Symptoms of Genital Herpes
Symptoms of genital herpes can vary. Many individuals infected have few, if any, noticeable symptoms.
In people who do have symptoms, the symptoms start 2 to 20 days after exposure to someone with HSV infection. Symptoms may last for several weeks.
The first episode of genital herpes is usually worse than subsequent outbreaks. The following symptoms may occur during the first episode of herpes:
- Painful bumps or blisters that break open and form ulcers in the genital area
- Itching, tingling, or burning sensation of the skin
- Swollen, tender glands (lymph nodes) around the genital area
- General flu-like symptoms, including muscle aches
- Vaginal discharge
- Painful urination
Following the primary infection, HSV-2 infects nerve cells, which allows the virus to remain indefinitely in a dormant state within the body. Sporadic reactivation of the virus can occur resulting in a recurrence of lesions on the genitalia. In fact, most infected persons with genital herpes have five to eight outbreaks per year, but not everyone has recurrent symptoms. As time goes on, the number of outbreaks usually decreases.
Sores typically come back near the site of the first infection. Usually, as the outbreaks recur, there are fewer sores and they heal faster and are less painful.
Recurrent outbreaks of herpes can be triggered by illness, stress, fatigue, menstruation, sunburn, or sexual intercourse.