Genital herpes symptoms

Highly contagious, genital herpes is caused by a type of the herpes simplex virus (HSV) that enters your body through small breaks in your skin or mucous membranes. Most people with HSV never know they have it, because they have no signs or symptoms or the signs and symptoms are so mild they go unnoticed.

When signs and symptoms are noticeable, the first episode is generally the worst. Some people never have a second episode. Others, however, can have recurrent episodes for decades.

When present, genital herpes signs and symptoms may include:

  • Small red bumps, blisters (vesicles) or open sores (ulcers) in the genital, anal and nearby areas
  • Pain or itching around the genital area, buttocks and inner thighs

The initial symptom of genital herpes usually is pain or itching, beginning within a few weeks after exposure to an infected sexual partner. After several days, small red bumps may appear. They then rupture, becoming ulcers that ooze or bleed. Eventually, scabs form and the ulcers heal.

In women, sores can erupt in the vaginal area, external genitals, buttocks, anus or cervix. In men, sores can appear on the penis, scrotum, buttocks, anus or thighs, or inside the tube from the bladder through the penis (urethra).

Ulcers can make urination painful. You may also have pain and tenderness in your genital area until the infection clears. During an initial episode, you may have flu-like signs and symptoms, such as headache, muscle aches and fever, as well as swollen lymph nodes in your groin.

In some cases, the infection can be active and contagious even when sores aren't present.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection and genital warts symptoms

HPV infection is one of the most common types of STIs. Some forms put women at high risk of cervical cancer. Other forms cause genital warts. HPV usually has no signs or symptoms. The signs and symptoms of genital warts include:

  • Small, flesh-colored or gray swellings in your genital area
  • Several warts close together that take on a cauliflower shape
  • Itching or discomfort in your genital area
  • Bleeding with intercourse

Often, however, genital warts cause no symptoms. Genital warts may be as small as 1 millimeter in diameter or may multiply into large clusters.

In women, genital warts can grow on the vulva, the walls of the vagina, the area between the external genitals and the anus, and the cervix. In men, they may occur on the tip or shaft of the penis, the scrotum, or the anus. Genital warts can also develop in the mouth or throat of a person who has had oral sex with an infected person.

Hepatitis symptoms

Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C are all contagious viral infections that affect your liver. Hepatitis B and C are the most serious of the three, but each can cause your liver to become inflamed.

Some people never develop signs or symptoms. But for those who do, signs and symptoms may occur after several weeks and may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain or discomfort, especially in the area of your liver on your right side beneath your lower ribs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Dark urine
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Itching
  • Yellowing of your skin and the whites of your eyes (jaundice)

Syphilis symptoms

Syphilis is a bacterial infection. The disease affects your genitals, skin and mucous membranes, but it can also involve many other parts of your body, including your brain and your heart.

The signs and symptoms of syphilis may occur in four stages — primary, secondary, latent and tertiary. There's also a condition known as congenital syphilis, which occurs when a pregnant woman with syphilis passes the disease to her unborn infant. Congenital syphilis can be disabling, even life-threatening, so it's important for a pregnant woman with syphilis to be treated.

Primary syphilis

The first sign of syphilis, which may occur from 10 days to three months after exposure, may be a small, painless sore (chancre) on the part of your body where the infection was transmitted, usually your genitals, rectum, tongue or lips. A single chancre is typical, but there may be multiple sores.

The sore typically heals without treatment, but the underlying disease remains and may reappear in the second (secondary) or third (tertiary) stage.

Secondary syphilis

Signs and symptoms of secondary syphilis may begin three to six weeks after the chancre appears, and may include:

  • Rash marked by red or reddish-brown, penny-sized sores over any area of your body, including your palms and soles
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fatigue and a vague feeling of discomfort
  • Soreness and aching

These signs and symptoms may disappear without treatment within a few weeks or repeatedly come and go for as long as a year.

Latent syphilis

In some people, a period called latent syphilis — in which no symptoms are present — may follow the secondary stage. Signs and symptoms may never return, or the disease may progress to the tertiary stage.

Tertiary syphilis

Without treatment, syphilis bacteria may spread, leading to serious internal organ damage and death years after the original infection.

Some of the signs and symptoms of tertiary syphilis include:

  • Lack of coordination
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis
  • Blindness
  • Dementia


At any stage, syphilis can affect the nervous system. Neurosyphilis may cause no signs or symptoms, or it can cause:

  • Headache
  • Behavior changes
  • Movement problems

If you suspect you have an STI, see your doctor

If you suspect you have these or other STIs or that you may have been exposed to one, see your doctor for testing. Timely diagnosis and treatment are important to avoid or delay more-severe, potentially life-threatening health problems and to avoid infecting others.

March 18, 2015 See more In-depth