How to Tell if You Have Herpes

“Do I have genital herpes?” It’s a question that is asked more often than you might think, and just the thought of possibly having herpes can create some uncomfortable feelings. If you think you may have herpes or have been exposed to herpes, it is essential to know what it looks like and what the symptoms are that you should watch out for.

What is Herpes?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the definition of herpes is an outbreak of sores caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two specific viruses: herpes simplex 1 (HSV-1), which causes cold sores (also known as fever blisters), and herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2), which causes genital sores. Both types of herpes are technically sexually transmitted infections (STIs). They can be seen both around the mouth and genital areas. Still, the genital herpes virus is more frequently seen as sores in the genital and anal area.

What Are the Symptoms of Herpes?

Herpes sores are pretty unique — and painful. The lesions may start out mild, like a weird tingling sensation, followed by redness and swelling, and finally, the sore develops as a blister. At first, you may not even notice the sore or just think it is an acne outbreak. However, the pain quickly becomes very noticeable. Soon, the blister breaks open, and the irritated sore will begin to slowly dry out and heal, which can take up to a week in some cases. Genital herpes symptoms, on the first outbreak, can also be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as body aches, fever, and swollen lymph nodes.

Different Types of Herpes

Men and women can have similar genital herpes symptoms. For women, genital herpes can appear on the outside of the labia, although it can also be on the inside of the vagina and on the cervix. Herpes symptoms in men typically affect the outside of the penis, scrotum, and anal area. Both men and women can have anal and urethral sores and sores around their thighs and buttocks. If oral sex is performed, the genital herpes sores can appear in the mouth, as well.

Women who are pregnant can transmit the virus to the infant, which is called neonatal herpes. This is a potentially life-threatening condition for the baby if the baby is delivered vaginally. To avoid this complication, most doctors will encourage a cesarean delivery to prevent herpes from spreading.

Distinguishing Herpes From Other STIs

It is important to be able to distinguish herpes from other sexually-transmitted infections. The following list can aid in understanding the difference:

  • Herpes: painful blister-like sore that oozes and dries out.
  • Genital warts: flat, raised, or cauliflower-like warts that are flesh-colored.
  • Pubic lice (crabs): extreme itching in the pubic area with tiny white eggs attached to the hair follicle.
  • Scabies: a pimple-like rash that is very itchy and often worse at night.
  • Gonorrhea: urethral discharge, burning with urination, and sometimes a rash or sometimes, no symptoms at all.
  • Syphilis: painless copper-colored rash or sore on the skin, swollen glands, and fever.
  • Chlamydia: burning and itchy discharge and painful urination or sometimes, no symptoms at all.
  • Trichomoniasis (Trich): a parasite causing smelly yellow-green discharge, painful urination, and pain with sex. Symptoms are worse in women than in men.

As shown by this list of STIs, each STI has its own unique symptoms. Self-diagnosis is not recommended, and neither is a google-diagnosis. It is important to speak with a physician if you think you may have herpes.

Treating Herpes

Genital herpes treatment is best started as early as possible- the faster the medication can stop the outbreak growth, the sooner you will begin to feel better. The medicines that clinicians may prescribe are antiviral treatments such as acyclovir (Zovirax), famciclovir (Famvir), and valacyclovir (Valtrex).

Possible side effects of these medications include headache, unusual tiredness, depression, nausea, vomiting, joint pain, and dizziness. These medicines are very different in their dosage and strength, so you should exactly follow your clinicians’s recommendations.

If you have genital herpes or have symptoms that make you suspect that you may have them, you should consider seeking an online medical consultation. The telehealth technology used by Alpha Medical provides instant access to clinicians who can perform an online consultation directly from the comfort of your home and provide online prescriptions that can be shipped directly to your door. Set up a membership with us to start your treatment today.

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