Herpes is a viral disease that is contagious. The Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) causes this infection which is contracted through sexual intercourse or exposure to an infected individual's body fluids. 

Once a person has been infected, the virus can lie dormant in the body for years or days before it gets activated. It can get also reactivate multiple times in a year.

There are two types of Herpes: type 1 and type 2.

  • Type 1 causes sores around the mouth (oral infections).

  • Type 2 causes sores around the genital areas. This is a sexually transmitted infection and is called genital herpes.

Herpes simplex type 1 is transmitted through oral secretions or sores on the skin. It can be spread through kissing or sharing objects such as toothbrushes or eating utensils.

Herpes type 2 is when a person has sexual contact with someone who has a genital HSV-2 infection.​

Symptoms of herpes do not show as they are very mild. When they are there, they present themselves the following way:

  • You may feel pain or itching that begins within two to ten days after exposure to an infected (sexual) partner, or individual

  • You may see small red bumps or tiny white blisters, which may appear several days later

  • You may see ulcers that form when the blisters rupture and bleed

  • You may see scabs that form as the ulcers heal

Ulcers will make it very painful to urinate and you will also feel that your genitals are very tender and warm.

Sores usually appear where the virus enters the body. These may include the following sites:​

  • Men and women may have ulcers on the buttocks, anus and mouth

  • Women may also have ulcers inside the vagina, cervix and genital areas

  • Men may also have ulcers on the penis, scrotum, thighs and urethra.

Recurrence is very common with herpes. If you have been infected once, it is very common that you may be infected again. If recurrence occurs, you will feel a burning, tingling and itching sensation at the place where the infection had previously started from. You may also feel pain in your buttocks, back and legs.

For people who had been infected previously, but symptoms hadn’t showed, the signs may start showing if you go through the following:

  • General illness (from mild illnesses to serious conditions)

  • Trauma to the affected area, including sexual activity

  • Fatigue​

  • Physical or emotional stress

  • ​Menstruation​​

If you experience the above symptoms, you should see your doctor or consult the physicians from the Kidney and Bladder or Internal Medicine Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital.

For expert gynaecological advice, you can also visit a doctor working with the Women's Health Care Services at The Aga Khan University Hospital.​​​
Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.​

Usually symptoms of herpes are clearly visible and hence your doctor can physically examine you to understand the problem that you have. Additionally, the following tests may be conducted by the doctor:

  • Viral culture: scraping the sore with a tissue and sending it in for laboratory testing

  • Blood tests: blood tests will be conducted to see the presence of HSV antibodies in your blood

  • Polymerase chain reaction: this will be used to copy your DNA from a sample of your blood, tissue from a sore or spinal fluid. The DNA will then be tested to establish the presence of HSV. This will determine the type of HSV you have.​​

There is no treatment for herpes. It goes away with time. Your doctor may prescribe medications to aid in healing sores sooner than normal. It will also lessen the severity and symptoms in current outbreak.  This will also obstruct you from transferring it to someone else.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.
The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.
The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments' costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.​
Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the 'Important Numbers' section on the website homepage.

The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.