Herpes is a very common sexually transmitted disease (STD) caused by the herpes simplex virus. Anyone can become infected by the herpes virus through the exchange of body fluids with an infected person whether the infected individual is exhibiting the symptoms of herpes or not. Many people carry the herpes virus and are unaware that they are infected because the virus initially presented itself very mildly or because they were unaware of the symptoms of the virus.
Some of you may be concerned that you have contracted the herpes virus and are asking “What does herpes look like?” and want to learn more about herpes symptoms. This article provides an overview of what herpes is, its symptoms and examples of what it looks like.
Herpes is an STD that is caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes simplex classified by the general area of the body that is affected. Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), or more commonly called oral herpes, is an infection of the mouth or face. Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2), referred to as genital herpes, is an infection of the genital area and other areas below the waist. Once contracted, the herpes virus can lay dormant in the body and reoccur on a regular or irregular basis over the course of your lifetime.
Physical symptoms of herpes are a series of, or cluster of, small, pimple-like fever blisters or open sores around the affected areas, usually the mouth and lips for oral herpes and genitals or rectum for genital herpes. These blisters last for several days to a week or more and break leaving tender sores. With the initial infection, other symptoms may present themselves including a slight temperature, achiness, soreness or tenderness of the affected area and lethargy. The fact that these symptoms are virtually identical to those of a cold or fever contributes to a large number of people who are unaware that they contracted the virus.
Both oral herpes and genital herpes are transmitted through direct physical contact and the exchange of bodily fluids. This can be from a simple kiss to oral sex or intercourse. Oral herpes is commonly contracted during childhood and its impact on a person’s life typically decreases over time through less frequent and less severe outbreaks as the person’s ages. Genital herpes is primarily spread through direct skin contact during sexual activity and presents as open sores or blisters around the genitals. It can also be spread to the mouth and throat through oral sex. Ranging from slight to severe outbreaks, the following photos are typical examples of both oral and genital herpes. Anyone’s specific outbreak may look similar or somewhat different than these examples.
Oral herpes pictures:
Genital herpes pictures:
Today there is no cure for herpes, but many types of treatments are available to address the symptoms and help prevent the spread of the virus. All of the information in this article is provided as an introduction and guide. You cannot know for certain if you have herpes or not simply by observing these symptoms. If you or someone you know believes they may have contracted herpes, they should have an STD test conducted by their physician.