Anal Herpes: What to Know About and How to Treat It

Herpes is a common skin infection caused by the herpes simplex virus. While some strains of the virus can cause oral herpes, others can lead to genital herpes. Oral herpes, or cold sores, are painful sores or blisters on the face. Genital herpes involves sores in the genitals, anus and perianal areas. Anal herpes is contagious from person-to-person by direct contact. The condition can especially affect people who have engaged in anal intercourse. Due to the transmission, however, genital herpes can lead to anal herpes.

Here’s everything you should know about anal herpes and how to treat it.

Anal Herpes Symptoms

Like genital herpes, anal herpes is caused by the herpes simplex type 2 or HSV-2. The virus can cause different types of lesions around the anal region. Common symptoms may include:

  1. Herpes rashes

Herpes rash is described as red skin and tiny fluid-filled blisters around the anus. These blisters can break open, ooze pus and then crust over and heal. This process can cause pain, itching and burning sensations. If left untreated, herpes rash can last up to 4 weeks and lead to further infections. But, it’s very difficult to realize herpes rash on the anal region.

  1. Pain and burning sensations

In addition to anal herpes rash, HSV-2 may also cause other annoying symptoms. They are tingling, burning and shooting pain in or around the anus. Due to friction from undergarments and clothing, discomfort and irritation may also happen.

Symptoms of anal herpes

  1. Change in bowel habits

People with anal herpes may experience some changes in bowel habits. These may include weight loss, diarrhea, constipation and abnormal stool consistency.  

  1. Anal drainage

This symptom is an unseen lesion inside the anus and rectum. Blisters and ulcers caused by the virus can cause inflammation of the anus and rectum. This can lead to bloody or pus-like anal drainage associated with a foul odor.

How Can Anal Herpes Spread?

Genital herpes caused by HSV-2 is a sexually transmitted infection. It can be transmitted from human-to-human via direct contact and intercourse. Thus, it is accurately true that anal herpes spreads through sexual contact.

It’s estimated that 20 million people in the U.S became infected with HSV-2. The number of affected people is still increasing. And, about 776,000 Americans are diagnosed with herpes each year.

HSV2 can cause genital herpes and anal herpes. Due to the transmission, genital herpes can cause anal herpes. But not all genital herpes can lead to herpes on the anus.

Having anal sex causes anal herpes

What to Do if You Have Anal Herpes

If you think you may have anal herpes, contact with your doctor for diagnosis. Physical exam and blood test will help to confirm whether you have herpes or not.

Many STDs can also cause anal sores and lesions. To make sure, you should get it checked by your doctor. Using the wrong treatment may worsen the disease.

Related: Frequently Asked Questions About Herpes

How Contagious Is Anal Herpes?

Anal herpes is highly contagious. It can be passed from human-to-human in no time. If you contact with a person who has the virus, you can be at risk of infection. Also, anal sex is one way to spread anal herpes.  

Due to unnoticeable symptoms, people don’t know they have anal herpes. So they can pass it on to other people without knowing it. If you think you have herpes symptoms, speak to your doctor immediately. Before a diagnosis result, you need to avoid touching or having sex with other people.

How Can Anal Herpes Be Treated?

Treatment for anal herpes can help relieve symptoms and prevent transmission.

Antiviral therapy is a primary way to treat anal herpes. During treatment, you are advised not having sex until the condition completely heals.  

Antibiotics are often used for most infections; but cannot be used to treat viral infections. Doctors usually prescribe painkillers to reduce pain and inflammation. But, the treatment is not used for anal herpes.

Antiviral medicines injected directly into the bloodstream to treat anal herpes

OTC topical cream like Prosurx is a highly effective treatment for cold sores and genital herpes. Doctors recommend applying this cream to reduce symptoms and prevent future breakouts. But, OTC topical cream is for external use only. To treat anal herpes, regularly taking antiviral medication may help.

Antiviral medicines injected directly into the bloodstream is for severe case of anal herpes.

Related: How to Treat Genital Herpes Symptoms Naturally

How to Prevent Anal Herpes

Anal herpes is an STD, so abstinence from sex is the best way to prevent it. Besides, you can follow these tips to lower the risk of herpes infections.

  • Avoid contacting with infected person
  • Practice safe sex
  • Avoid oral and anal sex
  • Using condoms during sex
  • Limit your sexual partners
  • Practice monogamy in relationships
  • Regularly go for health checkup

Related: Safe Sex With Genital Herpes