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Differences between Herpes and Other Common Skin Rashes

Herpes is a long-term condition. It’s so common in the United States and includes two main forms. They are oral herpes and genital herpes. Both forms of herpes have similar symptoms. Also, they are often mistaken by other skin conditions. Many people who have inflamed skin and painful blisters think that they have herpes. Here’s how to distinguish between herpes and other common skin rashes.

Differences between Herpes and Other Common Skin Rashes

1. Herpes

The herpes simplex virus (HSV) is the culprit of herpes infections. It has two main strains. These are:

  • Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) which can cause oral herpes. The condition is also known as a cold sore or a fever blister. It commonly occurs on the face, around the mouth and on the lips.
  • Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) which can cause genital herpes. The condition is considered one of the most feared STIs in the United States. It generally affects the genital and anal region. Besides, it can be transmitted easily via oral, vaginal and anal sex.

Herpes does not always present noticeable symptoms. But for some people, symptoms may begin to show up 3 to 7 days after exposure. They include:

  • A skin rash
  • A burning, itching or stinging sensation around the affected area
  • Blisters or painful sores in the affected area
  • A burning sensation, pain or discomfort when urinating

Herpes symptoms can last for 7 to 10 days. During healing stage, they break, crust over and form scabs.

Herpes symptoms

Herpes sores

Herpes can go away on its own without treatment. But, the virus can stay forever in the body. That’s why people with herpes tend to develop multiple outbreaks a year. For these cases, herpes can reoccur in the same area, or develop in a new area.

Several common triggers for herpes outbreaks include:

  • Cold weather
  • Too much exposure to sunlight
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Sexual intercourse

If you suspect you have herpes, talk to your doctor. Viral culture, DNA tests and blood tests can help to confirm the diagnosis.

Read more: Herpes Tests: Everything You Need to Know About

2. Other common skin rashes

Skin rashes may result from allergies or medical diseases. They usually have similar symptoms to herpes, but there are still some differences. For example.

Razor burn

Razor burn is a common skin rash caused by shaving. It can lead to ingrown hairs that look like herpes. But, herpes are described as red, fluid-filled blisters. Meanwhile, ingrown hairs look like acne or pimples. And, they appear with yellow in the center.

Razor burn is not serious and can be treated with tea tree oil, witch hazel or hydrocortisone.

razor burn and herpes

Razor burn

Genital warts

Genital warts are caused by HPV. They are described as flesh-colored bumps that can be confused with herpes. However, genital warts look like a cauliflower and most of the time, they are painless.

Treatment for genital warts may include: Vidarox, cryotherapy or laser treatment. 

Read more: What Are the Early Signs of Genital Warts?

Genital warts and herpes

Genital warts


Scabies can cause skin rash and redness. Sometimes, it can lead to pimples, bumps, or blisters that can be confused with herpes. But, herpes can affect the mouth and genital area. Meanwhile, scabies can appear anywhere on the body.

Scabies can be treated with a topical lotion or cream. They are: Ivermectin and Crotamiton.

Scabies and herpes


Jock itch

Jock itch is a fungal skin infection that mostly affects men. The condition can cause small blisters that look like herpes. However, jock itch is different from herpes in term of location. While the herpes sores usually occur on the penis, the jock itch rash can be found on the groin and inner thighs.

Treatment for jock itch: antifungal creams, such as Fugacil, Lamisil, or Clotrimazole.

Read more: Are You Suffering from Jock Itch? Know How to Prevent It

Jock itch and herpes

Jock itch


The virus that causes chicken pox can lead to shingles. Along with painful rash, shingles can cause itching and fluid-filled blisters. These symptoms can be similar to herpes. But, shingles only affects one side of the area. It could be either the left or right side of your eye, neck and face.

Treatment for shingles are: Valacyclovir (Valtrex) or Acyclovir (Zovirax).

Read more: What Is Shingles and How Do You Get It

Shingles and herpes



Dermatitis has two main types: contact and atopic. They are caused by irritants or allergens, for example a chemical or perfume. In severe cases, dermatitis can cause blisters that look like herpes. But, herpes affects some certain areas. Meanwhile, dermatitis appears anywhere on the body.

Treatment for dermatitis: use moisturizers and avoid irritants or allergens.

Dermatitis and herpes


Due to similar symptoms, herpes can be confused with some common skin rashes. To get an accurate diagnosis, check your symptoms carefully, or see a doctor. Herpes is not dangerous and can be treated with antiviral drugs. Prosurx is one of the best herpes creams on the market right now. By applying the cream, you will be able to get rid of symptoms and prevent future outbreaks. Prosurx has been shown to shorten the duration of herpes and speed up the healing time. If your herpes doesn’t improve with this, see a doctor for help.

Read more: How to Make Peace with Herpes



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