Signs and Symptoms of Herpes

May 7th 2016

After the initial outbreak of herpes, recurrences are common within the first year, with the symptoms sometimes showing up as much as five separate times within a year. While there is no cure for herpes, antiviral medications may reduce the pain of an outbreak and the risk of passing the infection on to someone else.


One of the key signs of both genital and oral herpes is the appearance of painful blisters. These blisters, which tend to appear in clusters, eventually burst to release a clear or yellowish fluid. Within a few days, they scab over with a crust that often has a yellowish tinge. The sores appear two to 20 days after being infected with herpes through contact with another infected person, and they last for a week or more.

With genital herpes, the sores appear on or around the genitals, including inside the vagina. Oral herpes sores appear on, around or in the mouth, sometimes spreading down the neck. Sometimes, particularly in younger people, they travel down inside the throat to the tonsils. In addition, infected gums may begin to swell and bleed.

Precursors to Herpes Sores

A couple of days before herpes sores appear, you may experience a tingling, burning or itching sensation around the genitals or mouth. After this, small red bumps appear, similar to pimples or the bumps that appear with ingrown hairs. For some people, the bumps never progress to the stage of forming blisters. Because of this, many people with herpes aren't aware that they have the disease.

Flu Symptoms

Some people experience fever, fatigue and muscle aches, particularly in the lower back in the case of genital herpes. In addition, they may experience swollen lymph nodes in either the groin or neck.

Problems With Urination

Because herpes blisters can be especially painful when urine passes over them, some people experience difficulties with urination. This symptom occurs far more often with women than with men.

Herpes Keratitis

Herpes keratitis occurs when the herpes virus reaches the eyes. The symptoms of herpes keratitis include a feeling of grittiness in the eyes, pain, blurred vision, sensitivity to light and a discharge from the eyes. Herpes keratitis can be very dangerous, leading to scarring of the cornea or even blindness if it's not treated promptly.


While some people with the herpes virus never experience signs or symptoms, many people notice obvious symptoms within a few days or weeks of the initial contact that infected them. Others don't experience symptoms for months or even years after contracting it. Initially, herpes symptoms can be very mild, but if you notice any of the signs of herpes, contact a doctor right away.

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