symptoms can vary greatly from person to person. Most people never have any
symptoms or have ones that are so mild they may not recognize them. But some
people have painful and bothersome symptoms. Sometimes the symptoms are
confused with other common problems, like yeast infections or vaginosis.
First-time (primary) outbreak
The primary outbreak
of genital herpes is the first infection with HSV. It tends to last longer and
be more severe than subsequent (recurrent) outbreaks. Symptoms of a primary
outbreak may include:
Researchers are hard at work on new treatments to fight genital herpes. Everyone wants a vaccine but experimental products have had mixed and somewhat discouraging results.
Microbicides are one option scientists are exploring in the search for new genital herpes treatments. Microbicides are chemicals that protect against infection by killing microbes (small organisms such as bacteria and viruses) before they enter the body. Two products that have made some progress tenofovir gel and siRNA nanoparticles,...
Flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache,
and muscle aches. These symptoms usually get better within a
Tingling, burning, itching, and redness at the site where an
outbreak is about to occur (prodrome).
Painful, itchy blisters on
the penis, on the vulva, or inside the vagina. Blisters may also appear on the
anus, buttocks, thighs, or scrotum, either alone or in clusters. They may be
barely noticeable or as large as a coin.
Blisters that break and
become shallow, painful, oozing sores.
Sometimes a person will first experience symptoms months
or even years after being infected. This can make it very difficult to identify
the sex partner who was the source of the infection.
Recurrent outbreaks of HSV
cause painful blisters that rupture, become sores, and heal after 6 to 12 days.
Symptoms of recurrent outbreaks are usually limited to genital blisters, sores,
and swollen glands. The blisters are most painful during the first 24 hours
after they appear. Most people do not have flu-like symptoms with recurrent
outbreaks. Recurrent outbreaks are usually less severe and do not last as long
as primary outbreaks.
Symptoms of genital herpes infections in both primary
and recurrent outbreaks tend to be more severe in women than in men.