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What Could be Mistaken for Herpes?

Genital Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection that often presents without symptoms, or with very mild symptoms that may be mistaken for something else. This guide will help you to determine if you do have Genital Herpes or one of a number of conditions where symptoms mimic Herpes.

So, what might sores that look like Herpes symptoms but are not be? Irritation from shaving, redness, ingrown hairs and thrush symptoms can all be mistaken for Herpes as the sores can look very similar to the small red bumps and ulcers Herpes causes. STD testing is the most reliable way of finding out if you have herpes.

Keep reading to find out what other STIs can be mistaken for herpes and how you can get tested.

What Might you be Mistaking for Herpes?

Some people with Genital Herpes only develop mild symptoms that might be mistaken for either a different STI or other health concerns. These may include:

A Different STI

You may be mistaking Genital Herpes for another STI such as Syphilis or Genital Warts. Both cause visible sores in the genital area that may be itchy, however Syphilis is not usually painful, and Genital Warts may cause other symptoms such as bleeding from the genitals and a change or distorion to your usual urinal flow.

Irritation Caused by Shaving

The irritation you’re experiencing may not mean that you have Genital Herpes. Shaving of the genital area often causes irritation, redness and small bumps if not done correctly. It may also cause ingrown hairs.

Ingrown Hairs

Ingrown hairs are often caused by shaving, but can occur naturally. If you have ingrown hair, you may notice small, tender red bumps and blisters. Unlike Genital Herpes, however, ingrown hairs typically develop as isolated bumps. Genital Herpes usually develops in clusters, although can appear as a single lesion.

Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)

Bacterial Vaginosis is an imbalance of the normal bacteria in the vagina. It is not considered to be a sexually transmitted infection, but is more common in sexually active women. Like Genital Herpes, BV often doesn’t have any symptoms, however should symptoms arise, you might experience discharge, itching and discomfort, a burning sensation and a fish-like odour.

Yeast Infections (Thrush)

75% of women will experience thrush in their lifetime and may mistake it for Genital Herpes. Similar symptoms include vaginal discharge, irritation, burning, redness and soreness. However, it is unlikely that sores and blisters will appear with thrush.

How to be Sure if it’s Herpes

Symptoms of Herpes and the issues we listed above can be pretty similar, but it’s hard to know for definite what’s causing your discomfort. The biggest problem with mistaking Genital Herpes for something else is that you will often have no cause to seek treatment, and may inadvertently pass it on to sexual partners.

What is Genital Herpes

Genital Herpes (caused by HSV-2 in the majority of cases) is a sexually transmitted infection that is passed on through vaginal, anal and oral sex. Herpes has no cure and will remain in the body for a lifetime, however will remain dormant between outbreaks. Genital Herpes usually affects the skin around the genitals causing sores and blisters. The infection may be irritating and sometimes painful, but usually does not lead to serious health problems.

Symptoms of Herpes

Many people with Genital Herpes don’t know that they have it; usually only one in three people will develop symptoms. However, some may develop mild symptoms that could be mistaken for something else. Should symptoms present, they will develop between two and twelve days post-exposure and may include:

  • Discomfort, pain and itching
  • Small red bumps or white blisters
  • Ulcers
  • Scabs
  • Tingling, or burning around your genitals
  • Unusual vagina discharge
  • Pain when you pee

The only way to know for sure is to get tested for STIs. It is vitally important to get checked for STIs as many will cause severe health complications if left untreated. Check out Your Sexual Health’s range of STI tests that can be taken in the privacy of your own home.