ZocdocAnswersHow do whiteheads and herpes differ?

Question

How do whiteheads and herpes differ?

How do you tell the difference between herpes bumps and normal whiteheads? I know that I have had whiteheads on my genitals before, but now I'm sure I was exposed to herpes and I'm trying to figure out about the bumps on my penis. What does a herpes bump look like? Does it have a head?

Answer

Whiteheads are caused when skin debris clogs a pore, allowing skin oils, bacteria, and white blood cells to build up. This leads to a bump on the skin with a white tip which may or may not be painful depending on how inflamed it is. Herpes lesions on the genitals, which are caused by the herpes virus, look different. They should appear as round spots with initially fluid filled blisters on a red base. Once the blister ruptures they will look a bit like little ulcers which should be quite distinct from the way whiteheads appear. They can be quite painful or even have a burning sensation. If you suspect you have herpes you should avoid sexual contact while you have unhealed lesions and you should talk to your doctor about whether medications should be taken. As always the diagnosis and the management of your particular concern will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Setting up an office visit with your primary care doctor is advised.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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