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Admittedly I'm a bit of a worrier, and while I've gotten better lately at being able to discern when common place foliculitis is assuredly not herpes, and while I also know that some things probably should be looked to be sure, I want to eliminate some of the middle ground before I worry myself to death over what is so far nothing.

A few months back, I got a somewhat alarming skin rash (or a bunch of red bumps on the upper left area of my groin area). Now mind you, they did not itch, tingle or hurt like a herpes rash is said to be, and the pattern they were clustered it did make it appear to be follicle based, however it still was a cluster nonetheless, plus they were not going away or healing as quick as foliculitis, plus they seemed more pronounced than usual. I also got the flu, or, well, "flu-like symptoms" right around when it showed up (it was just the beginning of flu season though so I could have just had that, but the coincidence did seem a bit alarming). I went in and had a doctor look at them, and while most of the time they will say it's nothing, this time I got a "most likely nothing...", but it was enough to "inspire" him to not only test for HSV2, but shingles as well. He rapidly rubbed a cue tip over it, likely re-irritating it as well, to get a culture of it to test.

Anyway, the test did come back negative, but my mind was not put at ease.

I guess for this situation, and in general, I would like to better know when something likely isn't herpes as far as visible manifestations go, barring getting a test. Since after all, I can't very well get tested every time I have a skin rash. Basically, it would be nice to have at least a few key markers, where I could at least say "well if it doesn't do that" or "it doesn't look like that" then "it probably is nothing."

For instance in this case, I imagined that without any immense pain, itching, tingling or burning that it was highly unlikely it would be herpes, but who knows.

I suppose I would like to know what the most common factors that most herpes outbreaks have, that would help one distinguish the difference between that, and any old rash or foliculitis.

If anyone could help me with this and put my mind at ease a little it would be greatly appreciated, and probably help me stress out about it a little less than I do.


The best way is to get it tested in the laboratory. Herpes will probably be a lot more painful, and can be accompanied by a slight fever. It usually shows up as a blister though, and not really pus filled. Herpes is a common skin disease that appears on the face and the genitals. It may be quite difficult for the casual onlooker to judge whether or not one has genital herpes, until & unless it is your sex partner. Herpes is a group of viral diseases that has become very common and is caused by the virus known as Herpes Virus. The two most common types of virus are the Simplex that causes genital and the oral herpes, and the Zoster virus that causes shingles and chickenpox. As this disease has become a very common problem, it is very necessary to know how it looks. Herpes is often confused with pimples or acne as herpes may manifest itself as a pimple, or a hair follicle that is blocked. Once it manifests itself completely it is easy to differentiate. Usually, pimples are small elevations in the skin like bumps and are approximately 1-3 mm diameter. Sometimes they may be just simple elevations and sometimes they may be filled with pus that could be either white or yellow. If the pus is filled with yellow discharge, then it means that the pus is infected with bacterial infection. If it is simple pus, then it may dry off without leaving any scars behind. Genital herpes lesions will usually appear in numbers. In men the lesions may look like ulcers (open sores). Typically the lesions begin as blisters that erupt, become ulcers and often heal in 5 to 7 days. I hope this will help you.


I just wanted to respond. I have herpes and this it exactly what it feels like:

First the area itches a little.
Then a day or so later it will have a slight tingle to it.
Then the area becomes an achy and soreness. Then an acutal sore appears.
Herpes are cluster like bumps which eventually become open ulcerations if left untreated. They heal without a scar.
The first or primary infection can last 3 weeks and be bad or be mild depending on how much of the virus you were infected with.
I also experienced tender lymph glands in the groin area during the very first infection and sometimes during subsequent outbreaks.
The first outbreak is always the worst.
A "culture" taken from the sore may not help identify it. You can get a blood test for HSV1 and HSV2 antibodies. If you have genital herpes, then you will show antibodies-probably a high amount. I believe this is the only real way to tell.

DO NOT TOUCH THE AREA WHILE YOU HAVE A SORE-you can spread it to another area of your skin. Leave it alone. If it is herpes it's not the end of the world. Some people only ever have one outbreak. Some people have a few per year. I had one about every 2 weeks but you can take Valtrex (which will prevent all outbreaks even in the toughest cases like mine) and it has the added benefit of making your facial skin clear, soft and super healthy looking.


Thank you, this did help quite a bit. I mean, I still don't really know what an "ulcer" or "lesion" looks like unfortunately, but I just wanted to make sure that I could at least not always thing something as obviously different in the end as a pimple or general infected hair follicule (of which I often get because I am a little hairy and I do groom and buzz frequently).

I guess I know that it isn't always garunteed to manifest itself with all the same symptoms, but I wanted to be sure there were a few key ones that if I say, didn't have, then what I have is likely not a herpes outbreak.

To be honest, between a girl who's generally pretty cautious, and even a doctor saying it was nothing (and taking a culture), I probably am fine, I was just bothered by the more than usual pronounced nature of the bumps (they were clustered, but I suppose the pattern did look follicule based), and the fact that I did have what was in all likelyhood the flu, but seemed very conveniently timed with the rash (although you are saying it is just a mild fever, and I was shivering and throwing up and overall pretty sick for days, so maybe it was more like the flu than this "flu-like' symptom is).

Also I often hear mention of this tingling, that certainly has not happened, not that my skin has never tingled, but I suppose it's good that if I am not familiar with these symptoms, it's likely I have never gotten them.

Also, Jnell, thank you for telling me how it happens for you. I realize it isn't the end of the world, but it will greatly affect my life in terms of my already difficult ability to meet sexual partners (well, it's difficult in general for people in the end), and the possibility of what it would mean for my relationship with my current partners. Basically let's put it another way, I dont want to have to tell every potential sexual partner I have a communicable disease like that before every potential encounter, it really does take the spontenaety out of things :P .

Also, I did go and see my doctor again recently, and he actually thinks getting a skin sample is more accurate than a blood test, which is rife with false positives and negatives.

But anyway, with a lack of any intense pain, a smaller pimple like set of bumps with no real blister or ulser looking type thing and no tingle, it sounds like I was fine.

I really do hope they invent a vaccine for herpes someday though, then all I need to worry about is HIV, and a condom seems to do a much better job of protecting from that during sexual intercourse at least.

P.s. I made this account after I made the post, in case it isn't obvious, I am the guy who made the post.


Ok, so I am still a little concerned, although aprils post did help me put my mind at ease, however it did just occur to me that I also had lower back pains due to this mysterious flu (I had thought it was neck but now I remember my lower back hurting for a day or two). Again, as usual it could have been nothing, perhaps just because I am worrying things stand out more as possible symptoms over just a bad flu and some rather irritated pimples/hair follicles that took a while to heal. Aprils differentiation of a pimple to an "ulcer" and assuring me that once it's fully manifested it is unlikely to be mistaken made me feel better, and again, there was really no pain, they didn't hurt....they, again, just seemed like pimples, i figured this was a large indication that they were nothing.

Anyway, I DID take pictures, and so I figured, why not share those, and people can just see for themselves, perhaps someone could indeed take one look at it and say 'yeah, I can see where you would be concerned, especially with having the flu at the same time, but that really isn't herpes". Also, my fever was not mild, in fact I remember it being 104 or so for a few nights, I imagine the "flu-like" symptoms are usually not as intense as a real flu? knowing that could help too.

Anyway, here are the images:

Sorry for the shoddy photography, I took them on my phone.

I also would like to point out again I did have a skin culture taken and it came back negative (blood tests were not reccomended as being nearly as reliable, especially when you have a manifestation to test). But all the other things that happened around then (flu-like symptoms, lower back, pain rash seemed a bit more pronounced and long lasting than the usual foliculitis) were still making me worried.