores. There may be just one red, itchy blister or several.
What is a sign of a coming herpes outbreak?
A sign is the first stage of an outbreak when you feel symptoms such as pain, unusual burning, itching, tingling, or tenderness. Remember, this is the time to start treatment if you are treating with medication.