What are some signs that I might have genital herpes?
Often it's hard to tell by looking. The textbook symptom of genital herpes is a cluster of small fluid-filled blisters that break, forming painful sores that crust and heal during several days. Affected areas include the penis, scrotum, vagina, vulva, urethra, anus, thighs, and buttocks.
But many people don't get these sores. Some people have no symptoms at all, while others get symptoms that can be easily mistaken for razor burn, pimples, bug bites, jock itch, hemorrhoids, an ingrown hair, or a vaginal yeast infection.
After you're infected, the symptoms go away, but can flare up from time to time. Luckily, the first outbreak usually is the worst. And some people may have just one or two outbreaks in their lifetime.
Most people infected with HSV-2 are not aware of their infection. However, if signs and symptoms occur during the first outbreak, they can be quite pronounced. The first outbreak usually occurs within two weeks after the virus is transmitted, and the sores typically heal within two to four weeks. Other signs and symptoms during the primary episode may include a second crop of sores, and flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands. However, most individuals with HSV-2 infection may never have sores, or they may have very mild signs that they do not even notice or that they mistake for insect bites or another skin condition.
Most people diagnosed with a first episode of genital herpes can expect to have several (typically four or five) outbreaks (symptomatic recurrences) within a year. Over time these recurrences usually decrease in frequency.
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