How Does Herpes Look?


Herpes rashes are caused by a number of different viruses of the viral family Herpesviridae. They may appear on only one part of the body, as in cases of oral and genital herpes, or may be more widespread, as in chickenpox and shingles.

Close up of herpes on mouth.
Close up of herpes on mouth. (Image: apichsn/iStock/Getty Images)


In general, herpetic rashes appear as fluid-filled blisters on top of a red rash. These blisters eventually break open, releasing their fluid and crusting over.

Herpes healing.
Herpes healing. (Image: Olga Drabovich/iStock/Getty Images)


Herpes rashes may be painful or itchy. They are often accompanied by a feeling of burning or tingling in the area before the rash occurs.

Herpes can be itchy.
Herpes can be itchy. (Image: RosicaSabotanova/iStock/Getty Images)


Oral herpes generally occurs on the lips and surrounding parts of the face, while genital herpes can affect the genitals, anus, buttocks and thighs. Chicken pox can affect large parts of the body, while shingles occurs on only one side of the body, generally between the buttocks and the trunk but sometimes involving the head and face.

Close up of herpes on lips.
Close up of herpes on lips. (Image: apichsn/iStock/Getty Images)


The first oral and genital herpes rashes are generally the worst, although they may recur throughout an infected person's life. Chicken pox may recur years or decades after infection as shingles.

Chicken pox may recur.
Chicken pox may recur. (Image: Blaj Gabriel/iStock/Getty Images)


People who believe they have developed a herpetic rash should seek medical treatment. Antiviral drugs may be appropriate to control outbreaks.

Assorted pills.
Assorted pills. (Image: DanComaniciu/iStock/Getty Images)

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