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STD 8

My girlfriend has a few little red bumps around her vulva, but they don't bother her and they didn't stop us from having sex. We use condoms -- but a few weeks back, a few of the same kind of bumps popped up on my groin. Now it's spread to my thighs. The area is a little tender, but it doesn't bother me all that much. I keep waiting for it to go away. Will it?

Answer:

Molluscum contagiosum, once a disease of childhood, is now sexually transmitted among adults. It's caused by a poxvirus called MCV. It can be spread through sexual contact, or by contact with other objects, such as towels, used by an infected person.

The bumps are small, waxy, and round -- often with a little depression in the middle. Each lesion lasts for about six to eight weeks. But since it spreads, it can take two years or more to go away by itself. Your doctor can speed recovery either by surgical or chemical removal of the lesions.

STD 9

We didn't have sex, I swear! OK, my boyfriend and I did sleep together in his bed -- with our clothes off. We spooned a lot, but we didn't go past second base. And that was over a month ago. Now I'm back at school but I've got this itch on my waist, my groin and the lower part of my butt. It's MUCH worse at night when I go to bed. There are some short, wavy lines on the skin, but the worst are these dozens of itchy bumps. There's no way this is an STD, is there?

Answer:

Sex isn't the only way to get scabies. In fact, this skin-mite infection is hard to get from a brief sexual encounter. But prolonged skin contact does spread infection. If it took a month for symptoms to appear, this must be the first time you've had scabies. People who get it more than once get symptoms in only one to four days.

The mites that cause scabies burrow just under the surface of the skin. Females lay eggs that hatch in a few days. The itching is caused by an allergic reaction. You can't get scabies from a brief contact, such as a handshake, but it spreads in households after prolonged contact with infested bedding, carpets, or furniture.

Your doctor can prescribe treatments that will kill the mites. Even after they're dead, you'll still itch for a while. Doctors usually prescribe corticosteroid ointments to relieve this itching. And don't forget that killing the mites means getting rid of mites hiding in your bed, clothing, etc.

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