STDs Expert Forum
questions about herpes
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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questions about herpes

i have a few questions regarding genital herpes...

1. how rare is it for herpes to appear as one single painless lession?
2. can herpes reapper different places (i.e. between thigh, next month on penis, next month on butt, etc.)
3. can herpes appear 'under the skin' much like a zit  or cyst apposed to 'on the skin' which it is known for
4. can herpes appear and never form a blister or open lession, just retreat into the skin?
5. does herpes ever cause deep dark scarring?
6. could a doctor miss diagnois herpes for chronic boils or even sabeceous cyst after cloes examination?
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In addition to the replies that follow, you should read up on genital herpes.  Some excellent resources are available online.  I suggests CDC (, the American Social Health Association (, Portland Oregon's Westover Heights Clinic (, and my former health department, where I largely wrote the information myself (

1) Most cases have multiple lesions, especially during the first infection.  Single lesions sometimes occur in recurrent herpes.

2) Either genital or oral herpes usually recurs in more or less the  same spot--within an inch or two--every time.  Also, recurrences almost always are on one side of the body or the other.  That is, a guy with recurrence on the left side of the penile shaft is unlikely to ever have any recurrences on the right side.

3) Apparently you have read the forum; to my knowledge, I'm the only one who has used the "in skin" versus "on skin" terminology.  My opinion hasn't changed.  Herpes lesions typically are superficial, not as deep as pimples, cysts, etc.

4) Some herpes outbreaks don't go much beyond a red bump, but the large majority go on to form blisters then open sores.

5) Herpes rarely causes scarring of any color.

6) Herpes and boils or sebaceous cysts are very different from one another.  Most health care providers would not confuse them.

Assuming the questions reflect your own symptoms, it sounds like you can be sure that herpes isn't the cause.

Good luck-- HHH, MD
thanks so much for your answers, i do have one more question and i assure you it will be the last.

if herpes prensents as a red painless bump without blisters, how long is it present on the skin from start to finish (on avG)

thanks a lot and god bless
Who knows?  There are no data.  Probably anywhere from 2 to 10 days.  But this question probably is irrelevant to your situation anyway.  Based on all you said in the previous message, there seems to be no realistic chance herpes explains your symptoms.  
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H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D.Blank
University of Washington
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