/ Herpes
What Does Herpes Look Like?

What Does Herpes Look Like?

You’ve probably heard about herpes, but would you recognize it if you saw it? The scary thing is that many people carry the herpes virus and don’t display any symptoms. They might not even know they have herpes, making it nearly impossible to prevent spreading it. In other cases herpes is symptomatic and can be identified if you know what you're looking for. So, what is herpes, and what does herpes look like? Let’s take a closer look, read on to learn more about herpes.

What is herpes?

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two different types of herpes: Type 1 is known as oral herpes and typically affects the mouth. Type 2 is known as genital herpes and typically affects the genitals or rectum.

What does herpes look like?

Herpes may consist of blisters that start as small, shallow, gray ulcers on a red base and then become crusted, scabbed, dry, and yellow. Sores may appear on the lips, gums, nose, the front of the tongue, cheeks, throat, roof of the mouth, fingers, chin, neck and genitals.

Other herpes symptoms

Apart from the blisters, other symptoms that usually start about 2-12 days after getting the infection and last, on average, 7-10 days may include:

  • Pain, itching, burning, or tingling before the appearance of a sore
  • Bleeding, swollen, red gums
  • Painful, swollen neck lymph nodes
  • A grayish coating on the tonsils and a sore throat with shallow ulcers

Herpes treatment

Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes. Once you have the herpes virus, you’ll always have it. Luckily, there are some options for treating the symptoms of outbreaks. Some herpes treatments include:

Antiviral drugs that may come as pills, creams, or intravenously can help speed up the healing process, such as:

-Acyclovir (Xerese, Zovirax)
-Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
-Famciclovir (Famvir)
-Penciclovir (Denavir)

Home remedies and alternative medicine such as:

  • Cold sore ointments like Docosanol (Abreva) may shorten outbreaks by up to a day
  • Zinc oxide cream or a lip balm with sunblock to protect your lips
  • Applying a cool compress (such as a cold, wet washcloth) to reduce redness, help remove crusting, and promote healing
  • Over the counter products like pain relievers, creams with lidocaine or benzocaine, or remedies that contain a drying agent like alcohol may speed healing
  • Drinking plenty of fluids
  • Lysine which is an amino acid supplement that’s available as a pill or a cream
  • Propolis which is synthetic beeswax that’s available as a 3% ointment that may shorten the duration of symptoms
  • Cream that combines rhubarb and sage may be as effective as acyclovir (Zovirax) cream
  • Reducing stress, since stress can cause or worsen symptoms
  • Aloe vera gel can soothe the skin and contains anti-inflammatory properties

Think you may be experiencing a herpes outbreak? Book an appointment with a PlushCare physician and get a prescription today.

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Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a freelance writer in the Midwest who writes about a variety of topics but especially enjoys educating people about their health and the health of their pets.

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