Last Updated on July 29, 2021 by Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT
Pictures of STIs/STDs
When looking for pictures of STIs/STDs on google or any other search engine, you’re bound to come across incredibly graphic, disgusting, and down right scary pictures of STDs.
While these pictures are sometimes real depictions of specific STIs/STDs, they are often the very worst case scenarios and can be meant to scare people into abstinence.
This serves absolutely no purpose when you think you might have something and would like to compare your physical symptoms to more realistic photos of first occurrences of STIs/STDs in people who are not immunocompromised (a lot of the gruesome photos you come across are from people who have additional medical conditions, and, as a result, have much worse STD symptoms).
STI Masterclass: Breaking Through the Fear, Shame, and Stigma of an STI Diagnosis
If you’re fed up with feeling unworthy, less-than, damaged, or limited by your STI, then join the next cohort in the 60-Day Masterclass, and leave feeling empowered, knowledgable, and confident again!
Click Here to Learn More
So, The STI Project has scoured the web yet again and has found the most reputable resources for herpes pictures. These images of herpes come from dermatologist’s websites or other similarly authoritative locations, include multiple herpes symptom severities, and also incorporate different skin types, symptom locations, and stages of herpes.
While we STRONGLY encourage getting tested and discourage diagnosing or treating oneself via pictures alone (herpes pictures disclaimer), we realize the desire to compare one’s own symptoms with those of others in hopes of narrowing the possibilities. Maybe all of this is new to you; that’s ok – it’s not always easy to know if you should get STD testing done.
Remember, the most common STI/STD symptom is NO symptom at all; so, if you find your symptoms do not match any of the herpes images below, this does NOT mean you are STI negative, and you should still be tested as soon as possible to avoid complications of untreated STDs.
Furthermore, if you’ve engaged in ANY partnered sexual activity, you are at risk of contracting or transmitting an STI/STD (see this list of sexual activities that put you at risk for contracting an STD).
Without further ado, happy photo hunting! 😉
Pictures of Herpes
Think you might have an STI/STD?
Get a quick, confidential STD test at a lab of your choice.
- Results in 1-2 days
- Testing takes 5 minutes
- 4,500 labs nationwide
- Find a lab near you
Test for STDs from the comfort of your own home.
- Delivered nationwide to your door
- Testing takes 10-15 minutes
- Results in 1-5 days
- Free consultations
- All about Herpes Disclosure
- How to Not Give an Eff about Having an STI
- STD? What Now? Your Ultimate Reference Guide
- Think You Might Have an STD?
- STD Symptoms
- Detailed Herpes Symptoms
- Herpes Overview
- Herpes In-Depth
- Other Pictures of STDs
- List of all STDs
- Free and Low-Cost STD Testing Near You (Globally)
- Armangue, Thaís, et al. “Frequency, symptoms, risk factors, and outcomes of autoimmune encephalitis after herpes simplex encephalitis: a prospective observational study and retrospective analysis.” The Lancet Neurology 17.9 (2018): 760-772.
- Groves, Mary Jo. “Genital herpes: a review.” Am Fam Physician 93.11 (2016): 928-934.
- Jonker, Iris, et al. “The association between herpes virus infections and functional somatic symptoms in a general population of adolescents. The TRAILS study.” PloS one 12.10 (2017): e0185608.
- Verhoeven, Dirk HJ, et al. “Reactivation of human herpes virus-6 after pediatric stem cell transplantation: risk factors, onset, clinical symptoms and association with severity of acute graft-versus-host disease.” The Pediatric infectious disease journal 34.10 (2015): 1118-1127.
- Croll, Benjamin J., et al. “MRI diagnosis of herpes simplex encephalitis in an elderly man with nonspecific symptoms.” Radiology case reports 12.1 (2017): 159-160.
- Tan, S. K., and B. A. Pinsky. “Molecular Testing for Herpes Viruses.” Diagnostic Molecular Pathology. Academic Press, 2017. 89-101.
- Piret, Jocelyne, Nathalie Goyette, and Guy Boivin. “Novel method based on real-time cell analysis for drug susceptibility testing of herpes simplex virus and human cytomegalovirus.” Journal of clinical microbiology 54.8 (2016): 2120-2127.
- Hauser, Ronald G., et al. “Reply to Galen,“Screening cerebrospinal fluid prior to herpes simplex virus pcr testing might miss cases of herpes simplex encephalitis”.” Journal of clinical microbiology 55.10 (2017): 3144.
- Hauser, Ronald G., et al. “Cost-effectiveness study of criteria for screening cerebrospinal fluid to determine the need for herpes simplex virus PCR testing.” Journal of clinical microbiology 55.5 (2017): 1566-1575.
- Bohn-Wippert, Kathrin, et al. “Resistance testing of clinical herpes simplex virus type 2 isolates collected over 4 decades.” International Journal of Medical Microbiology 305.7 (2015): 644-651.
- Wilhelmus, Kirk R. “Antiviral treatment and other therapeutic interventions for herpes simplex virus epithelial keratitis.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 1 (2015).
- James, Scott H., and David W. Kimberlin. “Neonatal herpes simplex virus infection: epidemiology and treatment.” Clinics in perinatology 42.1 (2015): 47-59.
- Jeon, Young Hoon. “Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: practical consideration for prevention and treatment.” The Korean journal of pain 28.3 (2015): 177.
- Eppink ST, Kumar S, Miele K, Chesson H. Lifetime medical costs of genital herpes in the United States: Estimates from insurance claims. Sex Transm Dis. (2021).
- Breier, Alan, et al. “Herpes simplex virus 1 infection and valacyclovir treatment in schizophrenia: Results from the VISTA study.” Schizophrenia research (2018).
- Varanasi, Siva Karthik, et al. “Azacytidine treatment inhibits the progression of herpes stromal keratitis by enhancing regulatory T cell function.” Journal of virology 91.7 (2017): e02367-16.
- Abdool Karim, Salim S., et al. “Tenofovir gel for the prevention of herpes simplex virus type 2 infection.” New England Journal of Medicine 373.6 (2015): 530-539.
- Jeon, Young Hoon. “Herpes zoster and postherpetic neuralgia: practical consideration for prevention and treatment.” The Korean journal of pain 28.3 (2015): 177.
- Marrazzo, Jeanne M., et al. “Tenofovir Gel for Prevention of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Acquisition: Findings From the VOICE Trial.” The Journal of infectious diseases (2019).
- Chi, Ching‐Chi, et al. “Interventions for prevention of herpes simplex labialis (cold sores on the lips).” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 8 (2015).
- Colombel, Jean-Frédéric. “Herpes zoster in patients receiving JAK inhibitors for ulcerative colitis: mechanism, epidemiology, management, and prevention.” Inflammatory bowel diseases 24.10 (2018): 2173-2182.
- Oevermann, Lena, et al. “Transmission of chromosomally integrated human herpes virus-6A via haploidentical stem cell transplantation poses a risk for virus reactivation and associated complications.” Bone marrow transplantation (2019): 1.
- Tronstein E, Johnston C, Huang ML, Selke S, Magaret A, Warren T, Corey L, Wald A. Genital shedding of herpes simplex virus among symptomatic and asymptomatic persons with HSV-2 infection. JAMA. (2011).
- Pandey, Utsav, et al. “Inferred father-to-son transmission of herpes simplex virus results in near-perfect preservation of viral genome identity and in vivo phenotypes.” Scientific reports 7.1 (2017): 13666.
- Ramchandani M, Selke S, Magaret A, Barnum G, Huang MW, Corey L, Wald A. Prospective cohort study showing persistent HSV-2 shedding in women with genital herpes 2 years after acquisition. Sex Transm Infect. (2018).
- Ceña-Diez, Rafael, et al. “Prevention of vaginal and rectal herpes simplex virus type 2 transmission in mice: Mechanism of antiviral action.” International journal of nanomedicine 11 (2016): 2147.
- Omori, Ryosuke, and Laith J. Abu-Raddad. “Sexual network drivers of HIV and herpes simplex virus type 2 transmission.” AIDS (London, England) 31.12 (2017): 1721.
- Aebi-Popp, Karoline, et al. “High prevalence of herpes simplex virus (HSV)-type 2 co-infection among HIV-positive women in Ukraine, but no increased HIV mother-to-child transmission risk.” BMC pregnancy and childbirth 16.1 (2016): 94.
Ok I’ve had itchiness in my private area, between that area
N my anus n between my butt cheeks/anus for about 5 yrs now n the little research that I’ve done I came up with an athletes foot yeast infection which would make sense cause on my penis I get these small blisters the same kind u get from an athletes foot I just wanna kno what this is, is it treatable, n how to treat it. thank you for your time.
Hi there –
Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, I’m unable to tell you what you’re experiencing by those symptoms alone. Pictures can help point you in the right direction, but I’m guessing you haven’t yet found something that matches… Even if you do, you’ll need to see a professional for treatment as well – especially considering this has been on-going for a number of years.
Itching and small blisters could be any number of things from herpes, a fungal infection, hemorrhoids, eczema, etc., etc..
Your best best is to see a professional and get tested – if it’s contagious, you could spread it to others. If it is or isn’t contagious, it could still get progressively worse. If you’re without insurance or unable to pay the exorbitant fees of a doctors visit, this link:https://thestiproject.com/std-resources/std-testing-centers/ can help you find free or low-cost clinics globally.
Best wishes and feel free to let us know what you find out 🙂
Hi there. I recently was diagnosed with hsv1. Since my first outbreak (which was horrifically painful and gross) I have been taking acyclovir consistently. About 4 days ago I noticed little bumbs on my inner butt cheeks and on the top of my vagina where the hair grows. The bumps are noy painful and only ich a little if I’m too moist down there. I’ve looked up pictures via the internet and the bumps are similar to herpes as well as razor burn. I need some advice. I can’t see my doctor until after christmas. What should I do?
Hi Cindy –
It’s certainly possible you have outbreaks in a new location – mine appear on my butt cheeks, whereas, years ago they were vaginal. As the virus itself lives in the nerve endings at the base of your spine (or at the base of the neck, if your outbreaks were above the waist), it’s not uncommon for them to appear in nearby locations. That being said, I’m not certain what you’re experiencing is, in fact, another herpes outbreak based on your description alone.
Whatever it is you’re noticing, I imagine it is being exacerbated by a weakened immune system (stress from the holidays, a recent herpes diagnosis, etc.). Your best bet is to do as much as you can to care for yourself and your immune health while you’re waiting to see your doctor.
Lastly, should what you’re experiencing be another outbreak in a different location, you might also want to chat with your doc about different prescriptions or trying some additional antivirals – like acyclovir in cream form for the outbreaks themselves (helps alleviate pain, itching, and reduce duration), as well as over-the-counter helpers like L-Lysine. I’ve found, everyone responds differently to the typical anti-viral prescriptions (acyclovir, famvir, valtrex, zovirax). For me, acyclovir in pill form has not been as effective as valtrex, however, I’ve heard just the opposite from others.
I have a feeling, it’s going to be a matter of trying a couple of them out and determining what works best for you physiologically – albeit, that will temporarily be to the detriment of your poor skin as you work to find the most optimum solution, but once you find a nice combination, most people have less frequent and less severe outbreaks for good… That, and once your body has begun to build some natural antibodies, outbreaks will slowly become less noxious for you too.
I really hope this helps and your holidays aren’t overburdened by this! I wish you all the best and feel free to comment or ask additional questions as necessary!
I have herpes 1and 2 and i am having problems seeing at times ,so do you think i will go blind in one or both of my eyes some day. thank you.
Hi Leon –
Well, that all depends, really, and this question would be best asked of your physician. If you do have ocular herpes, it can range from a simple infection to a condition that could possibly cause blindness… So, you would need to find out if your HSV1 is ocular and then what form of herpes it is. There are several forms of eye herpes:
Herpes keratitis is the most common form of eye herpes and is a viral corneal infection. Ocular herpes in this form generally affects only the top layer, or the epithelium, of the cornea, and usually heals without scarring.
Stromal keratitis occurs when the infection goes deeper into the layers of the cornea. This can lead to scarring, loss of vision and, occasionally, blindness. Stromal keratitis is thought to be caused by a late immune response to the original infection. Although the condition is rare, the National Eye Institute reports that stromal keratitis is the leading cause of corneal scarring that subsequently causes blindness in the United States.
Iridocyclitis is a serious form of eye herpes where the iris and surrounding tissues inside the eye become inflamed, causing severe sensitivity to light, blurred vision, pain and red eyes. Iridocyclitis is a type of uveitis that affects the more frontal portions of the inside of the eye.
When this infection occurs in the retina, or the inside lining of the back of the eye, it is known as herpes retinitis.
Thanks for your question!
Five months ago I was diagnosed with anal herpes. About six weeks ago I had an outbreak with burning and itching sensations, which lasted for about a week. I currently do not have any uncomfortable symptoms however I do have two sores just on the inside of my anus. These two sores do not appear reddesh at all however they look like two “knobs” of extra skin. Obviously herpes is forever however will these sores ever disappear or are they going to stay on my anus forever also?
Hi Michael –
Well, by the sounds of it, the ‘knobs’ of skin are not sensitive, itchy, or painful and are quite different from your original anal herpes symptoms. So, it’s possible the skin you’re noticing now is not herpes. It could be a genital warts infection – genital warts is a viral infection caused by the human papillomavirus, and one can have both infections at once. Genital warts as opposed to genital/anal herpes does eventually go away, but it can take some time.
However, as you’ve likely spent more time recently than ever before examining that area, they could be entirely benign, something that’s been there for a while, or one of the common things mistaken for an STD… All of those are plausible outcomes, and since you’ve been seeing a medical practitioner, it’s wise to go in again while your visual symptoms – the ‘knobs’ of extra skin – are still present, as everything is easiest to diagnose while symptoms are present, and they would be able to tell you for sure.
Im having a burning sensation when I pee, I also itch really bad & the inside of my vagina is swollen. im also experiencing red bumps everywhere. im not sure what this is, & im too scared to tell anybody & them be judgmental about it. please, help. thank you!
Hi Renee –
Your symptoms could be something sexually transmitted, but they could also be a non-STD related infection – it’s hard to tell by just the description alone, because they match a number of different ailments. As awkward as it is to see someone in such a vulnerable state, it’s really important you go in and see a medical practitioner while you still have symptoms. Often, symptoms will dissipate, but the infection remains and causes irreversible damage internally – depending on what it is you have. Everything is easiest to diagnose while symptoms are still present, and you definitely want to treat what you’re experiencing before it gets worse and with the right medication….
Because you’re quite scared and have physical symptoms that need to be seen in person, I’d suggest finding a planned parenthood, an OB/GYN, or an STD clinic rather than a general practitioner. They deal with genital issues all of the time and are typically much more sensitive when it comes to sexually transmitted infections and diseases – especially planned parenthoods. Should the idea of going in to see someone while talking about your sex life be too much to fathom, you could also get private testing done. If you test positive for anything, they can prescribe medication, they provide a doctor consultation, and if you have insurance, that’s accepted as well – private testing is a little less invasive and you don’t have to submit to a visual evaluation of your genitals. Either way, though, it’s important you get tested/treated right away.
Thanks so much for reaching out.
Ok if you have herpes and you havent had an outbreak can your partner still get infected
Hi Miley –
Yes; if you have herpes, you can transmit it to a partner even if you’ve never had an outbreak (asymptomatic shedding).
Thanks for your question!
Hi. Several years ago my doctor said I had genital herpes, I rarely have outbreaks & currently do not take medication for it. My last pap was abnormal due to hpv, further testing turned out fine. But lately I’ve been getting these bumps down there. They don’t itch or anything. I can shave over them! I noticed one yesterday that was inflammed & had a sort of head on it. I tried to mash it, but it hurt too bad! What’s going on?? There are like 5 right now.
Hi Crystal –
It’s hard to discern by just your description alone, but, remember, herpes (both strains) doesn’t go away; so, you will always carry the virus and be able to transmit it to others even though you’ve never had noticeable symptoms (outbreaks).
That being said, the bumps you’re experiencing could be anything from genital warts or molluscum contagiosum to clogged pores. Your best bet is to go in and see a medical professional while you still have visual symptoms, as everything is easier to diagnose while symptoms are present. It’s probably a good idea to get a full STD testing panel done too, and, whatever you do, don’t pop or mash anything. If what you have is an infection, playing with it, popping it, picking at it, or touching it could spread the infection and multiply the symptoms.
Thanks for your question, Crystal!
Thank you Jenelle!
I recently went to the doctor and she told me I have genital herpes. We are waiting for the blood test as she said there wasn’t enough on the surface to do a swab. I have never had symptoms before, and now I am a newly wed, my husband and I have been together over a year and married for a few short months. Im really upset about this and so is my husband, I am having a really hard time coming to terms with this and find myself crying all the time. Iam concerned about our future sex life and relationship in general. Are we going to have to use protection everytime? What about oral sex? Is there hope for a normal life after this? Please help.
Hi Nervous –
Thanks for reaching out. I can certainly understand why you’re concerned. The good news is, this doesn’t have to ruin or compromise your relationship, and you’ll definitely be able to have a ‘normal’ life – albeit, normal is an entirely subjective term, and I’d argue there’s really nothing normal about anyone’s life or sex life, as we’re all entirely unique!
Anyhow, your best bet is to start at our STD? What Now? post and work your way around from there. There’s also a forum topic addressing safer sex with herpes, in particular.
Thanks again for your message.
Hi, I was wondering if I may have herpes simplex. The other night while in the shower I was shaving and realized I had some bumps off on the inside of my butt cheeks very near and could possibly be on the inside of my anus. They are a rough guess at about 10 or 12. I’m not so sure if they are like everyone is describing as bumps they look more like lesions and they do not hurt at all they just look really bad could this still be herpes without the pain? I haven’t been to the doctor yet out of fear if everyone in my small town found out.
Hi Drew –
It sounds like you could have either molluscum contagiosum or genital warts (HPV), however, it’s hard to discern from just a description alone. Your best bet is to see a medical professional while your symptoms are still present, as everything is easiest to diagnose while visual symptoms persist.
First off, thank you for creating this amazing site. It has given me so much peace in a time of turmoil.
As someone so knowledgable about STD’s, I too would like your opinion on my symptoms, just to hear an answer from someone who isn’t trying to reassure me. This summer, after having unprotected sex with a couple of partners, I began to notice small, white blisters appear sporadically around my bikini line. The blisters do not hurt at all, but they do grow larger, burst, and disappear (without a crust) within a matter of 1 or 2 days. Though they do not crust, they do leave a sort of mark that resembles the new, shiny skin that appears after a crust has fallen off. I immediately went to a health care provider who told me I did not have herpes (via visual examination.)
Well, over the past few months, these blisters have come and gone continuously — never more than one or two at a time. I’ve also noticed that they appear every time after I shave, about two days later. I went to a second women’s health care clinic while I had active symptoms, and the doctor took a swab of the blister which came back negative for herpes. She told me to throw away my razors, as it could be a recurring bacterial infection. Everything was fine for a few weeks, but after shaving again two days ago, another blister has shown up on my bikini line, at its usual site.
I’m at a loss as to what to think. My initial relief at the negative diagnosis is now overshadowed by dark thoughts of doubt. Internet searching is making me crazy, trying to find some infection or bacteria that could be the cause of painless, reoccurring blisters after shaving irritation, but all threads and web md comments tell me I have herpes. Could the lab tests have been incorrect? Can there be any other cause for my condition?
I keep making appointments every time a blister comes up, but often times, they burst before a doctor is available to see me in a day or two.
Any opinion or comment you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.
Hi Ally –
Well, without seeing the blisters in question, it is hard to say for sure, and, even then, it can be tough (seems like the healthcare professionals you’ve seen are similarly uncertain). By just your description alone, though, I’m inclined to think you either have molluscum contagiosum (MC) or razor burn. I know, those are two seemingly opposite extremes….
The next time a bump appears, first, take a photo of it (up close) to show to a medical professional (in case it’s gone by the time you go in), but also see if you can schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. Most dermatologists are very familiar with molluscum, and if it’s not an infection like MC, they might also have some helpful suggestions on how to reduce or treat the bumps you’re noticing on your bikini line. The bumps may be nothing more than irritation resulting from both shaving and your underwear line, but even so, a dermatologist will probably suggest some alternatives like sensitive shave cream or cotton undies.
In short, I don’t think the lab tests you had done for herpes were incorrect, rather, I think what you experiencing is a different infection altogether or something more benign like razor bumps. Of course, having a full panel of STI/STD tests – HIV, chlamydia, gonorrhea, HSV I&II, syphilis, Hepatitis B&C) never hurts, but in so far as the bumps are concerned, a dermatologist could be your best bet for a clear diagnosis.
Thanks for your questions!
Did you ever find out whats going on? I use to use these cheap pink razors and I use to get one bump (last about 3 days and then its gone) almost everytime i shaved. I stopped using this razors for MONTHS and never saw this bump until I used one two nights ago and BOOM here it is again. Its slightly swolen and a little irritated and over a small area. And its a weekend so I went be able to see anyone til tuesday-ish. Just wondered what I had to look forward to. Thanks
Hi Sarah –
There’s a good chance that what you’re noticing is just normal razor burn due to a crappy razor, however, it’s good that you’re planning to get it checked out as well.
Everything is easiest to diagnose while symptoms are still present – even if the symptom is simple irritation from a cheap razor – and it never hurts to go in, share your concern, and get tested when it’s on your mind.
I emailed you and failed to check the “follow up after response” button so just let me know what had come up regarding the situation
No problem. 🙂
I have just relocated to China with my family of 5 . I experienced a couple of odd bumps on my inner butt cheek vagina area a few days ago and it has progressively gotten worse. I went to see a Chinese dermatologist and after looking at the area for a few seconds she said it was Herpes. Can this be right? I have been married for 14 years in a monogomous relationship and, have never had any symptoms. Could I have had it all this time and have never have known, is this a misdiagnosis or has my spouse cheated? I can’t understand why this is happening. Thanks, Anne
Hi Anne –
Without seeing the outbreak, I can’t be sure, but I’m inclined to believe the dermatologist’s diagnosis was accurate.
All of the things you mentioned are possible, unfortunately. That’s often one of the hardest parts about a new diagnosis: there’s no way to know for sure where or who it came from unless you were tested before and after each new partner. It’s quite common for herpes to lie dormant for years at a time (sometimes forever) without experiencing any noticeable symptoms. It’s still transmittable to others during that time, even though the risk is lower when an outbreak is not present, but that’s why it’s also possible your husband had herpes too and didn’t know it. Your infection could be a new infection from him or an old infection you’ve had for years that’s been asymptomatic. He might be infected as well – either from you and an old infection, from someone else from years ago before you were partners, or from a new partner – all of those scenarios are possibilities.
I know this isn’t particularly helpful, as it likely leaves you with additional questions. Research is your best ally right now, as well as open communication with your hubby, of course.
When I first got with my husband 13 yrs ago he gave me genital herpes. There was always only one certain spot I would have an out break. It’s been over a year I haven’t had one but now that I did I have it where my rectum is. My question is why did it come back somewhere else? I’ve never seen my husband have an out break on on his penis just on his lips. I’m scared and confused.
Hi Raquel –
It’s actually fairly common for a long-term infection to appear in a nearby location.
Keep in mind, HSV lives in the nerves. Genital herpes typically resides in the nerves toward the base of the spine – the sacral nerves. There it waits for the immune system to drop, and it sends viral particles to the surface – the surface can be on the genitals or the buttocks.
In regard to your husband’s infection, he may have given you his infection orally, which would explain the outbreaks on his lips, or he could be asymptomatic genitally – meaning he has a genital HSV infection, but he doesn’t experience active outbreaks. If he gets cold sores (oral HSV) and you contracted it from him, chances are, though, your genital infection is HSV type 1.
Hi there. I think i just might have herpes, but it doesn’t look anything like any of the pictures above. I have two small red sore like things on the region between my vagina and (excuse my language) butthole. I only really notice them when i pee. The actual peeing process doesn’t hurt, just if the urine hits it or when i wipe. It feels like i have a cut. It has been there for maybe about a week now. I’m scared to tell my mother and I really don’t want to go to the doctor and show them like…EVERYTHING. Is there anything else that this could be confused with?
Hi Alli –
By the sounds of it, it could be herpes, but it’s hard to tell by just your description alone. Herpes does not always present in the same way for every person, so that’s why it’s important to see a medical professional and/or get tested. The symptoms you’ve mentioned could be a number of different things from an infection to simple irritation, and even if they go away on their own, the cause could still be present. Commonly, symptoms subside, but the infection persists.
If you’d rather not submit to a physical exam, you could always get a herpes blood test done instead. The only trouble is a blood test doesn’t indicate the location of the infection, so even a positive HSV test won’t tell you for sure that the symptoms you’re experiencing and the results you receive are correlated.
Your best bet is to be seen (despite it being an awkward visit), as everything is easiest to diagnose while visual symptoms are present.
Last month I was diagnosed with HSV2 and my world was turned upside down. I went through a roller coaster of emotions and still am. But I have the most amazing and supportive boyfriend which has helped a lot.
I’ve been sexually active for roughly 10years and honesty have had my fair share of partners, same applies to my now current boyfriend. I know the virus can lay dormant for as long as it wishes. I never did experience the tell tale signs/symptoms throughout these years (I fully understand asymptomatic as well) and been with my now current boyfriend 18months with only two partners before him. I calmed way down starting in early/mid 20s.
Anyhow, my boyfriend and I had a steady sex life. Exactly two days after one session, in a nutshell, I was having a full blown initial outbreak. I saw my GYN and she knew it was herpes by site. I naturally had a culture taken and my blood tested.
Not surprised when the culture came back positive. But my blood test was negative. Negative.
I’ve done a good bit of research and found with initial outbreaks and have been tested so soon after.. my body obviously did not have the time for the detectable antibodies to form within my bloodstream. I read I should wait a few months to see a positive blood test; which I don’t need to because culture was postive and I know what I have.
Ok sorry for the long ramblings.. but my question is…
If someone is a carrier if the virus but is asymptomatic and the virus has been laying dormant, wouldn’t my blood work come back positive too? If I was the one carrying the virus why was my blood test negative?
Would this then suggest that since I had my inital outbreak two days after a night of sex with my boyfriend that he was the dormant carrier? My body didn’t have the time to produce the antibodies.
I’m not looking to blame, I’m very much in love with him and merely quite curious to learn all that I can.
And the whole negative blood results have been throwing me off.
Hi Lauren –
Good question. So, there are two possibilities here… First, it’s possible the blood test you took resulted in a false negative. Herpes blood tests work reasonably well, but no test is perfect. It’s always possible for a test to give inaccurate results, and the accuracy of a herpes blood test depends on which specific test was used. The sensitivity/specificity of two different relatively standard Herpes blood tests are as follows:
~91% sensitivity and 92% specificity for HSV1
~96% sensitivity and 97% specificity for HSV2
~99% sensitivity and 95% specificity for HSV1
~97% sensitivity and 98% specificity for HSV2
You’re also right about blood tests and antibodies. Blood tests can take up to 3-6 months to turn positive after exposure, because it takes that time for your body to make IgG antibodies in response to an infection. So, it is possible your boyfriend was the one who transmitted it to you and you’ve only recently been exposed.
Thanks for your question!
Hello. I was diagnosed with Herpes 1 & 2 approximately 3 years ago however I do not know when I contracted it. I recently had by first outbreak. Severely painful blisters near my anus which healed after a round of Valtrex. Less than one week later I have a single painful bump at the base of my nose. Can an outbreak be a single bump and can it occur while taking medication? This has caused me angst and paranoia. I do not know what to expect from now on…now that I’ve had my 1st outbreak at age 40! Please help me reclaim my peace and sanity.
Hi TS6282 –
Great questions! Yes, an HSV outbreak – both type 1 & type 2 – can be a single bump. Everyone presents differently based upon the strain they have, where it’s located, along with the individual’s overall health and immune system.
It’s also possible to have an outbreak while taking medication. Valtrex can reduce the severity and number of occurrences, but it doesn’t necessarily eliminate them. That you had one outbreak immediately following the first is not uncommon, because your immune system was weakened by the first outbreak.
Thanks for your questions!
I have a story related to Ally’s. I use to use thse cheap pink razors and I use to get ONE small area of irritation for about a day to three days. And its ALWAYS in the same exact spot. And the time I wasn’t able to use shaving cream that I always use because I was low on it and in a rush. I hadnt used these razors in MONTHS yet I use them.one time and I get this one bump with sore red skin and irritation only in that one spot. Do you think its just razor bumps or more then that?
Hi Sarah –
It could be razor burn as a result of just a bad razor, and it could also be an infection that outbreaks when you irritate the skin nearby. So, it’s a good idea to get it checked out while there’s a visual sign of what you’re experiencing, and then the clinician you see will be able to suggest any additional testing they think is applicable.
Thanks for your question!
I’ve recently been exposed to herpes. I was seeing this guy for about two months and long story short he had an outbreak but was told it didn’t look like herpes, but he got a swab test anyway. A week after that we had unprotected sex and the next day the swab test came back positive. I’m pretty sure I’ve contracted HSV, but it’ll only a matter of time till I get an outbreak. I went to the doctor today p, but only got a blood test because there was nothing to swab. My question is what are early signs of an outbreak? It’s been a week and a day, when will I most likely have my first outbreak. I also just started my period, so I’m not sure if minor body aces are because of my period. Where do body aces normally take place during a herpes outbreak? Are they aces or more like sore muscles?
I’ve read so much information about HSV and know that each person is different, I’m just
looking for any kind of closure.
Hi EQ13 –
The first signs of an outbreak are listed in detail under our herpes symptoms post, but not everyone experiences the same kinds of symptoms, like you mentioned, and some never experience any noticeable symptoms at all.
If it’s only been a week and a day since you were sexually active with the guy you were dating, a blood test is not likely to provide an accurate result, as it takes some time for your body to develop the antibodies for herpes that blood tests look for.
Your best bet is to wait for the results (the body aches you’re experiencing are very likely the result of your period), and then get tested again when the testing windows post suggests. Of course, if you start to notice any blisters or sores in advance of that date, you can go in and have the spot cultured as well.
Thanks for your questions!