The CDC says that 1 in 5 American adults and teenagers suffer from genital herpes. Learn to recognize the symptoms, tThen meet with your doctor for treatment options and to learn how to prevent spreading the infection.


Genital herpes, or HSV-2, is most commonly transmitted between sexual partners, one of whom has the virus. It can also be spread simply by touching an infected partner.


The first signs will begin to appear within 2 to 10 days after contact and transmission of the virus. Symptoms can last 2 to 3 weeks. They may recur monthly, gradually increasing in length of time between outbreaks. There is no cure.

First Outbreak

During the very first episode of a herpes outbreak, the patient may feel flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache and muscle aches. Other symptoms may include pressure in the abdomen, swollen lymph nodes in the genital region, and pain or difficulty urinating. Discharge from the vagina or penis is also common during the sloughing off process.


When a herpes outbreak is beginning, the first visible signs are small red bumps. These can be found in genital and anal areas, in urinary passages, or inside the vagina or on the cervix. Many times they can be found in clusters or groups.


The bumps increase in size and become blisters, or vesicles. These blisters are fluid-filled and can be painful.

Open Sores

When the blisters break open, they become open sores, or ulcers, that will continue to ooze or bleed. Eventually they will scab over and heal, frequently not leaving a scar.

Similar Disorders

Herpes cysts are commonly confused with many other disorders. These include hemorrhoids, acne, bug bites, heat rash, ingrown hair or irritation from shaving, jock itch, etc. Sometimes there can be a itchy crack in the skin or mucous membrane with no sore present, though, that is still herpes. Any of these symptoms should be immediately checked and tested by a medical professional.