What is Anal Herpes?
Anal herpes is an infection caused by the herpes virus that break out as sores around the anus. Anal herpes are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) — in particular, a type of HSV called HSV type 2, or HSV-II. All these infections are gotten majorly via sexual contact. Syphilis, chancroid, and donovanosis are infections that can cause different types of lesions around the anal opening.
What are the symptoms of Anal Herpes?
- pain and itchingin and around the anus
- red bumps or white blisters
- ulcers that grow at the site of new blisters
- scabs that cover ulcers that have ruptured or bled
- changes in bowel habits
How is Anal Herpes Transmitted?
HSV-II is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that is spread from person to person through sexual intercourse. Not everyone with genital herpes has anal herpes. According to the CDC, in the United States, one in six people has genital herpes. The same virus that causes genital herpes can cause lesions in the genitals, anus, or perianus.
READ ALSO: Genital Herpes: Types, Symptoms & Treatment
How is Anal Herpes Diagnosed?
Your doctor may administer treatment after physical exam, if you have apparent symptoms of anal herpes. However, some doctors will want to conduct additional testing to authenticate the diagnosis. Because several different sexually transmitted microorganisms can cause anal symptoms, your doctor may want to confirm the exact cause of your infection before treatment.
Your doctor will get your blood sample which will be sent to a lab where tests will check the cause of your symptoms. With that information, your doctor can discuss treatment options.
How is Anal Herpes Treated?
Treatment of anal herpes may also reduce your risk for passing the infection to a sexual partner. The primary treatment for anal herpes is antiviral therapy. HSV-II is a virus. Antiviral medications fight the virus. People with HSV-II are administered antiviral medications to lessen the symptoms until the outbreak stops. In addition, a doctor may prescribe an antiviral medication to take regularly.
If your anal herpes is severe, your doctor may suggest intravenous antiviral therapy, where antiviral medicines will be injected directly into your bloodstream through a needle inserted into a vein.
Can HSV-II be cured?
HSV-II is a lifelong infection and cannot be cured. After the first outbreak, the virus will move to your nerve cells. The virus will stay in your nerve cells for the rest of your life. Even though the virus is still present in your body, it may be dormant or inactive for long periods of time. Outbreaks are typically triggered by an external factor such as sun exposure, stress, or illness.
Is Anal Herpes Contagious?
Anal herpes is highly contagious. It’s most likely to be transmitted to another person when lesions are present on skin in or around the anus. You can be infected with the virus if you have sexual contact with an infected person. In addition, you can pass the infection to a sexual partner even when the virus isn’t causing noticeable symptoms.
Reduce your risk
Because STIs like HSV-II are passed during sexual contact, you can lower your risk by engaging safe sex. Use these safe sex measures to reduce your risk:
- If you’re sexually active, ask your doctor to conduct regular STI screenings.
- Wear a condomor barrier protection during every sexual encounter, including anal or oral sex.
- If you’re in a relationship, practice monogamy.
- Abstain from sex altogether.