Herpes results from infection with the herpes simplex vi. (HSV). It causes sores or blisters in or around the mouth or genitals, alongside other symptoms.

What is genital herpes?

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted infection (STI), with roughly 572,000 new infections developing each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

However, a person with genital herpes might not have symptoms or have only mild symptoms. Most people may not know they have it. Approximately 87.4% of 14-49 year-olds who have genital herpes do not have a clinical diagnosis.

The characteristic symptoms of genital herpes are small blistering lesions, also called cold sores when on the face, usually found around the genitals, rectum, or mouth. The fluid-filled blisters burst and then turn into small, painful sores that can last for two-to-four weeks after they break open.

Herpes symptoms

People who develop symptoms of herpes may first experience tingling, itching, or burning, then notice sores or blisters forming around the mouth or genitals.

Symptoms tend to develop 2–20 days after exposure to the vir.

Oral herpes symptoms

Oral herpes causes blisters, sometimes called fever sores or cold sores, to develop in or around the lips and mouth.

Sometimes these blisters form elsewhere on the face or tongue, and more rarely on other areas of skin.

The sores usually last 2–3 weeks at a time before clearing up.

Genital herpes symptoms

These sores tend to develop on the penis, around or inside the vagina, on the buttocks, or on the anus, though they can form on other areas of skin.

Herpes can also cause pain when urinating, and changes in vaginal discharge.

The first time a person develops the sores, they may last 2–6 weeks before clearing up.

Soon after this initial outbreak, symptoms may recur frequently. Over time, outbreaks may occur less often and the symptoms typically become less severe.

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