The primary symptom of herpes is fluid-filled blisters on the skin. These blisters rupture and create open sores that can take weeks to heal.
A variety of other conditions such as: razor burn, yeast infection, scabies, genital warts, chlamydia, syphilis, impetigo, pimples or ingrown hairs can be mistaken for herpes bumps. So, how do you tell if little red blemishes are herpes bumps or something else? Read on to learn more.
Pimples and Ingrown Hairs vs. Herpes Bumps
Acne causes pustules that might look like a blister from oral herpes. Acne occurs on the face, neck, chest, back, or bumb; whereas oral herpes bumps are more localized at the lips, mouth, or nose.
Ingrown hairs are typically single blemishes that are filled with a whitish colored pus. Herpes bumps have clear fluid and occur in clusters. Multiple ingrown hairs can occur at once though, especially after shaving or waxing.
Pimples and ingrown hairs typically have a yellowish center whereas fluid inside herpes bumps are more clear.
Razor Burn vs. Herpes Bumps
Shaving can result in irritated skin, rashes, ingrown hairs, and pimples that can look similar to herpes bumps. Symptoms of razor burn will only occur after shaving, so keep track of when symptoms appear to help differentiate between razor burn and herpes.
Yeast Infection vs. Herpes Bumps
Yeast infections cause symptoms similar to herpes such as painful urination, itching, and rash. Yeast infections usually do not cause blistering or sores, but if they do the blisters can look similar to herpes.
Additional symptoms that help distinguish a yeast infection from herpes include:
- redness of the vulva and vagina
- thick white discharge (similar to cottage cheese) or thin yellow discharge
- pain or discomfort during sex.
Although yeast infections are more common in women, yeast infections in men occur too.
Scabies vs. Herpes Bumps
Scabies is caused by mites that burrow into the skin and lay eggs. Little red blistery bumps and rashes appear that can look a lot like herpes bumps. Although scabies can occur in the genital area, it is much more common on the hands, arms, and legs. Scabies usually lasts until it gets treated whereas herpes bumps will turn into sores and heal within a few weeks. Other distinguishing symptoms of scabies include more intense itching at night, and bumps that line up in a row.
Other STI's vs. Herpes Bumps
- Genital Warts (HPV) begin as tiny red or pink spots, but develop into cauliflower-like warts rather than sores. These warts can last for years when untreated compared to less than 2 weeks for herpes bumps.
- Primary Syphilis causes sores at the site of infection, which take 3 to 6 weeks to heal; herpes sores heal in less than 2 weeks. Herpes and syphilis are also distinguished by the pain associated with sores. Herpes bumps are painful and syphilis sores are not. A very important difference between syphilis and herpes is that syphilis is easily cured and there is no cure for herpes. If you have syphilis, get it treated right away.
Impetigo is a bacterial infection that causes pustules and sores. It mainly affects infants and children (particularly boys). Impetigo also can affect the mouth and nose area similar to herpes, but herpes bumps have clear fluid inside the blisters and the sores are more reddish. Sores from impetigo form yellowish crusts within a few days.
Think you may have herpes bumps, or you just aren't sure? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a diagnosis and treatment plan today.