Herpes is a condition that may cause sores around the genitals or around the mouth and lips. Herpes simplex 1 usually causes cold sores around the mouth, while herpes simplex 2 usually causes genital herpes. Remember, though, that both herpes simplex 1 and 2 may cause either condition. If you recognize any of the symptoms of herpes, speak with a doctor for diagnosis and treatment options.

Cold Sores

Cold sores appear around the outside of the mouth and lips. If you have sores on the inside of the mouth, it may be a canker sore. Canker sores are not caused by a virus and are not contagious. They may be caused by stress or tissue damage, although the exact cause is not fully understood.

Cold sores are blisters that, while they are most common around the mouth and lips, may actually appear anywhere on the body including the fingers, nose, cheeks, etc. Blisters will eventually break and may ooze. They may then become crusty before new skin is revealed underneath.

Most patients will experience a cold sore at some point in their life. The first cold sore is usually the most problematic and may even cause serious illness in children. If symptoms become serious or if you or your child becomes seriously ill, see a doctor immediately.

Most people develop antibodies after their first cold sore and will never have another one again, although some people have multiple cold sores throughout their life. Patients with diseases or conditions that weaken their immune system should see a doctor upon noticing a cold sore, as the infection could be life-threatening.

Most cold sores are harmless, however. In rare cases, the virus may cause blindness, meningitis or encephalitis if it spreads to the eye or brain.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes often appear as a cluster of fluid-filled blisters around the genital area. They may break and form sores that eventually crust over and heal. Sores may be very painful and can be a nuisance for many patients.

Some patients with genital herpes may notice a rash or tiny bumps in the genital region. Painful urination and fluid discharge from the vagina are also possible symptoms of genital herpes. Patients may also experience flu-like symptoms following the initial outbreak, which usually appears four to seven days after infection.

Before an outbreak of herpes, patients may notice itching, burning or tingling, as well as sharp pains. Outbreak frequency varies among patients. Some patients may experience an outbreak every few weeks, while others may have just one outbreak a year. Outbreaks tend to lessen in duration over time.

Speak with a qualified physician for further information about herpes and symptoms.