This is a very good question because 80-90% of people who have genital herpes don’t know they have it. Most individuals have no or only minimal signs or symptoms from genital herpes infection.
The first sign is an outbreak of blisters in your genital area. Other signs and symptoms during the primary episode may include a second crop of sores, and flu-like symptoms, including fever and swollen glands.
About herpes sores/blisters:
The skin or the mucous membrane becomes extremely sensitive to the touch and there will be an almost unbearable itch exactly where the sore will appear.
It usually starts out as a lump under the skin and as it starts to push out it becomes very sore and swollen. This is the most painful and difficult part usually. As the herpes outbreak continues to push out through the skin you will notice (if you are looking) a fluid filled sore that is still quite painful but perhaps less so at this point. At this stage it will be a matter of time before the sore opens and healing can begin.
The herpes sores are different from other infections:
– Yeast infection symptoms (itching, burning, redness throughout the entire vagina and labia area)
– vaginal impetigo which does NOT hurt and is not sore
– ingrown hairs which can actually look like herpes outbreaks but feel much more like a skin blemish and are most often easily burst (it is very difficult to burst a herpes sore and I would never recommend it as it can become infected and scarring can result. Plus it does nothing to speed up healing)
To know for sure that you have contacted genital herpes you need to visit the doctor. They will diagnose you by a visual inspection if the outbreak is typical, and by taking a sample from the sore(s) and testing it in a laboratory.
HSV infections can be diagnosed between outbreaks by the use of a blood test.