This explanation of the stages of herpes will help you understand the herpes virus much better. Don't worry too much at this point. You have a lot more to learn.
If you have any symptoms of herpes, you're noticing strange things going on in your body. Or you might be noticing strange things going on in your partner's body.
If so, you or your partner might have herpes. If you are worried that you or your partner may have herpes then go get STD tested. It's quick, easy, and affordable.
There are different types of herpes. The most common are Herpes Simplex 1 (Cold Sores) and Herpes Simplex 2 (genital herpes). Both cold sores (oral herpes) and genital herpes go through very similar stages of herpes.
Understanding these stages of herpes outbreak will help you come more at peace at what is happening to your body or your partner's body through this difficult time.
(Stages of Herpes : 1. Prodrome, Shedding, Redness of Skin 2. Small Blisters 3. Wet Ulcers 4. Dry Scabs 5. Healing)
1. Warning (Prodrome). A prodrome is a warning before symptoms of a disease occur.
The first stage of herpes is usually some warning that the virus has left the base of the spine (where it usually hangs out) and is now under the skin.
The herpes simplex virus then begins journeying to the skin surface. For HSV 1 it goes to the mouth / lips area. For the stages of genital herpes, the herpes virus goes to skin around the genitals or on the genitals themselves.
The herpes symptoms you'll experience here are:
For me, I've had genital herpes for 20 years, and I always feel some itchiness and irritation of the skin as the first stage of herpes outbreak.
2. Early Redness of the Skin. As you see in the diagram above, the virus will collect, then begin irritating the skin.
At this point, most people will see redness and puffiness starting to appear on the infected skin area around the mouth or in the genital area.
3. Small blisters (vesicles). In this stage of herpes, the first signs of herpes sores appear.
Small blisters will appear on the skin. These blisters will be filled with liquid. What's happening here is the virus is in full reproduction mode, shedding and reproducing around the skin area. You are highly contagious at this point.
4. Swelling (Edema). In this stage of oral herpes or this stage of genital herpes, the skin under the small blisters will get very red and irritated.
I've seen pictures of herpes where someone's whole genital area will swell up from a herpes outbreak. Usually for me, the outbreaks are not that intense.
5. Wet Ulcers. This is probably the most uncomfortable stage of herpes.
In this stage of herpes outbreak, the blisters will increase in size, and then begin popping and releasing liquids. The virus is now escaping your body full bore trying to reproduce in another person.
Certainly avoid kissing or sexual contact during this or any other stage of herpes.
5. Dry Crusts (Herpes Scabs). After the wet ulcers have released, the herpes sores will dry up and scab over.
Eventually they will fall off. I know this sounds gross, and something your mother probably told you a long time ago, but don't pick at the scabs. This increases the chances of leaving some scarring of the skin.
Again, your herpes sore on the mouth (cold sore) or genital herpes, will look pretty ugly at this point. But you will just have to live with it.
6. Healing of the Skin. In this stage of herpes outbreak, the scabs will have fallen off, and the skin will heal underneath.
The skin might be a little red at first, but it will heal completely within 3-7 days.
Again, it's probably best you avoid skin to skin contact such as kissing or sexual contact during this stage of genital herpes.
7. Asymptomatic. This is a worrisome stage of herpes.
Sometimes the herpes virus will go up the ganglia of the nerves to below the skin surface... then not break out into herpes sores.
But, and this is the scary part, it will be releasing the virus through shedding of your skin. In other words, the virus will be escaping through the natural shedding of your skin cells. This is called asymptomatic shedding.
Why this is a problem is because you will be passing the herpes virus and not even know that you're doing it. You don't see any herpes sores so you think you're not having an outbreak.
This is why up to 70% of genital herpes infections are contacted from asymptomatic shedding.
Well, to heal the stages of herpes outbreaks you need to be patient.
The herpes virus and your body will have to run it's course. It will take 10-12 days for this whole stage of the herpes cycle to come and go. And no, you cannot nor should you be kissing or having sex in this time. Unless, maybe you have a partner that is also Herpes positive, as you cannot get infected twice.