Does Herpes Look Like A Pimple?

People often ask, “Does herpes look like a pimple” when a strange bump suddenly shows up in the genital area. The first thought that comes to the minds of most sexually active people is whether it’s a sexually transmitted disease and they want to know if that little bump is a sign of something worse than a pimple.

I wish there was a hard and definitive “Yes” or “No” answer.  The best that I can do for you is “sometimes”.  It just depends of the stage of the possible herpes outbreak.

Nearly all of us have experienced a sudden pimple popping up on different body parts and we hardly ever question what it is.  But when one appears on our genital area or on our lips we find ourselves freaking out a little.  Hopefully the information on this page will help you determine if you have a harmless pimple or herpes sore.

Surprisingly, there are still a lot of people who mistake genital herpes to be pimples because most people don't know what a herpes blister looks like. There should be no doubt that at some point genital herpes blisters do resemble pimples but more often than not it will not take very long before it becomes clear and hard to make that mistake.

Close Up Picture of Pimples

Close Up Picture of Herpes Blisters

Does Herpes look like a pimple now?

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An infection in the genital area that resembles a pimple can mean many different things because the skin around the genitals reacts in the same way as the skin on other parts of the body that have hair. Many people with facial hair develop pimples as a result of the skin being irritated from block hair follicles. These are commonly known as ingrown hairs. This can happen in the genital area too. They may even be painful because of all the sensitive nerve endings on or around the genitals.  So if you notice that hair is growing from the bump then it’s probably just a pimple.  See the photo below of an ingrown hair pimple.

During the early stages of a genial herpes outbreak you will usually experience “funny feelings” such as a tingly feeling that are sometimes described as “pins and needles” on the back side of your thighs, buttocks and/or the back of your knees.  See the image below that highlights the areas.

In the next photo you’ll notice that anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 days many people will start to experience itching in a much localized area within the genital area.  This area is defined as the “boxer short” area.  This is because a genital herpes outbreak typically occurs within this area. 

In a short while small red bumps will begin to form and soon after the bumps develop into blisters.   It’s the time just before they actually develop and grow into herpes blisters that they may be overlooked and appear to be pimples.  See the herpes image below.

As seen in the next picture, as the bumps continue developing, it's very hard to mistake them for anything else but herpes blisters.  You’ll soon realize that there is something more going on as the time between stages passes.

Genital herpes sores and blisters can vary in size from 1 mm to more than 2 mm in diameter. These blisters are filled with a clear fluid that will eventually burst. Additionally herpes sores do not extend deep into the skin like a pimple typically does. In fact, the sores are directly on the skin’s surface and they scab over after they burst.

As you can see, answering the question does herpes look like a pimple is not as simple as it may seem.

I'm still not sure if it's herpes or a pimple!

If you're still uncertain and still wondering...does herpes look like a pimple, then my advice is to wait a couple of days and see what happens with the suspect bump.  Pay attention to your body and what you are feeling.  Be on the lookout for the tingle feelings behind your buttocks, thighs and knees.  Be extra sensitive to any sensation of itching within the boxer short area.  Try to look for any other symptoms as well, such as the fever or any muscle soreness.

If after a few days the bump that you think might be herpes doesn’t change or if it develops a white pus head, then you probably just have an infected hair follicle or a pimple.

Another thing to consider is the pain associated with a pimple and a herpes blister.  I realize that everyone has a different tolerance for pain and various thresholds but from my personal experience with each, the pain from a pimple is often non-existent or dull at most.  Contrasting to a herpes blister, the pain is quite sharp and direct.

When in doubt, it’s always best to seek out the advice of your doctor or another properly trained person. Try not to be embarrassed when asking "does herpes look like a pimple". Genital herpes is very common and it’s very likely that your doctor has already seen several people who have the virus before your appointment! If you do have herpes, there are ways to control it and learning what your options are will help you live with herpes.

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Learn More About What Herpes Looks Like


What Does Herpes Look Like?
What does herpes look like is a common question from people who suspect they have genital herpes symptoms. A lot of people confuse it with other skin conditions such as a rash or pimples. Learn what herpes looks like here.

Genital Herpes Pictures - Genitals
Common genital herpes pictures to gain a clear understanding of a typical initial genital herpes outbreak, signs and symptoms. Initial genital herpes outbreaks are generally more severe than reoccurring outbreaks



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