What Does Herpes Look Like?

Wondering about "What does Herpes look like?"

You might be really worried about the signs and symptoms of some Genital Herpes or Oral Herpes (Cold Sores) in you or your partner.

You might be freaking out as you're reading this. That's normal, its very shocking to see strange things on your body.

When you do have a primary herpes outbreak or recurring outbreak, it can look different each time. 

It can easily be mistaken for a pimple, ingrown hair, canker sore, rash, or yeast infection. Some people worry themselves sick over trying to figure out what it really is.

Despite all of this, there are some things to look out for. I will describe some common herpes symptoms below and add some herpes pictures so you know what does herpes really look like.

Ultimately, the best thing to do, is to go get a proper herpes blood test. Better to do that than rely on this website for a diagnosis. If you know what I'm saying.

So What Does the Herpes Virus Look like?

Genital Herpes (HSV 2) and Oral Herpes/Cold Sores (HSV 1) come from the Herpes Virus. The herpes virus hangs on in the root nerves near the bottom of the spine. When irritated, it travels along the nerve cells then causes an outbreak either around the mouth or genital area.

As you can see, the herpes virus at a microscopic level looks like a round ball with many spikes on it. It's a tricky little virus. It replicates very quickly and likes to hide at the base of nerve cells when its not active.

That's why they've had so many problems trying to kill this virus and cure people with herpes because of its tendency to hide.

herpes virus under the microscope

(A microscopic picture of the Herpes Virus)

What Does Herpes Look Like Before An Outbreak?

See the tricky thing about this little virus is that before an outbreak or even during an outbreak, you might not have any symptoms.

That's why this thing gets so readily passed.

During an outbreak either around the mouth or around the genital area, you might have some of these symptoms...

Redness and irritation of the skin - this is the first herpes symptom to look for. Most people get an "itching or tingling" feeling in their mouths or genitals as the herpes virus travels up the ganglia (nerves) to the skin. Once at the skin, the herpes virus hangs out under the skin. Hence the "itching or tingling" feeling.

From my own experience, this tingling or itching is usually the first sign that I am going to have an outbreak.

So you might see a redness like a slight rash. This is why herpes gets mistaken for other things sometimes, because people think it is a rash.

Very Important!!! If you are diagnosed with herpes, even though you don't see a blister, do not have skin to skin contact or sex if you feel any rash or irritation around your mouth or genital areas. You are still contagious due to asymptomatic shedding.

What Does Herpes Look Like Before An Outbreak?

(A herpes picture of What Do Herpes Look Like before Outbreak though in reality, this is a picture of a mild outbreak)

What Does Herpes Look Like as a Blister?

Once the herpes virus comes to the skin it can create blisters. The Herpes Simplex Virus highly irritates the skin creating small blisters.

These herpes blisters are the most common signs of Genital Herpes or Oral Herpes (Cold Sores).

What do herpes look like? They are red irritated skin which then turn into small liquid-filled bubbles on the skin. Sometimes these blisters can be very, very small and get mistaken for a pimple. So, yes, herpes can look like a pimple.

Now if this is your first outbreak you could have many of these blisters. I think I had about 4 to 6 blisters during my primary outbreak. Though I have heard some crazy stories about people getting 10, 20 or more herpes blisters in a Primary Herpes outbreak.

Very Important!!! Do not have skin to skin contact especially sex during this time. You are highly contagious.

Here's a picture of what herpes looks like:

picture of herpes outbreak

(What Does Herpes Look Like: herpes picture of outbreak)

Also see: What Do Herpes Sores Look Like?

What Do Herpes Look Like After An Outbreak?

What does herpes look like after a few days? After a day or so, the blisters will scab over and get hard and crusty. I know that sounds gross and it kind of is. Then the herpes scabs will eventually fall off and the skin will heal. You won't even know that you had an outbreak in the area after a week or so.

Doubling up on your suppressive medication like Acyclovir or Valtrex will help the genital herpes outbreak go away faster. Speak to your doctor about this.

outbreak of herpes picture

(What Does Herpes Look Like After Outbreak: herpes scabs)

What Do Herpes Look Like on the Mouth

What does herpes look like on the mouth or on the lips? Well Oral Herpes is the HSV 1 virus, which is also a herpes virus. Genital Herpes is a slightly different strain of the herpes virus called HSV 2.

Oral Herpes, or HSV 1, is also known as Cold Sores. Cold sores go through the same process explained above. The skin typically on the lips or around the lips will get itchy or irritated. Then the herpes virus will break out in blisters which will scab over.

Very Important. Cold Sores or HSV I is highly contagious. Avoid kissing and oral sex during an outbreak if your partner does not have herpes.

Cold Sores

(Cold Sores around the mouth / lip area)

What Should You Do Next?

If you have read this page and think that you have some of these herpes symptoms then you should do these things:

1. Go get a Herpes Blood Test! You want to get a blood test like the the HerpeSelect or Western Blot. Your doctor can order this test for you. Or you can use a confidential and affordable service like STDcheck.com. You get your herpes blood test results as fast as 1-2 days.

2. Tell your partner. You need to let them know what is going on. You want to be honest with them and tell them you think you might have Herpes. That is a difficult, difficult conversation. But a necessary one. After that you should get your partner tested for the Herpes virus. They might have it already or might have given it to you.

3. Discontinue having sex during outbreaks. Otherwise you can transmit it to your partner. Most people with herpes have gotten it from their partners. This is the morally responsible thing to do.

4. Consider your treatment options. I've written a webpage called Herpes Treatments that explains many of the treatment options you have available to you.

6. Learn more about how to live with the virus. I have written a course with lots and lots of tips and strategies about how to live with either oral herpes (cold sores) or genital herpes. The name of the course is The Herpes Survival Guide.

It's good to learn more about herpes. Then you'll realize how to live a regular life with this tiny little virus. 

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