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Other Skin Conditions That Look Like Genital Herpes Symptoms in Men

Updated on June 22, 2015

Genital herpes symptoms in men are sometimes hard to identify for a doctor (not to mention the average patient) due to a wide range of factors. The main reason is that certain symptoms of herpes resemble those of other skin conditions and diseases. Because every infected man's immune system experiences different levels of success in fighting off the HSV-2 virus, one individual might display swollen clusters of fluid-filled blisters (the most easily identifiable symptom of a herpes outbreak) shortly after becoming infected, while another develops something resembling the type of run-of-the-mill skin irritation that can be caused by several different conditions.

The following genital herpes symptoms in men appear during outbreaks and may resemble other sexually-transmitted diseases and skin conditions:

Formation of Blisters

The appearance of small clusters of painful blisters around the groin area, or on the male genitalia itself, is usually considered to be the primary visual indicator of herpes in men. While this belief is not entirely unfounded, it is also not entirely accurate because blisters in the groin area are also associated with non-sexually transmitted skin conditions such as impetigo and eczema, as well as the STDs candidiasis (yeast infection) and syphilis. Incidences where impetigo or eczema appear on the genitals and groin are extremely uncommon, but have been reported. This is not true of syphilis and candidiasis, however, and it is because of this fact that blisters from both of those diseases are often mistaken for genital herpes sores.

Sores and Ulcers

Like the other diseases and skin conditions discussed in the previous section, herpes blisters will eventually rupture—leaving sores and ulcers resembling those caused by other diseases in their wake. Further complicating matters, these lesions are also sometimes mistaken for the lesions that result from picking at acne pimples, or repeatedly rubbing and scratching rashes and other skin problems related to allergies. Yet another painful skin disease that can cause inflammation and ulceration of tissue is lichen sclerosis, which also causes uclers and sores similar to those seen in the aftermath of a genital herpes outbreak.

Irritated, Swollen Patches of Skin

Probably the most frequently misdiagnosed symptom, inflamed, reddened areas of tissue on the genitals and around the groin can be signs of a herpes outbreak. However, they can also simply be an indication of any one of many skin conditions caused by internal and external agents. Lichen sclerosis, candidiasis, eczema, and impetigo are sometimes to blame for this condition, as are several other diseases and a handful of relatively harmless culprits (e.g., the type of skin chafing resulting from overly-restrictive underwear).

When all is said and done, this article offers an overview of several genital herpes symptoms in men that resemble other skin conditions, but it is important to acknowledge that an accurate diagnosis can only be given by a trained health care professional. As is the case with other genital herpes issues, only by submitting to an examination and receiving an accurate diagnosis can one be certain that he is infected with the virus. And the correct diagnosis is important because it is the first step toward receiving treatment.


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