Herpes lesions are present during a herpes outbreak. These red, watery sores are associated with both herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1, known as oral herpes or cold sores, causes blisters around the mouth. HSV-2, known as genital herpes, causes blisters around the penis, vulva, vagina, anus, and rectum. The blisters go through stages, eventually crusting over and disappearing.
Herpes lesions look different during each phase. Before the rash becomes a series of blisters, there might be an itchy, overall feeling of discomfort in the genital area. The skin might feel tender and tingly. At times, the skin might turn pink or red, although it may go unobserved. The same symptoms are apparent around the mouth region.
Once the initial achy, itchy rash occurs, a breakout is most likely about to happen. Although some herpes victims may experience only one breakout in their lifetimes, many people experience several a year. The tingly, achy sensation is a telltale sign of an impending outbreak.
Once the herpes lesions appear, the victim might notice small, red fever blisters in or around the affected area. There might just be one blister. More likely, however, there will be several clusters of blisters around either the genitals or the mouth.
Lesions rarely form inside the mouth, though it is possible. Occasionally, the herpes lesions can crawl over the neck or even the eyes. A doctor should always be consulted in serious cases, as well as when the initial outbreak occurs. There are prescriptions available that can treat the effects of herpes, but there is no cure.
The blisters may also appear as open sores, with a dark red or whitish tip. These ulcers are quite painful and should be treated gently. When possible, the lesions should be allowed to breathe. Such sores can make it difficult to urinate or perform a bowel movement. It is imperative that the infected party washes his hands after coming into contact with the lesions, so as not to transmit the disease to others.
It is important to note that HSV-1 and HSV-2 can both cause lesions in the mouth or genital area. While it is technically referred to as a sexually transmitted disease (STD), herpes is in the herpesviridae DNA family. It is the same family that causes chickenpox, shingles, and Epstein-Barr, among other infections. Herpes lesions are not the same as pockmarks or shingles, though.
Though the virus is typically spread by skin-on-skin contact with someone shedding the infection, it can also be transmitted during childbirth. While rare, this can be a dangerous problem. Usually, however, a sexual partner transmits the disease during vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The partner needn’t be in the middle of an outbreak to spread the virus. It is more likely to be spread when lesions are present, however.