What Does Herpes Look Like?

What Does Herpes Look Like?

What does herpes look like, and how can you tell the difference between it and other sexually transmitted diseases?

Many times, herpes won’t “look like” anything because the symptoms can take days, weeks, months, or years to show up.

The herpes simplex virus enters the body through the skin, travels through your nervous system, and can lie dormant for long periods of time without causing any outbreak at all.

In the case of oral herpes (caused by the HSV-1 virus), symptoms will look like fever blisters or cold sores. Herpes symptoms may be easily mistaken for things such as ingrown hairs, pimples, bug bites, or irritation caused by shaving.

While there is no cure for herpes, there are plenty of ways to effectively reduce the symptoms.

Herpes sores look something like the image below. 

webmd_rm_photos_of_herpes_blisters
Image courtesy of WebMD.

When the symptoms of genital herpes (HSV-2) show up, you might only see small red bumps or blisters. This means the virus has traveled to the surface of your skin and that an outbreak is starting.

Can herpes be just one bump? When a herpes outbreak does occur, it usually looks like a small patch of white or red bumps. At first, the blisters might just itch or tingle but in time, they’ll become irritated and inflamed. As the outbreak worsens, you might experience fever-like symptoms including headaches, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, or backaches.

Herpes blisters will swell until they burst, scab over, and eventually heal.

What Causes Herpes Outbreaks?

If you’re living with herpes, you are probably wondering, what triggers an outbreak? Unfortunately, it is not known exactly what causes herpes to present symptoms. Several factors may play a role, including:

  • Menstruation
  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Illness
  • Exposure to sunlight

People who have herpes can experience as many as five outbreaks a year.

For many, this can be embarrassing and downright uncomfortable. However, symptoms of herpes are manageable with the right treatment.

Read: How Long Does a Herpes Outbreak Last?

Cautions on Self-Diagnosing

The most important thing to remember about herpes symptoms is that they can be easily mistaken for other problems, including vaginal infections, bacterial infections, other sexually transmitted infections, and bladder infections.

For this reason, you should never try to self-diagnose because it’s too easy to be wrong about what your symptoms really mean.

So, how do you know for sure if you have herpes? A medical professional will use blood or tissue samples to check your body for traces of the HSV antibodies. If the antibodies are found, a doctor can prescribe antiviral medications to mitigate or even prevent herpes outbreaks.

Get Herpes Medication Prescribed Online

Common medications that treat herpes are:

  • Valtrex
  • Valacyclovir
  • Famvir
  • Acyclovir

You can get these medications prescribed online by meeting with a board-certified PlushCare doctor. Our doctors commonly treat herpes and if you need an STD testing order, they can provide that as well.

The average herpes appointment lasts less than 15 minutes and costs less than $25. Just book, meet, and grab your prescription from your pharmacy.

Appointments as low as $20.

Use our cost checker to see what you’ll pay

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Talk to a Doctor about Herpes

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “More than one out of every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes.”  Additionally, nearly half of all adults will contract oral herpes in their lifetime.

Because herpes is so prevalent and can lay dormant causing no symptoms, it is imperative to get tested. Just click here to set up an appointment with a PlushCare doctor today.

PlushCare makes it simple and convenient with appointments available every 15 minutes via phone or desktop computer. We also accept insurance, so most people pay under $30 for an appointment.


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Article Sources

cdc.gov. Prevalence of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 and Type 2 in Persons Aged 14–49: United States, 2015–2016. Accessed on November 17, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/products/databriefs/db304.htm

cdc.gov. Genital Herpes – CDC Fact Sheet. Accessed on November 17, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm#:~:text=How%20common%20is%20genital%20herpes,49%20years%20have%20genital%20herpes.

hopkinsmedicine.org. Oral Herpes. Accessed on November 17, 2020. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/herpes-hsv1-and-hsv2/oral-herpes#:~:text=The%20initial%20(primary)%20infection%20of,lips%20and%20throughout%20the%20mouth.

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