In The Know Zone

Herpes Symptoms


A person might have herpes without knowing. Sometimes herpes show no signs or symptoms of infection. However, if there are symptoms, a person might experience sores or lesions in genital areas. The sores are similar to cold sores seen in the mouth or lips areas. In addition, a person might have lesions, cuts, or bumps.

Other symptoms of genital herpes include: itching, burning, or tingling in the genital area (vagina, vulva, penis, scrotum, or testicles). A person might also experience aches or pains followed by a rash, bumps, blisters, cuts, or sores in the genital area. Unusual discharge from vagina or tip of penis might be experienced. Other symptoms include burning and/or pain when urinating. Flu-like symptoms such as headache, fever, and swollen glands in the lymph nodes near the groin might develop as well.

Genital herpes symptoms can appear in several areas of the body. The herpes virus lies latent (inactive) for a while. When the virus becomes active, it travels to the surface of the skin, where it may cause an outbreak.

If an outbreak occurs, it may happen in any of the following areas:

  • Anus
  • Buttocks
  • Thigh
  • Penis
  • Scrotum or testicles
  • Vagina
  • Vulva

Because genital herpes outbreaks can be mild or may heal quickly, people sometimes mistake genital herpes for other things, such as yeast infections, urinary tract infections, rough sex, abrasions, ingrown hair follicles, razor burn, hemorrhoids, jock itch, and insect bites. If you experience any of these symptoms make sure to go get checked. Prevent spreading genital herpes. Outbreaks may come and go through a lifetime.

The first sign of symptoms occur within 2 to 10 days of exposure. Without treatment, the first outbreak of genital herpes can last as long as 3 to 4 weeks, but in many cases, symptoms usually completely resolve within 2 to 12 days.

In The Know: STI Pamphlet/ DVD Package
In the Know: STI Pamphlet Package