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Herpes Diagnosis: The Truth About Diagnosing Herpes Accurately

Updated on December 3, 2018

Herpes Diagnosis: Why Is It Important?

An accurate herpes diagnosis is important for several reasons. First, most people will try to perform a self diagnosis and since herpes sores often resemble other skin conditions such as pimples, they will often overlook or dismiss their symptoms as nothing serious. This can be both emotionally and fiscally costly and irresponsible. Secondly, an inaccurate diagnosis can lead people into a false sense of security. They may have been told that they were negative but could actually have herpes. This was especially true many years ago when herpes testing was not very accurate. This could also be the opposite as well. There are people who have been diagnosed with herpes but actually do not have the virus. Can you imagine the ramifications with either herpes simplex diagnosis?

This is why efficient herpes treatments depend on proper mechanisms for diagnosing HSV-2.

Genital herpes outbreaks can look like anything from puss filled sores, to small open blisters. They can occur in any location from below the waist to just above the knees. They typically appear inside the vagina, on the scrotum, pelvis, the inner thigh, buttocks or lower back. HSV-2 is asymptomatic, though viral shedding of the virus may still occur when no symptoms are present. After initial infection, the viruses move to sensory nerves, where they reside as life-long, latent viruses. This means that Genital Herpes is a contagious lifelong disease.

Herpes Picture
Herpes Picture

Herpes Testing Options for a Herpes Diagnosis

A herpes diagnosis is typically performed by a doctor who will either take a blood or a fluid sample from a suspected herpes sore. Some doctors are able to provide a diagnosis visually but keep in mind that a study conducted by the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that as many as 20% of skilled medical doctors failed to accurately diagnose herpes just by a visual exam alone. If your doctor gives you a positive diagnosis simply by conducting a visual exam then request that a viral culture or herpes blood test be administered to confirm the diagnoses.

Diagnosing genital herpes symptoms after the primary episode has healed is not an easy task. Because the virus will leave the surface of the skin and return to your body's nerve endings, obtaining a viral culture from an inactive or healed sore may be hard to obtain if not impossible.

There are several herpes testing options available to someone interested in diagnosing herpes.

  1. A Physical Exam - Least reliable method
  2. Viral Culture - Most reliable "positive" result. Not reliable if herpes sores are not present or have healed.
  3. Herpes Blood Test - Very reliable if it has been at least six weeks since you have been exposed to the virus. Can be done when no symptoms are present.


Genital herpes affects at least 20% of the population at some point during their lives. This means that most people already know one or more people with herpes or they may even have it themselves. .

A positive test result for herpes may be very difficult for someone to accept. Due to the staggering stigma surrounding the herpes virus, many people often experience feeling of depression. But diagnosing genital herpes is the first step on the road to treatment and recovery. An accurate herpes diagnoses will begin your journey of taking control of the virus and your health. It will help you to get your old life back again. The virus can be managed to reduce outbreaks and prevent transmitting the disease to your partner.


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