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Symptoms of Herpes & Outbreak Stages

Herpes symptoms usually develop, go through a cycle and then heal completely. There is typically no further symptoms until the virus is activated again in the future.

Some people with genital herpes do experience itching and tingling without experiencing an actual outbreak. This is sometimes called the prodrome or “warning symptoms”.

The typical cycle of a herpes outbreak may include:

Redness and Inflammation

Swelling, tenderness, burning and redness may appear before the actual outbreak and may include itching and sensitivity. For some people, the inflammation may not progress past this stage or form into blisters.

Blisters, Bumps or Tiny “Tears”

This could be one or several small fluid filled lesions, tiny red bumps or a rash that may resemble small fissures (little paper-like cuts), especially near the anus.


When the covering layer of skin on the blister breaks it can form a small, round, wet looking ulcer which may leak a clear to milky colored fluid.

Crusting or Scabbing

The sores will normally begin to dry and crust over forming a scab. This is the beginning of the healing process. The virus may still be present during this time and should be considered contagious until the ulcer has completely healed.

The scab will usually fall off naturally and of its own accord once the skin has been repaired underneath. In some cases, particularly where this a lot of moisture, this crusting stage may not eventuate and the wound may heal naturally without forming a scab.


New skin will form which may look slightly red or silver before completely healing. The virus now retreats back inside the body where it lies dormant and causes no harm.

Healing of the skin does not normally leave scarring. If there is a mark remaining where the outbreak has been try applying a cream, ointment or essential to help repair and restore the skin, such as a quality moisturizer, rose hip, vitamin e or aloe vera.

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