Stages of Herpes

There are two types of herpes that can affect the oral cavity or genitals, but these infections have similar outbreak stages. Knowing the warning signs of an outbreak can help you determine when to avoid the uncomfortable side effects of an outbreak.

Herpes is an infection of the herpes simlex virus. This can create two types of infections, oral or genital herpes. In most cases oral herpes is caused by HSV-1 while genital herpes is caused by HSV-2, though either virus type can affect these parts of the body equally. Oral herpes causes blisters to appear around the mouth while genital herpes causes similar blisters to appear around the buttocks or genitals.

Stages of Oral Herpes

Stage

Description

Stage 1

Prodrome

When the virus comes in contact with the skin it will develop a tightening or tingling sensation as the skin starts to redden. After 1-2 days the skin can start to become irritated or itchy, and some develop pain in the affected area.

Stage 2

Inflammation and Swelling

The prodrome stage often goes undetected, so many fail to get the infection treated early enough to prevent an outbreak. If the outbreak is not treated the area will begin to become inflamed and swollen, though this is often not visible.

Stage 3

Blisters Form

The swollen area will begin to develop small, red bumps that slowly begin to fill with fluid, forming blisters. These blisters can be red, white or clear and may form in clusters or on their own. They will be very sensitive and will usually remain in place for around 2 days.

Stage 4

Ulceration

At this point the blisters will burst and begin to ooze, causing wet ulcers to form. These wet blisters are red, often resembling a small cut and will be very sensitive. This is often the most painful part of a herpes outbreak, but it usually only lasts one day.

Stage 5

Crust or Scab

The sores will begin to heal with wet blisters developing a crust over the top that will harden into a scab. Underneath this scab new skin will form over 2-3 days, causing pain, itchiness or dryness. As the skin grows in the scab will crack and bleed.

Stage 6

Complete Healing

Over the course of a few days the scab on a herpes blister will fall off and leave fresh, virus-free skin underneath. You can develop a scar if you pull the scab off before the wound has had a chance to heal. Ointment can be used to fade this discoloration if this occurs.

Stages of Genital Herpes

It is important to note that genital herpes affects everyone differently. You may even experience different symptoms or a different severity of your symptoms from outbreak to outbreak. In some cases blisters may not even appear during an outbreak. The type of symptoms you experience will depend on how your immune system reacts to the virus. You will need to learn about the kind of symptoms you can expect so you can learn how to protect yourself and your partners when outbreaks occur.

Stage

Description

Stage 1

Prodrome

This stage refers to the point where the virus is active in the skin and move toward the surface of the skin to cause an outbreak.

You are contagious to others at this point. It can cause a vaginal discharge, pain down the buttocks and legs, pain when urinating and a tingling or itching in the affected area. You will also experience viral shedding during this point which means the skin cells in this area will contain the herpes simplex virus that can be spread to others. This can last for up to a week before symptoms begin to appear, which is why many people spread the disease to others without realizing it.

Stage 2

Redness in the Skin

The skin affected by the virus will turn red and start to become very sensitive. The areas where the outbreak is occurring may also rise up as the virus pushes its way to the surface. This stage will last for 1-4 days in most cases and you are highly contagious at this point.

Stage 3

Blisters Form

This is the first point where blisters begin to appear on the skin. You may notice single lesions or clusters of blisters around the genitals. As the blisters grow they will fill with a fluid that contains high amounts of the virus. This stage lasts for around 2-6 days and can be very painful. You will need to wear loose comfort and stop activities that irritate the affected skin during this time.

Stage 4

Lesion

As the lesions continue to grow the virus will reach its peak, making your condition highly contagious. The blisters will then open and release this liquid, so you will need to work constantly to make sure this area is kept dry and clean.

It may be painful to sit, shower or urinate and you will need to wear gentle cotton undergarments to minimize discomfort. You should not have any sexual contact during this time and only touch the area when necessary. The blisters can continue to open for 1-4 days.

Stage 5

Herpes Scab

When the blisters have finished draining the sores will begin to dry out and develop a scab. Some do not develop scabs but simply see a reduction in the appearance of the sore until it is no longer visible. Scabs can remain in place for several days and you should avoid touching or picking at them during this time because this can lead to scarring.

Stage 6

Complete Healing

When the scab falls off or the blister has faded the skin has healed. It may appear red but as your recovery continues this will fade. Full heal time can last 3-7 days so you should avoid intercourse throughout this time to avoid spreading the infection.

Recommended:

Dark Spots on Face

Dark spots on face are usually a sign of skin damage. Applying remedies that allow the skin to regenerate will help these marks fade more quickly. If the dark skin is persistent you can speak to your doctor.


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