Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on November 21, 2011

What are signs of herpes?

How would I know if I have herpes or not? What are the signs of herpes?

answered by
Lisa Oldson, MD on November 21, 2011

Thanks for asking this question, and I can understand your concern.

You asked about signs of herpes, and the truth is, most people who have a genital herpes infection don’t know it. Researchers think that between 80-90% of people with herpes have asymptomatic infections which means they don’t have any noticeable signs or symptoms.  

That said, for those who do notice signs of herpes, small clear blisters on a reddish area, on or near the genitals are common. These blisters will open and often become painful sores. Some people also experience discomfort with urination, itching or tingling feelings around the genitals, and possibly fever or other flu-like symptoms along with a herpes infection.

If most people don’t have symptoms, how can you know if you have herpes? Herpes testing is the only sure way to know if you have a herpes infection. If you currently have signs of herpes (such as small sores) a doctor’s visit is your best bet. But if you don’t currently have symptoms, you can take a herpes blood test. The test we offer is called the Herpes Simplex Virus Type-Specific HSV-1/2 IgG blood test and results can be available in just about three business days. It can tell you if you’ve ever been exposed to one of the herpes simplex viruses.

For more on our herpes antibody blood test, you may want to check out our Expert Guide to Herpes 1 + 2.  

Thanks for your question and I wish you the best of health.

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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