Both oral and genital herpes provide similar physical symptoms – blisters and sores, a red rash, and pain at the infection site. Unfortunately, these and other herpes symptoms can mirror non-herpes medical conditions, ailments and illnesses. Because of this, you may wonder if you have contracted herpes, or if another disease or health problem is at work.
Doctors familiar with herpes and the fact that it can produce symptoms common to other conditions can help you determine exactly what is going on. Before you consult a physician, which is always the right move when you don’t understand what health hazard you have encountered, there are few questions you can ask yourself to help you narrow down the field of potential causes for your symptoms.
Are Your Symptoms Temporary or Permanent?
Do your signs of illness come and go? Do you experience a tingling sensation right before blisters appear, and then those blisters and other symptoms disappear after a short period of time? The herpes virus tends to last for anywhere from 3 to 14 days when genital herpes has been experienced. If you have a cold sore or another sign of oral herpes, a flareup usually has an 8 to 12 day duration. If your symptoms continue for longer than those periods of time, herpes may not be the issue.
Are Your Blisters Inside or Outside Your Mouth?
If you have blisters and sores appear on the outside of your mouth and around your lips, this could be a sign of the cold sores or so-called “fever blisters” which denote the presence of the herpes virus. If you experience similar sores and blisters on the inside of your mouth, these are probably canker sores. Canker sores are not symptomatic of herpes and will almost always heal themselves without treatment.
Do You Have a Cluster of Blisters, or Just a Few Which are Not Clustered?
Syphilis is a bacterial infection that can produce what looks to be the blisters associated with genital herpes. Syphilis responds very well to antibiotics, especially when the condition is treated as quickly as it is diagnosed. Genital herpes often produces groups of blisters, not the few spread-out, blister-like chancres which are telltale signs of syphilis.
Is There a Burning and Itching of the Vagina Accompanying Painful Urination or an Abnormal Vaginal Discharge?
These are common signs of a yeast infection. A woman may experience an abnormal, thick, gray or white discharge, and may have pain during intercourse. Coupled with the symptoms above, this is usually sign of a bacterial or yeast infection, and not herpes. Men who get a yeast infection will often have no symptoms, but sometimes, a rash or burning sensation in the penis after sex is a sign of a yeast infection.
Remember that herpes can be detected through some simple lab tests. PCR blood tests and cell cultures can determine the presence of the herpes virus. If your symptoms have you confused as to whether or not you have herpes or some other health problem, it always makes sense to contact your doctor. If your doctor is new to testing for herpes, she can refer you to an urologist or dermatologist that can give you the answers you are looking for.