Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions

Anonymous on November 21, 2011

What do photos of herpes look like?

I’d really like to see some photos of herpes to know what it looks like. Do you have any or know where I could find some?

answered by
Lisa Oldson, MD on November 21, 2011

Thanks for your question. I can understand your interest in seeing a picture of genital herpes. At the moment, we don’t have photos or illustrations of genital herpes available on our site. But you may have success with another reputable site such as the Mayo Clinic.

Although we don’t have photos, I can describe the signs and symptoms of a genital herpes infection for you. But first it’s important to know that most people who have a herpes infection don’t have any symptoms at all. It’s actually more common to have an asymptomatic (no symptoms) herpes infection than it is to have symptoms.  

For those people who do have signs and symptoms of a herpes outbreak, indications could include a number of the following:

  • Tingling, itching or pain in the genital area
  • Small blisters or sores on or near the genital area
  • Flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, muscle ache)
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Vaginal discharge in women

If you’ve noticed these signs ⎼ particularly blisters or sores ⎼ I encourage you to visit your doctor for a swab test. This test determines whether herpes simplex virus (HSV) is present in the sores. But testing accuracy decreases as the sores begin to heal, so visit your doctor quickly if you notice these signs of herpes infection. 

Can you still get tested for herpes if the sores have healed? Absolutely. If you had sores that healed, or you want to know if you have an asymptomatic herpes infection, you can take the Herpes Simplex Virus Type-Specific HSV-1/2 IgG blood test which will detect herpes antibodies in your blood.

Should your test be positive, our doctors are available to help you determine your next best steps and medication should you need it. To learn more about our herpes testing process, you can read more in our HIV and STD Testing Guide or call a care advisor for more. Good luck and thanks for your question. 

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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