Medical News Today: Telling the difference between genital pimples and herpes

Genital herpes and genital pimples have related traits, typically showing as small, pus-filled bumps on the pores and skin. There are variations between genital herpes and pimples on the genitals, nonetheless, which might help an individual determine every situation.

The looks of small pus-filled bumps on the genitals may cause fear. Though not all bumps are trigger for concern, anybody who’s in any doubt ought to seek the advice of their physician.

Pimples are the results of a buildup of filth or oil that clogs up the pores. Genital pimples typically seem pink or purple and are stuffed with white pus. They don’t seem to be a critical medical situation.

In keeping with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that has no treatment. Genital herpes can current as white or purple bumps stuffed with a transparent liquid or as purple ulcers which can be sometimes painful.

In keeping with the World Health Organization (WHO), roughly 417 million individuals worldwide have the virus that causes genital herpes.

Signs of genital herpes vs. pimples

Herpes and pimples share the next signs:

  • each might seem as a cluster of purple bumps
  • each might itch
  • each include pus

Herpes-specific signs

Genital herpes vs pimples itch
When an individual has herpes or pimples, they could itch within the affected space.

The herpes virus can lie dormant for years after publicity, and signs might seem any time. Typically individuals don’t have any indicators or don’t acknowledge them.

When an outbreak of genital herpes does happen, it normally presents as a patch of small purple or white bumps or purple ulcers.

These lesions are sometimes painful. Genital herpes might also seem on the buttocks or mouth in some instances.

The pus-filled blisters will ultimately burst, leaving an ulcer-like sore on the pores and skin. Individuals might expertise extra ache when the blisters burst. It may possibly take a number of weeks for a herpes outbreak to subside. The primary outbreak, nonetheless, tends to be probably the most extreme.

Individuals who have herpes might also expertise extra signs. These signs might embrace:

  • fever
  • achiness
  • headaches
  • ache within the legs
  • swollen lymph nodes
  • vaginal discharge

Lesions attributable to genital herpes are likely to really feel softer than a pimple and may typically resemble a blister.

Pimple-specific signs

Genital pimples, in contrast, typically really feel agency to the contact. Pimples might seem one after the other or in small clusters. Pimples additionally are likely to type close to areas the place sweat can gather. They might develop in areas the place underwear or different tight clothes touches the pores and skin, inflicting sweat and filth to construct up.

Pimples develop inside pores and can solely rise above the pores and skin floor in the event that they accumulate sufficient pus. Pimples will leak thick pus or blood if squeezed or scratched.

Genital pimples might itch, however not like herpes lesions, they don’t are typically painful until an individual applies stress to them. Pimples might also seem following intense train, warmth, or humidity. Pimples will clear up rapidly generally.

What are the causes?

Causes of genital pimples and genital herpes are solely completely different.

Causes of genital pimples

Genital pimples should not contagious.

They develop because of:

  • clogged pores and skin pores
  • ingrown hair
  • folliculitis

Causes of genital herpes

A virus referred to as herpes simplex virus (HSV) causes genital herpes. The virus can simply unfold from person-to-person by sexual exercise.

There are two forms of herpes virus.

  • HSV-1 is usually known as oral herpes because it tends to type in or close to the mouth.
  • HSV-2 sometimes develops across the genitals and is the most common type of sexually transmitted an infection.

Sexual exercise can unfold each forms of the herpes virus. Practising secure intercourse might help forestall the virus from spreading. Nonetheless, individuals can still contract the virus even when utilizing a condom or dental dam.

Threat elements

Genital herpes vs pimples
Shaving pubic hair might trigger genital pimples.

An individual is at excessive danger for creating genital pimples when:

  • they’re extraordinarily sweaty
  • sporting tight clothes that may lure sweat and particles beneath the pores and skin
  • shaving over pubic hair
  • the climate is hotter and extra humid

Individuals can contract genital herpes by sexual exercise with anybody who has the virus.

Individuals most in danger are sexually energetic individuals with a number of companions.

It’s nonetheless potential for herpes to unfold from person-to-person even when utilizing a condom or a dental dam and an individual shouldn’t be experiencing a flare.

How are they identified?

Genital pimples are likely to clear up rapidly on their very own.

Nonetheless, individuals ought to communicate to their physician if the pimples don’t clear up with easy routine modifications or if the bumps seem shortly after sexual exercise.

A health care provider can diagnose genital herpes by finishing up a take a look at to see whether or not the HSV virus is current. Potential checks embrace:

  • HSV DNA take a look at
  • HSV tradition
  • herpes serologic take a look at

If a health care provider confirms genital herpes, they could additionally verify for added STIs.


Therapy choices fluctuate in keeping with whether or not an individual has pimples or herpes.

Pimple remedy

It’s not normally essential to deal with genital pimples with something greater than good hygiene practices, equivalent to cleansing the genital space extra completely or continuously.

Different remedy choices embrace:

  • making use of ointments that include acne remedy
  • utilizing antibacterial cleaning soap
  • making use of antibacterial lotions
  • utilizing a heat compress and making use of it a number of occasions a day
  • attempting important oil ointments with antibacterial properties

Herpes remedy

Herpes remedy, in contrast, normally requires medical intervention. A health care provider will sometimes prescribe antiviral drugs to fight the herpes an infection. Individuals ought to take the advisable doses and keep away from sexual contact till the outbreak subsides.

A health care provider might advocate over-the-counter (OTC) ache drugs or prescribe barely stronger medicines if the lesions are painful.

Can they be prevented?

Genital herpes vs pimples condom prevention
Utilizing a condom throughout sexual exercise will assist forestall genital herpes.

Individuals can take steps to keep away from creating both genital pimples or herpes.

To forestall pimples, an individual can strive:

  • washing their genitals at the least as soon as a day and after any exercise that causes the individual to sweat
  • sporting loose-fitting clothes that doesn’t trigger friction
  • bathing or showering usually
  • avoiding shaving pubic hair

An individual might help forestall genital herpes by:

  • at all times utilizing a condom or dental dam throughout sexual exercise
  • avoiding having intercourse with somebody who has herpes
  • avoiding having intercourse throughout a accomplice’s flare


Individuals might confuse genital herpes and genital pimples.

Indicators that the pus-filled bumps are herpes and never pimples embrace.

  • ache related to the bumps
  • extra signs
  • look of bumps following sexual contact with a accomplice

Pimples ought to clear on their very own and are sometimes preventable. Herpes will trigger an individual to expertise flares and can normally require extra medical remedy.


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