Symptoms and Signs of Genital Herpes

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 8/24/2021

Doctor's Notes on Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is a common sexually transmitted viral infection (also referred to as a sexually transmitted disease, or STD). 

The initial outbreak of genital herpes may look and feel different from later characteristic flare-ups. Some people who become infected with the herpes simplex virus may not display any symptoms. Others may have a mild infection that goes unnoticed. Still others will develop a more severe illness including the typical skin lesions. Symptoms of genital herpes may include:

  • skin outbreak with blisters, and 
  • raised, reddened, usually painful bumps or blisters in the genital area. 

Symptoms other than the skin blisters will develop before the skin outbreak is noticed or may accompany the skin blisters, including: 

What Is the Treatment for Genital Herpes?

While there is no treatment that can cure genital herpes, antiviral medications can prevent or shorten outbreaks. There are currently three approved antiviral drugs to treat genital herpes, which are taken during the first outbreak and may be taken during subsequent outbreaks. 

In addition, some people benefit from daily suppressive therapy (i.e. daily use of antiviral medication) to reduce the frequency of outbreaks and reduce transmission to partners.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.