6 Diseases That Can Be Mistaken for Herpes

6 Diseases That Can Be Mistaken for Herpes

Herpes is a common infection caused by HSV (the herpes simplex virus). It’s contagious and can be passed from person to person through direct contact. People usually think of herpes as a cold sore resulting from HSV-1. This condition is also known as oral herpes or fever blisters. It mostly occurs on the lips, around the mouth. However, herpes can also infect the genital area, causing genital herpes. This kind of herpes is caused by the herpes simplex type 2 or HSV-2. Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections among humans. Symptoms of herpes are painful, but sometimes, they can be mistaken for other diseases. Thus, it’s very important to get specific herpes testing to confirm the diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of herpes?

To determine if it’s herpes, you need to know about its symptoms. According to doctors, there are several herpes symptoms that you shouldn’t ignore. These include:

  • Painful sores or pimples.
  • Itching and irritation.
  • A tingling sensation.
  • Pain while urinating.
  • Pain in your pelvis.
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, headaches, muscle-aches, etc.
Symptoms of herpes

Symptoms of herpes

Herpes symptoms can come and go themselves. Depending on the individual, they can last for up to 6 weeks. Cold sores can last for 8-12 days while genital herpes can persist longer for 14 days. In many cases, herpes presents in forms of sores or blisters. But sometimes, it develops no symptom at all. To confirm the diagnosis, you should contact your doctor for appropriate testing.

Related: 6 Herpes Symptoms That Every Woman Should Know

6 common diseases that can be mistaken for herpes

It’s very easy to confuse other diseases with herpes. Here are some diseases that can be confused and mistaken as herpes.

  1. Canker sores

Canker sores are commonly mistaken for herpes. But, according to doctors, there are many differences between them. Herpes is caused by HSV and it can be highly contagious. Canker sores are caused by a lack of nutrition, stress or allergies. Moreover, they are not considered to be contagious.  Canker sores often occur inside the mouth, and they can go away without treatment. Usually, this process takes 10-14 days.

Related: The Differences between Cold Sore and Canker Sore

Canker sores are often mistaken for herpes

Canker sores

  1. Yeast infections

Yeast infections are sometimes confused and mistaken as genital herpes. But, they are caused by the fungus Candida albicans, and do not usually produce blistering.

Some common symptoms of yeast infections may include:

  • Thick, white, cottage cheese vaginal discharge.
  • Itching, burning and irritation in the vaginal area.
  • Pain during sex or urination.

In male yeast infections, most often there are no symptoms at all. A man can get this condition from his infected female partner through sexual contact.

Yeast infection symptoms are short lived but can be extremely annoying. To treat the condition, an over-the-counter antifungal cream like Fugacil can help.

Related: 7 Top Facts about Yeast Infections, and How to Cure Them

Yeast infections are often mistaken for herpes

Yeast infections

  1. Genital warts (HPV)

Genital warts can also be mistaken for genital herpes. They are usually described as skin bumps on the genital area. Genital warts are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). After exposed to HPV, you may take several weeks to months to develop symptoms below:

  • Bumps that look like warts on the genitals or anus.
  • Itching or burning around the genital area.
  • Pain, bleeding or discomfort during sex or urination.

Genital warts are considered the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US. They are highly contagious and can often share similar symptoms with genital herpes. To treat genital warts, an antiviral cream like Vidarox can be very effective. Moreover, you can ask a doctor for surgery treatment like excision.

Related: What Are Differences Between Genital Herpes and Warts?

Genital warts are often mistaken for genital herpes

Genital warts

  1. Molluscum contagiosum (molluscum)

Like herpes and genital warts, this is a common viral infection of the human skin. Unlike herpes, molluscum usually produces painless and raised bumps on the skin. Common symptoms are bumps that:

  • Are flesh-colored, white, or pink.
  • Are small, shiny, and smooth in appearance.
  • Appear on the face, legs, arms, genitals or inner thighs.

Normally, molluscum can go away without medical intervention. If it causes pain and embarrassment, ask your doctor for surgical treatment.

Molluscum contagiosum is often mistaken for herpes

Molluscum contagiosum

  1. Impetigo

Impetigo is a bacterial skin infection that mostly infects infants and children. It’s often mistaken for herpes because they share symptoms, like:

  • Red, painful sores on the skin.
  • Itching around the affected area.
  • Crusty blisters.

Like herpes, impetigo is highly contagious. It can be spread by touching the sore by hands or sharing affected clothing and towels.

Antibiotics are usually recommended to treat impetigo. To prevent it, keep your skin clean and healthy.

Impetigo is often mistaken for oral herpes


  1. Syphilis

Syphilis is another bacterial skin infection that can be mistaken for herpes. It’s highly contagious and can be spread through sexual activity like oral and anal sex. Unlike herpes, however, syphilis does not usually cause painful blisters. This condition can be treated easily with antibiotics or penicillin.

Related: Oral STDs- What Should You Know About Them

Syphilis is often mistaken for herpes


Moreover, herpes can be mistaken for some other diseases, such as:

  • Insect bites;
  • Pimples;
  • Ingrown hair follicles;
  • Hemorrhoids;
  • Razor burn;
  • Friction from intercourse;
  • Abrasions;
  • Jock itch.

If you think you have herpes, consult your doctor for an official diagnosis. Herpes is an incurable disease. Once you contract the virus, you will always have it. But, there are medications (like Prosurx) that can help prevent or shorten outbreaks. To avoid herpes, take care of your skin and do not have sex until your infection is completely gone.

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