11:02 pm - 04/20/2006

Herpes - What does it look like?

I've been looking for info on this but can't find anything specific...

What exactly do genital herpes sores look like? And what sort of discharge is usually considered symptomatic?



I found 2 little red bumps yesterday, and have been having more discharge than normal. The bumps are on the side/perineal area tiny and just look like little healing scabs (like, say, if you picked a zit or something). There's nothing on the labia as far as I can tell. About 2 weeks ago, before my period, I had some slight (mostly external) itching and discharge and thought it might be BV, but because it was only a few days before my period, I hoped my period would flush out whatever was there. That didn't stop it - the discharge is thin and slightly yellowish, it smelled kinda "off" for a bit but doesn't really anymore. I still have slight external itching from time to time also (like, a few minutes at a time, and not often) - in the same place as the bumps are. I was plucking some of the hairs there for a while, so it's possible the bumps are due to that, but I'm going to get checked out anyway... because no place online will describe what herpes lesions or discharge look like, I'm getting a bit worried. I had BV last October and was hoping it's not that again either... but that itched a lot more.

BTW, I'm 21 and a virgin, have been taking Yasmin for about 10 months, got tested for STIs last summer and came out without any. However, I also have a history of reeeeally sensitive skin, so there's a chance it could be a totally random reaction to some irritant. Here's hoping.
moochar Mod Note21st-Apr-2006 04:19 am (UTC)
Hi there. Would you mind editing your post so that it does not include the word "clean" to describe someone who is STI-free? Using "clean" that way implies that people who have STIs are "dirty," and we prefer not to further that harmful stereotype.

For more information on this policy, you can read our guidelines here:
http://www.vaginapagina.com/faq.php?#WhyCantIUseClean

Thanks,
Char
for the VP Team
moochar@vaginapagina.com
contact_vp
_wembley_ 21st-Apr-2006 07:01 am (UTC)
Hi.
To the mods, I'm a 22 yo male medical student. I'm commenting to this post rather vicariously (through a friend's journal). Please let me know if I outstep my boundaries.

To Pent: When you say you're a virgin, have you ever had oral or anal sex? As HSV is an STI, you can't get it from a toilet seat (or anything like it). Intimate sexual contact is required, but it doesn't have to be penetration. Someone with a HSV-1 infection around their mouth (ie. cold sores) can transmit the virus through oral sex.
You could also transfer it to yourself (cold sores around the mouth, and masturbation).

It sounds a bit like BV or even a yeast infection. It could definitely just be an irritant issue.

You're doing the best thing; going to the Doctor so that they're able to do some tests. Good luck!

pentameterpunk 21st-Apr-2006 07:13 am (UTC)
No oral, no anal... I don't even have time for a social life, let alone a sex life. And I don't really have a history of cold sores around the mouth... and I think that would have come out in the testing if I'd had it last year, since I don't think I've even swapped spit with anyone new in that time.

At this point, it's probably either BV or an irritant thing (I may have to add "scented pantiliners" to my list of things never to use), because I don't smell any yeastiness.

Thanks.
rockstarbob 21st-Apr-2006 08:23 am (UTC)
I've actually been working on a piece about herpes for a new resource we'll be unveiling soon along with a revamped vp.com, so here's an excerpt and some handy links:

HSV-2, or "genital herpes," usually begins as a group of small red bumps that blister in the genital area. Some people report noticing itching or discomfort before the bumps appear. The blisters start to ulcerate or break after a few days, and finally yellow crusts are formed as they dry up. Eventually they will become red spots that slowly fade away. No scars form. The whole process usually takes about 10-14 days.

What are the symptoms of HSV-2?
Symptoms can vary greatly from one outbreak to the next, and even from person to person. Some people will notice small sores; others will have more "classic" blister-like lesions that crust over. In recurrent herpes, this process usually takes less than half the time a first episode takes.

Furthermore, many people can have very subtle forms of recurrent herpes that can heal up in a matter of days. These can often be mistaken for other things, such as insect bites, cuts, abrasions, yeast, jock itch, hemorrhoids, etc. These symptoms can be found not only on the vulva, but near the anus, on the thigh, on the buttocks--anywhere in/around the genital area.

Symptoms may include:
* painful and/or itchy blisters, bumps or ulcerations on the vulva, cervix, vagina, urethra, anus, buttocks or thighs (these bumps contain a large number of viral particles and are therefore very contagious)
* fever
* headache
* muscle aches and pains in the legs, back and/or neck
* fatigue
* swollen lymph nodes in the groin (see diagram here--NSFW)
* pain with urination
* vaginal discharge
* feeling pressure or discomfort in the abdomen/stomach

What does HSV-2 look like?
The Public Health Agency of Canada hosts this slide show (NSFW) of photos of HSV-2 outbreaks on various women's vulvas. The images show how different symptoms can look for different people.

Judging from your history, however, it doesn't seem very likely that you'd ahve herpes. Although sometimes a doctor can tell by just looking (especially if symptoms are particularly "classic"), there are really only two ways to find out for sure:

1. Go to a doctor/gynecologist during an outbreak and have a culture taken for lab analysis (this is usually best when the sores are in their "wet" stage; if they are too dry, no sample can be retrieved).

2. Have a blood test done that can determine if you carry HSV-1 or HSV-2 (note: the test cannot determine when you contracted the virus, however, or whether or not you're currently having an active outbreak).

Hope this helps!
rockstarbob 21st-Apr-2006 08:27 am (UTC)
P.S. You may want to check out the other herpes tags in the community, along with the general "bumps/cysts" tags:

http://community.livejournal.com/vaginapagina/tag/herpes
http://community.livejournal.com/vaginapagina/tag/bumps-and-cysts

Good luck!
elmofrog 21st-Apr-2006 02:49 pm (UTC)
That slide show was really helpful! Thanks :)
photobooth15501 21st-Apr-2006 03:59 pm (UTC)
It's unlikely but possible, HSV is passed through skin to skin contact. But sexual activity is definitely a requirement.
no_carrot_juice 21st-Apr-2006 12:41 pm (UTC)
I actually have herpes. And found out last year by my doctor that you can actually be born with it (say if your mother has it and had an outbreak during delivery) and you may never know you have herpes if it remains dorment or until an outbreak occurs.
Secondly, when the doc's run a blood test for genital herpes it would be inclusive if you have ever had a cold sore, unless you actually have an outbreak (is what I was told when I wanted to get tested).
From my experience, it doesn't seem like that's what your experiencing. But Good Luck either way.
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