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Herpes Rash

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What is a Herpes Rash?

writtenByWritten by: Ryan Quinn
Ryan Quinn

Ryan Quinn

Ryan has a background in geochemical research and enjoys writing on technical subjects like health and science. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT and can be found recreating in the local mountains.

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December 10, 2020 Read Time - 3 minutes

A herpes rash is another term for cold sores, or genital sores; it is not the same as a pimple, ingrown hair, dermatitis, or other conditions that cause a rash.

With a herpes rash, the herpes simplex virus (HSV) rises to the surface of the skin to reproduce through a process called viral shedding. During shedding, HSV causes redness and blisters to form on the skin.

Herpes outbreaks around the mouth or nose are most likely oral herpes (HSV-1) and are commonly called cold sores.

Genital herpes (HSV-2) generally causes outbreaks of similar sores on the genitals.

Clusters of blisters from both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can have a rash-like appearance that look similar to other rashes e.g. dermatitis, jock itch, and other sexually transmitted infections.

Read on to learn the differences between a herpes rash and other conditions with similar symptoms.

Is it a Herpes Rash or Something Else?

Blisters from herpes frequently form in clusters or groups, which can be different from other rashes that form bumps or blisters in random or other patterns.

  • Dermatitis vs. Herpes Rash
    Dermatitis is a condition of inflamed skin. It can cause red, itchy, flaky skin which can look like sores. Blisters from dermatitis are unlikely to be preceded by tingling sensations, which occurs during the first stage of herpes
  • Jock itch vs. Herpes Rash
    Jock itch is a fungal infection that produces a red, scaly, flaky rash, with blisters (more common among men, but women can get jock itch too).

The blisters from jock itch often form at the edge of the rash, whereas blisters on a herpes rash form throughout the affected area. A herpes rash usually occurs on the penis whereas jock itch usually occurs around the genitals.

Blisters on a herpes rash also crust over when the sores heal, whereas blisters from jock itch do not.

Other conditions form bumps and blisters that can also be mistaken for herpes.

Check out Herpes Bumps for more information on similar conditions.

Treating a Herpes Rash

Unfortunately there is no cure for herpes, but there are medications that can be used to help a herpes rash heal more quickly. Doctors will typically prescribe antiviral medications that help relieve symptoms of a herpes rash. The most common prescriptions for herpes are:

  • Acyclovir (Zovirax)
  • Famciclovir (Famvir)
  • Valacyclovir (Valtrex)
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There are also various home remedies for herpes that can help with a herpes rash such as:

  • Painkillers
  • Icing
  • Rest
  • Propolis

Do You Have a Herpes Rash?

If you think you have a herpes rash it is important to talk to a doctor for a diagnosis. A swab test can be done if there are current blisters, or a blood test if there are not (false-positives and false-negatives are possible with blood tests for herpes).

If you are diagnosed, a doctor can prescribe medication to help you heal faster.

Book an appointment now with a top U.S. doctor at PlushCare today and get a prescription online.

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