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anonymous on September 14, 2011

I’m a virgin...could I have herpes?

I think I have genital herpes...I have a rash on my legs, and sometimes on the head of my penis. I am not married yet and I never had any kind of intercourse, oral sex or genital rubbing...so I don’t know how I got these symptoms. I shower daily, and I’m neat and clean. But I live in a hot and sweaty climate, and my legs get really sweaty during the summer. Could that be the cause?

answered by Lisa Oldson, MD on September 14, 2011

Thank you for your thorough description of your symptoms.

It’s unlikely that you would have genital herpes if you’ve never had any sexual contact. Herpes can be spread through skin-to-skin contact (like genital rubbing) with an infected person or through oral sex with an infected person. Of course, intercourse with someone who has genital herpes can also spread the infection. However, you noted that you haven’t participated in any of these activities... 

I encourage you to visit your doctor to find out the cause of your discomfort...but from what you describe, the rash on your legs and penis probably isn’t herpes. I say this because you don’t describe any of the usual herpes risk factors. 

Although it’s hard to know what is causing your rash without an examination...a fungal infection or another skin condition, like eczema or psoriasis are possibilities. To find out for sure the cause of your irritation, I encourage you to visit your regular doctor. There, your doctor can identify the root of your problem and help you with the treatment you need.  

Thanks again for sharing your concern, and I hope your symptoms are soon resolved. You can also learn more about herpes symptoms, prevention and treatment in our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2

Related Info: 

Lisa Oldson, MD

Dr. Oldson is Medical Director of the Analyte Physicians Group. She is on staff at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, as well as Clinical Instructor at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her areas of expertise include STDs (with a particular clinical emphasis on herpes), women's health, preventive medicine, diabetes, obesity and weight management, and mood and anxiety disorders. Dr. Oldson was educated at Rush Medical College and completed her residency at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago, IL.

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