Genital herpes

Genital herpes

ICD-9: 054.10


Genital, or venereal, herpes is a highly contagious viral infection of the male and female genitalia. Unlike other STDs, genital herpes tends to recur spontaneously. The disease has two stages. During the active stage, characteristic skin lesions and other accompanying symptoms may occur. During the latent stage, the individual is asymptomatic. The incidence of genital herpes is beginning to decline, but at least 45 million individuals ages 12 and older have genital herpes.


Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Two strains of the virus—designated HSV-1 and HSV-2—may produce the disease. Most cases of genital herpes, however, are attributable to HSV-2. The disease is transmitted through direct contact with infected bodily secretions. Infection typically occurs during sexual intercourse, oral-genital sexual activity, kissing, and handto-body contact. A particularly life-threatening form of the disease can occur in infants infected by the virus during vaginal birth.

READ:   Ovarian cancer

Signs and Symptoms

During the active phase of the disease, males and females may present with characteristic skin lesions on their genitals, mouth, and/or anus (see Fig. 16.5). These appear as multiple, shallow ulcerations, pustules, or erythematous vesicles. The diffuse redness of the skin, or erythema, is caused by dilation of the superficial capillaries. The vesicles tend to rupture, causing acute pain and consequent itching. Other generalized symptoms may include fever, headache, malaise, muscle pain, anorexia, and dysuria. Leukorrhea may be a further symptom in females.

Diagnostic Procedures

Physical examination for evidence of the characteristic lesions is usually sufficient for diagnosis. Scraping and biopsy of the ulceration with evidence of HSV-2 may be required to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests can detect antibodies to HSV-1 or HSV-2.

READ:   Female reproductive system


Acyclovir is an effective treatment for genital herpes. Newer agents include famciclovir and valacyclovir. These drugs will not eradicate the virus, but when taken as soon as an outbreak occurs, they can shut down virus production. Secondary infections need to be prevented or speedily managed. Topical medications may be ordered to reduce edema and pain. Clients are encouraged to keep lesions clean and dry.

Genital herpes on the glans penis and penile shaft

FIGURE. Genital herpes on the glans penis and penile shaft. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. N. J. Flumara and Dr. Gavin Hart, 1976.)

Complementary Therapy

Complementary therapy aims to diminish discomfort and hasten recovery. An ice pack applied to sores at the beginning of eruptions can help. Cool compressions or baking soda also soothes lesions. A topical cream made from the Prunella vulgaris plant has shown promise in reducing skin lesions.

READ:   Carcinoma of the breast

Client communication

Clients may be embarrassed about their disease; reassure them that they can lead a sexually healthy life so long as they adhere to proper precautions.


Genital herpes cannot be cured. The prognosis varies according to the individual’s age, the severity of the infection, the promptness of treatment, and the individual’s immunological response. It is estimated that as many as 80% of individuals with primary genital herpes infections will experience a recurrence within 12 months. The virus is also associated with cervical cancer.


No proven method of prevention among adults has been established other than avoiding sexual intercourse and other sexually intimate contact with infected individuals when lesions or symptoms of herpes are present and using condoms during all sexual exposure. Transmission of the disease to neonates can be minimized through cesarean delivery when it is known that the mother is infected.

READ:   Male reproductive system
Reproductive System anatomy and phsiology review The reproductive system functions to continue the human species; hence, the organs of the system are usually classified into two groups: gonads (testes and ovaries), which produce germ cells, and hormones with their duct system for the transportation of the germ cells. Cell division, called meiosis, produces gametes, or the sperm and the ovum. The gametes each contain half the number of chromosomes (23) necessary to produce an offspring. If fertilization occurs, the nuclei of the sperm and ovum fuse and produce a zygote with the full chromosome complement (46). The ductal system of the female transports, nourishes, and grows the fertilized ovum. Spermatogenesis is regulated by hormones and occurs in the seminiferous tubules in the testes. The follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) from the anterior pituitary gland initiates sperm production. In addition, the anterior pituitary’s luteinizing hormone (LH) stimulates the production of testosterone that is secreted by the testes to prom...
Syphilis ICD-9: 097.9 Description Syphilis is a highly infectious, chronic STD characterized by lesions that may involve any organ or tissue. After a brief decline in cases in the late 1990s, cases have again begun to rise. Etiology Syphilis is caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum. The bacteria are transmitted via direct contact with infected lesions, typically through vaginal, oral, or anal sexual intercourse or through contact with infected bodily fluids. Syphilis also may be contracted as a consequence of transfusion with infected blood (a rare occurrence). In pregnant females, T. pallidum can cross the placenta and infect the fetus, causing serious fetal damage. The bacteria rapidly penetrate skin or mucous membranes. From the point of infection, they spread into the lymphatic system and the blood, producing a systemic infection. Typically, the bacteria will have been carried throughout the body long before the first clinical symptoms appear. Signs and Symptoms When ...
Genital human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection ICD-9: 079.4 Description Video: Natural History of HPV Infection Genital human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common of the STDs. There are over 40 types that can infect the genital areas of men and women, including the penis; vulva; anus; and the rectal, cervical, and vaginal linings. Genital warts (one type of HPV) are circumscribed, elevated skin lesions, usually seen on the external genitalia or near the anus. Approximately 20 million Americans are currently infected with HPV. Most persons do not realize they are infected or that they are passing the virus to their partner. Etiology Genital HPV is typically spread from person to person during intimate sexual contact. A pregnant woman can pass HPV to her neonate during vaginal delivery. Genital warts have a prolonged incubation period of 1 to 6 months and grow rapidly in the presence of heavy perspiration, poor hygiene, or pregnancy. Signs and Symptoms Most individuals with HPV do not develop symptoms. However, ...
Prostatic cancer ICD-9: 185 Description Prostatic cancer is a malignant neoplasm of the prostate tissue. The majority of these neoplasms are classified as adenocarcinomas. Prostatic cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in males (after lung and colon cancers). Prostate cancer tends to metastasize, often spreading to the bones of the spine or pelvis before it is detected. The National Cancer Institute resports an estimated 192,280 new cases in 2009. The disease is rare before age 50. Etiology Four factors are suspected in this cancer: Family or racial predisposition (African Americans have the highest prostate cancer rate in the world) Exposure to environmental or chemical elements (e.g., Vietnam War veterans exposed to Agent Orange have a higher incidence of prostate cancer; therefore, military service information is important in any social and medical history) Coexisting STDs Endogenous hormonal influence Eating high amounts of fat-containing animal products has a...
Dysmenorrhea ICD-9: 625.3 Description Dysmenorrhea is pain associated with menstruation. It is one of the most frequent gynecologic disorders, affecting more than half of menstruating women. Dysmenorrhea is divided into primary and secondary categories. Primary dysmenorrhea is not associated with any identifiable pelvic pathological disorder, whereas secondary dysmenorrhea accompanies some underlying pelvic pathology or disease condition. Dysmenorrhea is more commonly seen among women who had early onset of menses, have long and/or heavy menstrual periods, and who smoke. Obesity and alcohol consumption may be seen with dysmenorrhea also. Etiology A specific cause of primary dysmenorrhea is difficult to pinpoint. Hormonal imbalances such as increased prostaglandin secretions may be the cause. Prostaglandins are a class of chemically related fatty acids present in many body tissues; they have the ability to stimulate smooth muscle contractions or lower blood pressure. The hormone vasopres...