What are the Different Herpes Symptoms?

D. Jeffress

Herpes is a highly infectious disease caused by the herpes simplex viruses. The disease most often manifests itself on a person's mouth or genitals, in the form of itchy bumps, open sores, and blisters. Besides the noticeable and often painful blisters and lesions, herpes symptoms may include swollen lymph nodes, excessive tiredness, muscle aches, and difficult urination. There is currently no vaccination against the herpes simplex virus, and there is no known cure for afflicted persons, though medication can be prescribed by qualified physicians to relieve herpes symptoms.

Herpes simplex 1 causes sores to form on the lips and area around the mouth.
Herpes simplex 1 causes sores to form on the lips and area around the mouth.

The herpes virus takes two main forms, HS1 and HS2. People who contract HS1 frequently suffer from herpes outbreaks on or near their mouths. The severity of HS1 symptoms vary from person to person, though many people experience painful sores on the lips and the insides of the mouth, commonly called cold sores or fever blisters. In addition to the appearance of these sores, oral herpes symptoms may include swollen glands in the throat, irritated gums, fever, and muscle aches. Because herpes weakens the immune system, many people with the virus become more susceptible to catching colds.

One oral herpes symptom is swollen glands in the throat.
One oral herpes symptom is swollen glands in the throat.

HS2 refers to genital herpes, which can lead to painful lesions inside, on, and around a person's genitals. People with HS2 may experience painful urination and unusual discharge from their sexual organs. The surrounding skin may become irritated and itchy, and lymph nodes in the groin can swell. Additional physiological symptoms can be similar to HS1 symptoms, including fatigue and muscle ache. Genital herpes can be noticeable for weeks, and outbreaks can recur frequently.

Several prescription and over the counter medications can alleviate herpes symptoms. Topical creams for cold sores and genital herpes are available at most pharmacies and drug stores. Doctors can prescribe more powerful topical anesthetics, or pills and intravenous antiviral medicine for severe cases. Topical medications are generally used only hen a person has an outbreak, but pills and other medicines might be prescribed for daily use, whether or not a person is experiencing symptoms.

A person who recognizes herpes symptoms should consult a doctor before beginning treatment. A knowledgeable doctor can perform a clinical diagnosis to confirm herpes, and prescribe treatment accordingly. People who employ the appropriate treatments often enjoy significant stretches of time without outbreaks, and in some cases, physical symptoms go away completely. Since herpes can be spread to other people, even when symptoms are not noticeable, it is important to follow doctors' orders.

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Discussion Comments


I remember having a nurse come talk to our health class about this subject. She gave some good information about the symptoms of genital herpes but there wasn't enough time spent on basic prevention techniques.

Considering that this is a life long issue once contracted I think the graphic approach used to shock you is not enough. Saying 'abstain' is very unrealistic, leaving youngsters ignorant on how to protect themselves.


@Potterspop - I am sorry to hear that your daughter is having a hard time at school. At least I can reassure you with some good news. Herpes 1 (which causes mouth and facial sores) is not an STD.

Sometimes herpes 2 (responsible for genital sores) can be at work in the mouth area, but that's rare and not relevant in this case.

I recommend you speak to someone at the school and see if they can educate the children about this subject. (Presuming they are of the right age to hear it of course.)

This is something they are going to encounter in their lives and knowledge of the symptoms of herpes, plus some tips on prevention is essential.


My daughter just came home from school in tears because some kids had told her the cold sores in her mouth are because she had sexual contact with someone.

I told her this was complete garbage and tried to explain a little about the differences. This article helped me understand the topic but I have a question.

Are all types of herpes considered to be STD related, or just those affecting the genitals? I want to get her some medical treatment, as the sooner they clear up the easier her life is going to be. But I'm worried the doctor will think the same thing as those nasty children.

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