Genital herpes is an STI (sexually transmitted infection) that usually occurs without symptoms, but in some cases, mild symptoms which occur are often mistaken for another condition.
What is genital herpes?
Genital herpes results from HSV-2 infection in most cases. It is an STI transmitted through oral, anal and genital sex. Herpes is incurable and can remain in the body for a lifetime. However, the virus remains dormant with period outbreaks.
This STI usually affects the skin around the genital area, resulting in blisters and sores. It can cause pain and irritation but does not often result in serious health issues.
Symptoms of herpes
Most people infected with genital herpes remain unaware of the infection. Only about one in three infected people develop symptoms, and in some people, the symptoms are mild, easily mistaken for other conditions.
When symptoms are present, they occur 2 – 12 days after exposure to the virus and may include the following.
- White blisters or small red bumps
- Pain while urinating
- Itching, pain and discomfort
- Burning or tingling around the genitals
- Unusual vaginal discharge
As you read on, you’ll get information to help determine if you have herpes or any common condition with symptoms similar to herpes infection.
What conditions can you mistake for genital herpes?
In some cases, people infected with herpes develop only mild symptoms, which are easy to mistake for a different STI or other health conditions. These conditions include:
- A different STI
Syphilis and genital warts present symptoms similar to genital herpes symptoms. This makes mistaking these STIs for genital herpes easy. These STIs cause visible and itchy sores in the genitals, but syphilis sores are painless. Genital warts may also cause bleeding from the genitals and distortion or change in urinal flow.
- Irritation resulting from shaving
Irritation in the genital area is a common herpes symptom, but you may not have genital herpes if you experience irritation. Shaving your genital area often results in redness, small bumps and irritation when done incorrectly. This may also lead to having ingrown hairs.
- Ingrown hairs
Shaving is a common cause of ingrown hairs, but it can also occur naturally. You may have blisters and small, tender red bumps with ingrown hairs. Ingrown hairs usually cause isolated bumps, but bumps from genital herpes occur in clusters, although the bumps may develop as one lesion.
- Bacterial vaginosis (BV)
Bacterial vaginosis results from an imbalance in the normal vaginal bacteria. BV is not an STI, but it is more common in sexually active women. BV does not present symptoms like genital herpes. However, when symptoms are present, they occur as itching, discomfort, discharge, fish-like odour and burning sensation.
- Yeast infection (thrush)
About 75% of women will experience a yeast infection in their lifetime, and they usually mistake it for genital herpes. The yeast infection symptoms include soreness, redness, vaginal discharge and irritation. However, blisters and sores are less likely to appear from a yeast infection.
How to know if you have herpes
The symptoms from the condition above and herpes symptoms are quite similar, making identifying the exact cause of your discomfort difficult. The major issue with mistaking it for another condition is that you may not get the treatment needed and can transmit the infection to your partner.
The sure way to know if you have herpes like other STIs is to get STI testing. Checking for STIs is important because they can lead to health complications when left untreated. You can get genital herpes testing in London, including other STI tests at here. Call 020 3475 1653 to schedule an STI testing appointment.