Herpes is considered to be a common sexually transmitted disease. It is said that one out of 5 adolescents and adults has herpes and occurs mostly to women. There are various herpes symptoms that a patient may experience once he has acquired the virus. Whichever body part herpes will manifest, it will usually have the same signs and symptoms.
Symptoms of Herpes: First Outbreak
The first herpes outbreak can either be very mild that some people don’t even really notice that they are already suffering from the disease or severe as the body is not yet immune with the virus. It usually develops within 2-20 days of contact and can persist for up to two weeks. Sores and blisters are visible and can be very itchy and painful at the same time. Once you already had your first outbreak, succeeding outbreaks will become less severe as your body develops antibodies for the virus.
Common Symptoms of Genital Herpes
The genitals are the most common affected area by herpes. People who have herpes genitalis experience common symptoms that include:
- Crusty and red areas around the genitals that can be without pain or itch – the affected area will become really red as if you have rashes in your genitals and some areas may be crusty or cracked. These signs can be without pain or itch but is uncommon.
- Itching and tingling sensation – it is common for people infected with herpes to feel a tingling and itching sensation in the affected area. Some people experience severe itching and tingling while some may experience mild symptoms.
- Small blisters or ulcers that can be very painful – this is the most common sign of having genital herpes. Small blisters or ulcers occur in clusters that are all fluid-filled and can be very painful.
- Painful urination – because of the blisters, urinating can also be very painful.
- Headache – some patients have experience mild to severe headaches due to herpes.
- Pain in the back – if the rashes and blisters occur at the back, it can be expected that the patient will feel back pains as well.
- Inflamed glands – swollen glands and lymph nodes are the physical manifestations of inflammation. If the lymph nodes in the affected area are already swollen, it could indicate that you may have herpes.
- Muscle fatigue
- Flu-like symptoms – sometimes herpes can also manifest flu-like symptoms such as fever and swollen lymph nodes.
- Eye infections – it is also possible that the virus will spread and affect one or both eyes. If this occurs, your eyes will become hypersensitive to light, painful, gritty feeling, and discharges can also manifest. If this is left untreated, it could result to scarring and the latter can cause a cloudy vision and even loss of vision.
However, one must keep in mind that these common herpes outbreak symptoms are not unique to genital herpes. Herpes on the mouth or on other parts of the body may also manifest such symptoms.
Aside from taking note of common signs and symptoms of herpes, it is also necessary to know the prodromes or warning signs of herpes for reoccurrences. If you already experienced herpes before, these prodomes will help you determine that you are having a reoccurrence. Consult with your doctor immediately if you see or feel any of the following:
- Severe itchiness of the affected area
- Tingling and burning sensation
- Numbness on affected area
- Body malaise
- Swollen lymph nodes in the affected area
- Painful butt, thighs, and legs
There are various stages throughout the course of having herpes. The signs and symptoms that will manifest will indicate the stage of the cycle of your disease.
- Inflammation – this is the first signs of herpes that will occur and will indicate early stages of the disease. Any swelling, tenderness and redness you see are indications of an inflammation. Sometimes the inflammation can include itching and sensitivity of the affected area as well. It must be noted though that inflammation may not progress to blisters, which is an indication of the second stage of herpes. Even if you have herpes, it may remain as inflammation and not develop any blisters. In such case, you will have a rashes-like sign on the skin accompanied by swelling and/or a feeling of tenderness.
- Blisters – this will indicate that herpes is progressing and is already on its second stage. Clusters of fluid-filled lesions will manifest that are red in color on the sides. These blisters can be very painful and itchy as well.
- Ulcers – this can be very similar to blisters; however, the fluid inside looks milky in colored as compared to colorless in blisters. This indicates the third stage of herpes and pus is already forming inside the ulcers. Ulcers are also very itchy and painful.
- Crust – a crusty or cracked surface is the fourth stage of herpes and it means that the disease cycle is almost over. The ulcers then become dry, crusty, and scabbing can occur. However, it must be noted that some ulcers do not crust and/or scab when healing. Hence, even if you don’t see a crusty surface, your disease can be healing already.
- Healing – this is the last stage of the cycle. Crusty blisters and scabs have already fallen off revealing a reddish or silvery skin. When you see the skin in such condition, viral replication is already over and the skin is not contagious anymore. Usually, the healing stage does not leave a scar so the skin looks as if it did not experience herpes at all. The virus will then retreat into your nerves and stay dormant there. If triggered, another cycle of herpes will then be experienced.
These herpes symptoms and signs will help you determine if you have herpes or not. However, it is very important to note that a thorough physical check up is still necessary because as mentioned above, only an inflammation which may seem harmless can occur as a sign of herpes. If you are feeling one or more of the symptoms for herpes above, consult with your doctor immediately.