A genital herpes first infection occurs once a person has been in contact with the herpes virus for the first time. Both type I and II of herpes or herpes virus simplex (HSV) can cause genital herpes, though HSV-2 is the more common causative agent.
Herpes can go unnoticed for weeks after infecting someone for the first time. In some cases, it may cause very mild or no symptoms at all.
HSV-1 or HSV-2 can be found in the sores of an infected person, typically in the genital area. As such, genital herpes can be transmitted by sexual contact. There are also cases where even those without visible sores can transmit the disease as the Herpes Simplex Virus can be released from the skin between outbreaks. In fact, those who do not have a sore are the usual agents of transmission of genital herpes.
Through an intimate contact, the virus can enter into the linings of the skin via microscopic tears associated with sexual intercourse. Once inside, the virus migrates to the nerve roots close to the spinal cord where it resides permanently.
The incubation period can be as short as one day or as long as 26 days with an average of 6 to 8 days. The incubation period is the length of time from the start of viral entry to the manifestation of symptoms. Some people never experience symptoms, about 20% of cases, and are completely unaware they have herpes.
The treatment for genital herpes is not curative only symptomatic or those which alleviates the symptoms during an outbreak. There are when herpes cured naturally but with proper protocol. There are antiviral medications which will shorten the duration of each outbreak, prevent the recurrence of another outbreak and reduce the possibility of transmission to a partner during the outbreak
The symptoms of a genital herpes first infection can go from absent to barely noticeable to serious. Most people infected with HSV-2 do not notice any symptoms at all. However, if signs and symptoms appear during the first outbreak, they can be especially pronounced.
Symptoms appear in the form of one or more blisters on and around the genital and anal area. The blisters will soon break out into painful sores or ulcers which may take 2 to 4 weeks to heal.
Other symptoms accompanying these outbreaks are flu-like signs such as fever and swollen glands. However, most people having a genital herpes first infection do not manifest any signs or have very mild symptoms as to mistake it for another skin condition or bodily illness.
A second outbreak of genital herpes sores will usually occur some weeks or months after the first, but this is typically milder and shorter than the first outbreak. A person who has a genital herpes first infection can expect to have 4 or 5 more outbreaks during the first year of infection. The number of outbreaks can decrease through the years but the herpes infection can stay indefinitely inside the body.
As such, a patient can only realize that he has genital herpes infection only after many such symptomatic recurrences or outbreaks.
A genital herpes first infection can only be diagnosed upon visual inspection of the sores by a doctor and by microscopic examination of tissue samples from the genital sores. Between outbreaks, or when there are no active sores, diagnosis can be made by blood testing for antibodies against HSV.
However, most cases are not diagnosed due to the stigma associated with this sexually transmitted disease.