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Genital herpes

Genital herpes is an infection spread through sex that can cause small blisters on the genitals, anus, thighs or bottom.

Symptoms of genital herpes include small red blisters around your genitals, anus, thighs or bottom.

Treatments for genital herpes include antiviral medicine and cream for any pain. You can get treatment at a sexual health clinic.

Until the blisters have fully healed, genital herpes is very easy to pass on from skin contact with the infected area.

Read more on the NHS website.

Symptoms of genital herpes include small red blisters around your genitals, anus, thighs or bottom.

Go to a sexual health clinic as soon as possible if you have:

These can be symptoms of genital herpes.

Go even if you have not had sex for a long time, as blisters can take months or years to appear.

Read more on the NHS website.

Treatments for genital herpes include antiviral medicine and cream for any pain. You can get treatment at a sexual health clinic.

Medical treatments

There's no cure. Symptoms clear up by themselves, but the blisters can come back (an outbreak or recurrence).

Treatment from a sexual health clinic can help.

Treatment the first time you have genital herpes

You may be prescribed:

  • antiviral medicine to stop the symptoms getting worse – you need to start taking this within 5 days of the symptoms appearing
  • cream for the pain

If you have had symptoms for more than 5 days before you go to a sexual health clinic, you can still get tested to find out the cause.

Treatment if the blisters come back

Go to a GP or sexual health clinic if you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and need treatment for an outbreak.

Antiviral medicine may help shorten an outbreak by 1 or 2 days if you start taking it as soon as symptoms appear.

But outbreaks usually settle by themselves, so you may not need treatment.

Recurrent outbreaks are usually milder than the first episode of genital herpes.

Over time, outbreaks tend to happen less often and be less severe. Some people never have outbreaks.

Some people who have more than 6 outbreaks in a year may benefit from taking antiviral medicine for 6 to 12 months.

If you still have outbreaks of genital herpes during this time, you may be referred to a specialist.

Self-care

If you have been diagnosed with genital herpes and you're having an outbreak:


Do

  • keep the area clean using plain or salt water to prevent blisters becoming infected
  • apply an ice pack wrapped in a flannel to soothe pain
  • apply petroleum jelly (such as Vaseline) or painkilling cream (such as 5% lidocaine) to reduce pain when you pee
  • wash your hands before and after applying cream or jelly
  • pee while pouring water over your genitals to ease the pain

Don't

  • do not wear tight clothing that may irritate blisters or sores
  • do not put ice directly on the skin
  • do not touch your blisters or sores unless you're applying cream
  • do not have vaginal, anal or oral sex until the sores have gone away

Read more on the NHS website.

Until the blisters have fully healed, genital herpes is very easy to pass on from skin contact with the infected area.

Read more on the NHS website.