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It is very important to know the clinical signs and symptoms of genital herpes to prevent it from infecting others. The classic sign of herpes is a lesion or sore that appears on sexually exposed areas or in the internal canal of the vagina near the cervix. So what does genital herpes look like? Here are some descriptions.

After sexual activity or any membrane to membrane contact with body fluids, the herpes virus travels inside the body through skin cells and multiplies. This is known as the incubation period which may last for 3 to 7 days after contact with the virus. After a week, the infected skin cells become inflamed then itching would take place. An infected person would then notice the eruptions of small fluid filled blisters at the area known as blisters. Blisters can also be seen as tiny red bumps that resembles fissures especially near the anal area. Blisters can be usually seen around and inside the vaginal area or even at the cervix for women, while blisters are seen on the scrotum and penis for men.

While the skin has painful blisters, the skin would soon become severely infected and would soon have skin breaks with clear to purulent discharges, this is known as ulcers. The skin breaks and the ulcers become more painful. Blisters and ulcerations would last from 7 to 14 days. Herpes is very contagious during this time. A person during this stage is strongly advised to refrain from any sexual activity or bodily contact which involves the membranes. Frequent hand washing is advised to minimize transfer of virus through blister to hand to membrane contact.

However, after 2 weeks, healing takes place. Healing occurs when the virus has completed its replication. The virus goes internal through the nerve endings and finally invades the spinal cord where it will lie dormant until recurrence. Though the person will not have classic symptoms of the disease, still the person is at risk for a recurrence.

Meanwhile, during the healing phase of the disease, the skin regenerates new squamous cells wherein it will replace the ulcerations without any sign of scarring. The new skin would be slightly reddish but will no longer have the herpes virus inside the skin cells. During this time, the person is no longer contagious and can resume daily activity.

The skin proves to be an important illustration on what does genital herpes look like. The skin undergoes a lot of changes before it reaches the healing stage. Thus one should be vigilant at identifying any of these classic signs and symptoms.


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