Symptoms and signs of genital herpes

Symptoms and signs of herpes genital

Symptoms and signs of herpes genital

Many people who have contracted the herpes virus don’t even know that they have the virus because they never experience any symptoms from it. Studies have shown that up to 80% of people who are infected with the herpes virus don’t experience any symptoms. The primary infection, or the first appearance of symptoms one gets of genital herpes is usually the worst. The herpes virus is able to remain in the body without causing any symptoms for a long period of time. The virus can then reactivate at any time. The symptoms are more likely to reactivate when the person is suffering from fatigue and physical or emotional stress. Injury or irritation to the genital area can also cause an infection to reactivate.

When genital herpes becomes symptomatic it causes the following signs and symptoms:

  • Genital lesions
  • Herpes typically presents as painful lesions on the genital areas. These look like tiny blisters or raised bumps called papules. These sores may appear on the penis, inner thighs or anus. In women they appear on the vulva, clitoris or anus. These lesions are often very painful and may be described as having a burning sensation. Some people also report that the lesions are very itchy which causes much discomfort. Herpes lesions usually last for about 2 weeks before crust formation occurs and the lesions heal. Some ulcers, especially those on mucosal areas, don’t heal and remain for an extended period of time. Once these lesions disappear they may reoccur. Patients usually feel a tingling or burning sensation of the skin just before the lesions reoccur.

  • Discharge
  • Herpes virus sometimes causes a discharge from the penis or the vagina. Not everyone who has symptoms of genital herpes will have a discharge. Genital herpes should not be ruled out if a discharge is present. The colour of the discharge ranges from white to yellow to brown. There is no specific colour of discharge associated with herpes virus.

  • Headache
  • Patients infected with the herpes virus often complain of headache. Patients may also experience a headache when the herpes virus becomes reactivated.

  • Pain
  • The lesions found on the genitals of patients with the herpes virus is often very painful. The herpes virus may even cause pain and itching in the genital areas without the classic blister-like lesions being present. The degree of pain also varies a lot between different people.

  • Flue symptoms
  • Herpes virus may cause sudden onset of flu symptoms like fever, body pains, runny nose and a general feeling of being unwell. Most viruses start out with flue-like symptoms so it is difficult to diagnose any particular condition with only flue symptoms.

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Enlarged lymph nodes may be present in the groin area of patients infected with genital herpes. Lymph nodes are usually rubbery and are about 2cm x 2cm in size. These lymph nodes may also occasionally be painful.

  • Dysuria
  • Although uncommon in men, many women report pain when urinating when they are infected with the herpes virus.

  • Proctitis
  • Proctitis is inflammation and infection of the anus and rectum. Herpes virus may cause this condition in people who have anal intercourse.

    Cold sores

    Cold sores

  • Cold sores
  • Although not a symptom of genital herpes, a cold sore is a symptom of the herpes virus. It is possible to contract genital herpes from a person who has an active cold sore. Cold sores are painful red nodular or blister-like lesions which commonly occur on the lips of infected individuals. Cold sores often re-occur when the person’s immunity is lowered like during stressful times or when the person is ill. Trauma, like a cut to the lip, also increases the chances of a cold sore to re-occur.