If you are sexually active, you need to know about viral sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). Two of the most common are genital warts and genital herpes. They are different from other infections and diseases in that they are both caused by viruses and because they are both treatable. Neither virus is actually curable however. People should never confuse treatment with a cure.
There are differences between genital warts and genital herpes and so the way they are handled is completely different as well. Warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and herpes is caused by the virus Herpes Simplex II. Both HPV and herpes go through periods where they lie dormant in the system, and periods where symptoms flare up and become evident again.
The symptoms for both infections are quite different. Herpes starts with feelings of general illness, and this can include fever and other flu-like symptoms. There may be itching or burning in the genital or anal areas, and there may be a feeling of heaviness as well. These symptoms all lead up to the first actual outbreak. This outbreak then results in small, painful bumps that turn into open, weeping sores. After a while, the sores crust over and dry out, although a second round of sores can appear.
Warts, on the other hand, often appear as soft bumps that are red or pink, and can look much like warts that you would find on your hand. They may look like cauliflowers, and can appear anywhere on the vulva, anus or cervix in women, and on the penis and scrotum in men. They may often have a burning or itching feeling or they can be completely symptom free.
There are differences in how the two infections are spread as well. With herpes, it is all due to the spread of bodily fluids, and so a condom can do an excellent job of preventing their spread. That being said, it is a very bad idea to have sex with a partner during an active herpes outbreak. On the other hand, genital warts can be spread through skin to skin contact. They can be anywhere on the groin area, even places where a condom does not cover you, so you should not depend on a condom for protection.
The way these two viruses are treated is also very different. Genital herpes treatment falls into two categories: suppressive therapy, and the taking of oral antivirals. There is also genital herpes treatment that involves applying creams and lotions to the sores themselves. A few of the topical genital herpes treatment creams include Dyamiclear, which, though a topical treatment, does claim to kill the active herpes virus. There are also H-away and H-prevention, which claim to relieve symptoms.
Genital herpes treatment that relies on oral antivirals includes taking medications such as Zovirax, Valtrex and Famvir. All three of these medications have similar side effects including nausea, headaches and gastrointestinal upsets. You can also use herbal genital herpes treatment methods.
There are methods of treating genital warts as well. These are very different from genital herpes treatment. HPV treatment includes the use of topical creams and surgical methods to remove lesions. Creams can include Trichloracetic acid, Immiquod and Podofilox. If you require surgery, options include laser surgery and electrocautery. These burn the wart off. There is also cryosurgery which freezes the wart and causes it to fall off.
The problem with both of these conditions is that they tend to recur and be very difficult to treat. As with any sexually transmitted infection, you want to make sure that you think about prevention so that treatment is never necessary.