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Avatar universal

Possible Herpes, etc. Cosmetic (visible) symptoms only?

Hey there, thank you in advance for any help offered. I am concerned that I may have contracted an STD, possibly Herpes Type 2, and would love a health professional's opinion based on my photos and symptoms. I am an unemployed, uninsured college student and have not yet been checked by a professional or been tested, as I lack the money until my student loan entitlement comes next month.

What has me so confused is that I read that Herpes is supposed to be VERY uncomfortable, making someone miserable, which I do not exhibit. In a very small amount of pictures I found to compare to on the internet, it looks similar, but in a vast majority of them it doesn't look anywhere as severe. I have no flu like symptoms, they (the spots) were not painful, itchy, BARELY irritable and even then only for a few days. Everything on the bottom of my penis was not fluid filled, and the small ones seemed to be too fragile to be Herpes. My anus had itched for a period of time after, but I attributed that to my uncharacteristically bad dieting habits during that period (not a lot of fiber, a lot of fast food). There was no anal contact on my part. Also, another point worth noting: I performed very invasive, intimate oral sex inside and around the woman's vagina and anus, and I have ZERO symptoms in or around my mouth. Anyways, here is the details of the progression, etc.

I had unprotected sex with someone I did not know well at all on the night of July 13th. About two days later, I noticed what I thought to be a a razor cut on the lower left part of my penis.

I had shaved my pubic area about an hour or 2 before the encounter and did not think anything of it. If I remember correctly, I did cut myself somewhere in the area in question, but cannot be sure of the exact spot.

I also noticed two hair follicles reddening as if they were infected that were about 3/4th of an inch away from the initial spot, another thing that commonly happens. I cannot remember if this was on the same day or the next day of noticing the initial spot. These two did NOT resemble a razor cut, just reddened hair follicles that I would BARELY consider "bumps", although unlike the first spot they could be called a bump when I ran my finger over them. I did something questionable at this point and I plucked the hair out of them with a tweezers, thinking it was just an infected follicle and I could just pop them and they'd heal. They were not zits or filled with anything; they were not "poppable". About 3 days after I noticed these two, it had spread to another spot right next to them, but from what I can tell this spot is not a hair follicle.

All 3 of these started out as nothing more than skin redness, however, they would remain as redness during regular living but turn white while in the shower. After a few showers the skin that was turning white would come off in the shower. It was painless, the skin would kind of just flake off. They have existed in the state you see them in the picture pretty much since day 4, although over time they have become less and less sensitive to the touch (I would already say they were barely sensitive to the touch at their worst). They do not itch, they do not hurt. I do not have any fever like symptoms. At no point were they filled with any fluid and burst open; they came in to their current state of appearance only after the white portion of the skin came off in the shower. I tried treating them based on the notion that it was a run of the mill infection and tried to bandage the initial 4 spots and applying Neosporin to them overnight for a few days (maybe days 8-11 after the sex). If it did anything to help it was barely noticeable.

About 5-6 days after the initial sighting, I noticed a small spot on the tip of my penis. It was red, smooth to the touch (no swelling, or "zit" type deal) and at that point about the size of a pen tip. I tried to grasp it as if it were a zit to see if it had the potential to pop and it didn't. About a day or 2 after the first appearance, it had grown ever-so-slightly in size and at that point when I squeezed it (really hard, much harder than a zit that might appear on my face), a very very small amount of blood did come out but that was it. At that point, it too started to turn white while in the shower and the skin began to come off while wet, as the first group of spots. It has since grown just a little bit larger, but is noticeably more red and swollen; not too bad though compared to the other stuff. As of this post, when I run my finger over it, it feels pretty much like a scab; no pain, no discomfort, slightly sensitive probably due to the location, but essentially just cosmetic. I read that this was probably just an aggravated nerve ending from the sex that would heal in time.

Even after all of this, I had written all of it off as just a regular infection as a result of my poor shaving habits that would heal eventually. However, about 3 or 4 days ago, another group of 3 very very small bumps showed up about 1.5 inches up my penis shaft. When these first appeared, they were slightly visibly swollen (kinda like a zit) but not as red as the other type previously described, barely red at all. Where they differed that has me worried is that they looked like they had a small amount of clear fluid inside them, and they were very fragile. After I ran my finger over one of them a few times, it broke. The other ones held up a little longer, but they had broke after the first shower. They did not turn white like the other stuff. They have existed as they are in the photo for about two days; they did not turn red and resemble a scab like they appear until about 2 days after they broke in the shower.

Here are the photos:


-The spot in the middle of the two groups of three down at the bottom is the initial spot. As you can see, compared to the other ones it looks to be healing and on its way to disappearing, which would have boded well for me if that second group of 3 had not appeared. Again, no pain, no itching. Sometimes they'd be very slightly irritating to the touch, but that's it.

The spot furthest to the right is the one that appeared AFTER the two other ones close to it. These "other two" were the spots that I thought to be infected hair follicles. In this group of 3 spots, you can see what appears to be some sort of crusted up moisture, presumably from the lesions. (Side note: the terminology of abrasion, lesion etc has me very confused in my attempt at self-diagnosis, another reason why I'm on this board.) Again, no pain, no itching. Sometimes they'd be very slightly irritating to the touch, but that's it.

The second group of three is the furthest to the left, that reignited my worry. They had a small amount of clear fluid inside them, were VERY sensitive, breaking very quickly, and then just over the last day or 2 they have started to look like the scabs they appear to look like in the photo. If I remember correctly, they did grow back once as fluid filled but broke just as easily.


This is the one at the tip of my penis. As far as it's initial size, it was about the size of one of those smaller spots up the shaft of my penis (far left in the first picture). After I popped it and that small amount of blood came out, it pretty much got to where it is in the picture within 24 hours and has been that way since.

Thank you for reading my long winded story. As you can tell I am very worried and I hope to get to the bottom of this sooner rather than later!

31 Responses
Avatar universal
One more thing: In the third paragraph up from the bottom, I say that the second group of 3 spots was very sensitive. What I mean by that is simply that they were fragile, in that they broke pretty easily.They were NOT painful, itchy or anything of that sort. Just wanted to clarify that.
101028 tn?1419603004
we don't look at pictures here. why not is explained in our read before posting post on the forum.

bottom line is - you need to be seen and get these symptoms looked at. You also need to cover your bases with proper std testing since you had unprotected sex. You can check with your local health department to see what local low cost/no cost options are available to you. You can test for chlamydia, gonorrhea and trich anytime after 1 week post encounter. syphilis after 6 weeks. herpes, hiv and hepatitis after 3months.

have you had your gardasil shot series yet?

we recommend protected sexual contact because it works! Protect yourself in the future and only have protected sexual contact - that includes oral sex too. If you don't have insurance, it's well worth the cost of a condom so that you don't put your health at risk and rack up expensive medical bills!

do your symptoms sound like herpes? no they do not but they certainly need followed up on. no more shaving either until you know what is going on since it can further irritate things as well as you risk spreading an infection elsewhere too.

Avatar universal
Grace, thank you so much for your response. I do have a few more questions to ask, if you would be so kind:

I called Planned Parenthood to schedule a cost-covered appointment for an STD test, but they could not get me in until next Thursday. After I had done so, my anxiety quickly built and I could not help myself. I am really stressing and flipping out, getting the "my life may be over" feeling. Anyways, I scheduled a same-day blood and urine analysis for 8 STDs, amongst them Herpes 1 and 2. I went in and took care of it (put it on a credit card), and I will have the results in 1-3 business days, so no later than Tuesday I presume.

I have read thus far that blood tests for HSV focus on detecting the presence of antibodies in the blood, but that in such a little window of time there may not be sufficient levels of these antibodies to come up as a positive, when you may in fact actually be infected. Here is my question: being that I am having visible symptoms which would include blistering, lesions, whatever you want to call them, if it is in fact Herpes will it show up on the results for a blood test as surely as it could be? I can't imagine how it would not show up positive in a blood sample if I am actually in the midst of my first outbreak. Is that a fair assumption or does the window of time still need to honored? Whatever the answer, I do intend to get another test for HIV and HSV at the 3 month mark, regardless of the outcome of these tests.

Also, in hind sight I would have rather elected to see a health professional to physically examine me and make the diagnosis himself. I did not get to see a professional who could make a diagnosis with a simple swab of one of the sores, all I did was submit a blood and urine sample; no one examined me. My second question is: regardless of the blood sample, would a visit to someone who would look at it and take a swab of the sore present a more sure way of diagnosing? I suppose either way I will need to see one, since I certainly need to determine what this is if it ISN'T HSV.

Grace, thank you very much, I appreciate it a whole lot.
101028 tn?1419603004
whether or not you have actual herpes lesions has nothing to do with your body creating enough of an igg response to infection to be detected sooner on the blood tests.  you pretty much wasted your money on some of the testing you paid to have done too early :(  

these don't sound like herpes so I wouldn't worry about getting a lesion culture done at this point. being seen next week is fine. should things get worse, be seen earlier.  
Avatar universal
Hey Grace,

Would the accuracy of a lesion culture be accurate at this time? Is it a time sensitive issue like the blood testing?
101028 tn?1419603004
lesion cultures are most accurate when done within 48 hours of the appearance of symptoms.
Avatar universal
I know some of this is beating the same drum, but I am having a lot of anxiety over this. I thank you for your time, hopefully someone skimming the boards will learn a thing or two from my instance. I intend to report all my testing back when I get it.

I am going to request a lesion culture when I attend that appointment on Thursday, if the lesions are still there. They have not made any progress in healing in any of the three areas (the one on the top of my penis looks like a normal scab not a "lesion", nor does the second group of three that appeared that re-ignited my worry) since Wednesday.

The very first abnormality is almost healed and has been that way for a day or 2, and I believe the ones at the base of my penis are not healing because they stretch too much when I am aroused. I stretched my penis a bit to have a look at them earlier today and I felt part of one of them tear, so I can only imagine what an erection is doing to it.

I have been talking to the woman I was with, and she told me that she had been tested for STDs a few weeks prior, but was not tested for Herpes. She has never had any symptoms which is why she didn't get it done, although I know it isn't uncommon for someone to never have any symptoms at all and yet still carry the virus. She said that she had been with two men since the testing and myself, but both used condoms, and again she has had no symptoms.

Grace, do you know of any STDs that start out as a simple redness and turn white in the shower? Or maybe in broader terms, the actual diseases and conditions that would resemble this? I have seen Folicilitis, but none other, although many Doctors I have seen speak on the issue claim there are many diseases, infections and fungus that would do so, yet they never name any.

What has me so confused is that except for the fact that they all turn white in the shower, they look and seem to behave in three different ways.

The first 4 spots just started out as a redness, would turn white in the shower, and the skin would just fall off. No clear fluids, no pain or itching (beyond slight sting to the touch that an open sore would have). They look the worst, noticeably like lesions, like an entire layer of my skin is just missing. They also have the characteristic crusting that I have read is associated with Herpes; it usually only sticks around for a bit after I wake up, and is not visible again until I wake up the next day.

The one on the tip of my penis looks like a "normal" scab; when I popped it, only blood came out, and a very small amount. No clear fluid involved at all.

The second set of three were actually very very small (the tip of a needle) but when I first noticed them they DID have a small amount of clear fluid in them. They were so fragile that after a few times running my finger over one of them it broke, and the other two broke in my first shower after appearing. Is that common or are Herpes blisters more "firm" or harder than that?
101028 tn?1419603004
don't waste your time or money on a lesion culture thursday . far too late then for it to be of any use.   follow up with a type specific herpes igg blood test 3 months after you last had sex to cover your herpes bases at this point.

Avatar universal
For what it's worth (not much, judging by my research on the condition), I got my test results back today. Again, it was taken 13 days after what would have been the exposure. Everything has come back negative (tested for 8 different STDs). For both the Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and 2, the results were:

Value: <0.91
Range: 0.00-0.90
Result: Negative

I know this doesn't mean much as far as certainty, but I do feel a bit better. I will follow up with my 3 month test when I go do it in October. Grace, thanks again for giving my post the time of day.

101028 tn?1419603004
you posted the results interpretation ranges, not your results.
Avatar universal
Oh, this is all I have been shown for my results. I guess I will have to call them. You mean the actual value that was below 0.91, right? That is the actual result?
Avatar universal
Update: I called them, they told me that when they do the test they only keep the range as a matter of record. They didn't keep the exact value. Kinda upset considering the money I spent but there's nothing I can do about it other than not test with them again in 3 months.
Avatar universal
Even though the test is not 100% reliable that early, would it have been fair to assume that a 0.80 compared to a 0.001 or something like that would have been a little more telling than just a range? I probably would have been able to feel a bit better about it if I just saw flat 0s all around.

Unrelated, my Hep C results actually had a value of 0.1, don't know what the deal with that is.
101028 tn?1419603004
oh sorry I was watching the olympics while on the forum last evening and obviously my brain was distracted!!!  yes, you are negative on your testing.   sorry about any confusion. should know I can't do two things at one time!!!

is there a difference between a .1 and a .8 as far as being negative? no there is not.  

since it's only been a little over 2 weeks since you last had sex, if you are really concerned, repeat your syphilis after 6 weeks ( you can call your local health department or ask your student health center if there are even any cases in your area to make it worth testing ) and herpes, hepatitis and hiv after 3 months. all but the herpes testing can be done at your local health department for very low cost.  should you get new symptoms, be seen for them to try to get a better idea of what is going on.
Avatar universal
Being that Herpes is permanent, concerned is definitely an understatement. The partner in question is going in for testing next week. If she tests negative, I will begin to operate on the premise that I don't have anything, but I will still be getting the tests done at three months.
Avatar universal
I found these photos on the University of Washington website. I don't know if you folks prohibit yourselves from looking at photos period or photos of the actual people posting, BUT...


While there was nowhere near the amount, the ulcers I was experiencing looked almost exactly like Photo #27 when they began to scab up and heal.

The second set of three bumps that appeared looked very much like Photo #29, as well as one final small little deal that showed up about 2-3 days ago and is already gone (what remains looks exactly like the group of 3 it resembled).

The first four, the redness that turned white and came off in the shower, looked pretty much like Photo #31 for a period of about 8 days as they healed.

I don't know, I am just so stressed out about this. Like everyone says, not knowing is way worse than the finality, regardless of the outcome. I feel like I have to put my life on hold for the next 6 months, which is killing me because I just met an absolutely amazing person that I am going to have to tell about this soon.
101028 tn?1419603004
many things look like pictures of herpes which is why follow up testing is recommended.
Avatar universal

When I get the re-test at three months, do you recommend I get the same test or that I get a Western Blot?
101028 tn?1419603004
the same test you had done is fine.
Avatar universal
I can definitely add loss of appetite and swollen lymph nodes to my list of symptoms. It was in my lower left abdominal; I thought it was a strained adductor but the pain is now gone. I was waiting to see if it would go away to say anything about it. I didn't even know lymph nodes existed down there.

Avatar universal
Hey there, just a follow up, more for the observers who come here for help. I received more testing for Herpes at 6 weeks and 3 months and both came back negative. I know it can take up to 6 months to seroconvert, but as far as I am concerned it's not Herpes and I have moved on. Dr. Hook and Hansfield would both agree that considering neither one of them thought my lesions were Herpes to start with 3, negative tests is pretty much conclusive. Thanks again for the help Grace.
101028 tn?1419603004
glad you are able to move forward :)
Avatar universal
Hey Grace,

As a matter of curiosity, I e-mailed the company I tested through about the precise test I had taken for my Herpes Type-Specific testing. What I want to know is, based upon what you understand about the different types of testing, is his comparison to a Herpeselect test valid here? Would you say that the 90-95% reliability figure applies with this test at 12 weeks post encounter as it does with the Herpeselect?

Again, I took this same exact test at 13 days, 6 weeks and 12 weeks post exposure.

This is the correspondence I received:

"At Labcorp locations we use the type specific CAPTIA serology test to detect herpes. This test is as accurate as the HerpeSelect, but it's made by a different company.  It is a type specific IgG test and is very accurate at distinguishing between a type 1 and type 2 herpes infection. This is an industry standard test administered routinely in doctors’ offices nationwide. CAPTIA is a highly accurate, type specific test (as recommended by the Centers For Disease Control) with a very low false negative rate.  A false negative is a negative test result in a person who actually has herpes. That happens less than 3% of the time. In other words, it’s very rare to have herpes and get a negative test result (unless you tested too early after an exposure)."

101028 tn?1419603004
so much for moving forward I see.
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