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What Does a Herpes Rash Look Like?

A herpes rash looks like a cluster of small, fluid-filled blisters near the mouth or genitals. The location of the rash depends on which type of herpes virus you have. The rashes might develop repeatedly, but you can take medications to help prevent or shorten outbreaks. Many people who are infected with the have herpes virus never develop a rash or any other symptoms of an infection.

Oral Herpes Rash

Most oral herpes rashes are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). The virus can lead to blisters or rashes that develop primarily on and around the lips (known as cold sores) but can also appear on the gums, mouth, or throat.

When an oral herpes outbreak occurs, small, red blisters filled with a clear, yellowish fluid appear. Sometimes, these spots merge together and form a larger blister. When the blisters break, the fluid oozes out and leaves behind an open, painful sore that crusts over once it dries. It takes about two weeks for most cold sores to develop, break, and then heal.

Genital Herpes Rash

Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) is the cause of most genital herpes. These rashes occur in the genital area, which can include the labia, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, scrotum, thighs, or buttocks.

The rash appears as small, painful blisters with clear or yellowish fluid inside. These sores eventually break. The shallow sores crust over and heal in about a week or so.

Herpes Rash Treatments

Although herpes cannot be cured, it can be managed to prevent rashes and sores. Many people with herpes do not develop clinical signs, though it’s still possible to spread the infection even when no symptoms are present. If you experience repeated or severe outbreaks, your healthcare provider might prescribe antiviral medications that can help shorten outbreaks or make them less frequent.

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