Steps to Take when Having a Herpes Outbreak

Man looking at herpes on his lip Steps to Take when Having a Herpes Outbreak

Herpes is a term that covers a variety of infections, including cold sores on the face and mouth or genital herpes. Knowing the signs and symptoms to look for can alert you that a herpes outbreak is occurring so you can begin finding the proper treatment. The dermatologists at the Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute share what to look for and treatment options to get help.

What Are the Common Types of Herpes?

Herpes on the Face or Mouth

The most common type of herpes occurs on the face or mouth in the form of blisters or cold sores. When the cold sore first appears, you may notice tingling, itching, and crusting. The blisters and cold sores typically scab over and take up to three weeks to heal. If you are in close contact with someone, such as kissing, you can spread the cold sore. There is no specific cause for this type of herpes, but once you catch it, the herpes will eventually go into a resting phase and will likely continue to randomly occur.

To avoid getting cold sores, it is recommended to avoid close contact when blisters are apparent on another person, avoid sharing items that go in or near your mouth, and keep your hands clean. If you cannot prevent yourself from getting a cold sore, you can try and let it clear up on its own or use antiviral medication.

Genital Herpes

Genital herpes is not as common as cold sores, but you will know when it is happening because it is extremely painful. Genital herpes appear in the genital area in the form of sores. You will also notice a burning sensation when you urinate as well as pain and itching in the genital area. Genital herpes is transmitted through sexual intercourse and is contagious. Sexual intercourse should be avoided until the herpes is completely cleared up. It can also be spread by touching the infected area and then touching other body parts. Washing your hands thoroughly can help prevent it from spreading.

If you feel as if you have genital herpes, seeing a dermatologist right away is important. They will do a blood test, a tissue sample, or a PCR test (a copy of your DNA from your blood that is tested). Once confirmed that you have genital herpes, an antiviral medication will be prescribed to help with symptoms. There is no cure for genital herpes, but the medication can help to heal sores, lessen symptoms, and reduce the virus from recurring as much. Just as cold sores have a resting phase, so do genital herpes, and it can resurface.

Surprisingly, women are more likely to get genital herpes, and those who have various sexual partners are also at risk. To prevent contracting genital herpes, it is recommended to use a condom during intercourse and to avoid intercourse with anyone who currently has herpes sores.


If you are noticing signs of cold sores or genital herpes, get in touch as soon as possible with the dermatologists at the Dermatology & Mohs Surgery Institute. If you are in Bloomington, Illinois, or the surrounding areas, complete this form.

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