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Genital Herpes: Intimate Conversations

with Terri Warren, RN, ANP

This blog has been retired.

Monday, November 27, 2006

It’s not always herpes

Sometimes when a person gets diagnosed with genital herpes, they start recognizing symptoms in the genital area. That’s a good thing, because most herpes is unrecognized but not asymptomatic.

However, don’t assume that all symptoms in the genital area are herpes symptoms. People with herpes get yeast infections, they get bacterial infections, they get genital warts, they get molluscum, they get scabies, they get urinary tracts infection and they get other STDs like Chlamydia and gonorrhea.

It’s important that herpes not become a dumping ground for all symptoms. On my WebMD message board, I get lots of questions from people who are having continuous symptoms — non-stop itching or irritation and they report that their antiviral medicines “aren’t doing anything”.

Antiviral medicines, acyclovir, Valtrex and Famvir, are all very effective and reduce outbreak frequency by about 70%. In healthy adults who have fully functioning immune systems, these medicines always improve symptoms. But they improve symptoms that are related to herpes. So if no improvement is seen in symptoms, then they are likely caused by something else. It worries me that some people get so stuck on their herpes diagnosis that they miss getting appropriate diagnoses and treatment for other infections.

If you have herpes, and antiviral medicines “aren’t doing anything” to improve your symptoms, think other types of things going on and get that sorted out.

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Posted by: Terri Warren, RN, ANP at 1:00 pm