The question “What does herpes look like?” is a difficult one to answer because the visible symptoms of the disease do not appear the same in every individual. Furthermore, other sexually transmitted diseases can produce symptoms that appear similar to a genital herpes outbreak. For these reasons, if you suspect that you may have been infected with genital herpes (also known as the HSV-2 virus), diagnosis by a physician is the only sure way to know.
Despite the aforementioned challenges, it is possible to identify several, common visual signs of a genital herpes outbreak. When reviewing the following information, however, the potentially infected person should keep in mind that these symptoms will only be visible during an outbreak. It is also imperative to remember that, in many cases, there will be no obvious indications of infection while an individual is experiencing an outbreak.
Commonly-seen symptoms of a herpes outbreak include:
Reddened, swollen, irritated skin on, or around, the genitals
The sudden appearance of reddened, swollen patches of skin on our around the genitalia can be indicative that a herpes outbreak is taking place. This symptom will usually be accompanied by burning, itchiness and/or a tingling sensation.
Fluid-filled blisters on the genitals, thighs, buttocks or groin
The most commonly-recognized symptom of genital herpes, “fluid-filled blisters on the genitals or groin area” is usually the answer given when one asks the question, “What does herpes look like?” Initially, the blisters appear as small, pimple-like bumps filled with clear liquid. Over the next few days, however, they steadily enlarge until they have grown together into reddened, painful clusters.
Leaking, oozing sores and ulcers on, or around, the genital, groin area, thighs, and buttocks
The final stage of a genital herpes breakout, ulcers develop as blisters burst and drain. While it is unlikely that this would be the first symptom noticed by a person experiencing an outbreak, it is possible because many infected individuals do not experience significant initial discomfort when blisters begin to form. Should a small blister burst, the sudden appearance of an ulcer may be the first warning that an outbreak has begun.
Tiny, reddened bumps in the area where outbreaks typically occur
To reiterate a point made at the outset of this article, the visible symptoms of herpes do not necessarily appear the same in every individual. While most would answer “blisters” to the question of “What does herpes look like”, it is just as possible that “small, reddish bumps” (which can often be confused for insect bites) could be the appropriate response. Because herpes blisters can form beneath the skin, as well as above it, these small bumps can be an indication that an outbreak is taking place.
The appearance of any of the visible symptoms discussed in this article is not a definitive sign that you are infected with genital herpes. It is, however, an indication that you should get yourself tested by a licensed physician. It is entirely possible that your symptoms are from genital herpes, but it is also possible that it is a more serious sexual disease.
Syphillis, for one, can cause blisters similar to genital herpes and, if left untreated, can create severe health risks. On the other hand, there are several relatively harmless skin irritations that a nervous individual may mistake for a primary herpes outbreak.
In the end, there is no clear-cut answer to the question “What does herpes look like?” The appearance of any of the symptoms discussed in this article should be cause for the concerned person to schedule a test with his physician. Unfortunately, there is no other way to find out if you’ve contracted genital herpes, or something else altogether.