Many people with the genital herpes virus experience no visible symptoms. For those that do, the most noticeable symptoms of genital herpes come with the first outbreak (also known as first episode genital herpes).
Of particular relevance to individuals experiencing recurrent episodes of genital herpes.
The key early warning signs that an outbreak of herpes may occur include:
The first eruption, typically appears between 3 to 7 days after the initial infection. The symptoms occur in stages, the first being an uncomfortable, prickly sensation felt on the skin. Sores (small red bumps) can develop.
These herpes sores (lesions) may then turn into small fluid blisters which form a few hours to a couple of days after these sensations are first experienced. After a period of about 2 to 3 weeks the blisters may form small ulcers: the herpes blisters burst leaving a sore which can take 2 to 4 weeks to heal. The herpes blisters and ulcers are about 1-3mm in size and are typically found in groups or clusters around the genital area. The lymph glands of the groin may also become swollen and tender, indicative of the body fighting the infection.
In men, the herpes blisters and ulcers can develop on and around the penis. In women herpes sores can develop both outside and inside the vagina. The presence of herpes sores within the vagina can only be confirmed through medical examination by a doctor. However, vaginal discharge, a symptom of genital herpes in women would indicate that herpes sores may be present within the vagina. In both sexes, herpes blisters and ulcers can also develop in and around the anus. In both sexes, when urinating, pain may be experienced if the urine comes into contact with the herpes sores.
The strength of symptoms can vary between individuals.
Many individuals may display few genital herpes symptoms.
In others, the symptoms can be quite painful and pronounced. Although the herpes virus can be transmitted when no symptoms are present, generally the more pronounced the symptoms shown, the more infectious the virus is at that time.
Treatments for genital herpes are more effective shortly after the initial outbreak. For this reason, and whilst not requiring emergency treatment, individuals experiencing an outbreak of genital herpes should consult their doctor as soon as possible.