034: #askalexandra Does Everyone Have The Same Herpes Symptoms?

Ask, Answer and Get The Facts About Herpes

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Life With Herpes Podcast

Welcome to episode 34 of Life With Herpes, thanks for spending your time listening to the show! Today is another of my favorite favorites: the #askalexandra episodes. I love hearing from you and finding out where you are from and hearing what questions you have.


Want to send in your own questions? Send them to me on the LifeWithHerpes web site at the bottom of first page. You'll see the #AskAlexandra section, just click that link and fill out the Google form. Remember you can remain anonymous if you want.


Today’s question comes from Jeff in Portland. He sent in another good one: he wants to know if everyone has the same herpes symptoms? Check out the answer with me on episode 34 of Life With Herpes


More About Life With Herpes


Thank you Jeff for this terrific question about whether or not everyone has the same herpes symptoms. The quick answer is no. And that’s because we are all different people, and we have different symptoms. Think about it like this: if we get a cold we often have different symptoms from someone else with a cold. A herpes outbreak works much the same way.

And that is compounded by the fact that a lot of people are asymptomatic, meaning they don't show symptoms but they carry the herpes virus. The virus lies dormant in their nervous system for however long, and they don't show symptoms during that time.


For example, I am asymptomatic for HSV-1. I haven't had an outbreak in 14 years, but I am symptomatic for genital herpes and get outbreaks. But I can spread both; anyone who has one or both strains of the virus can spread HSV-1 and HSV-2, whether or not they have any symptoms.

Tweetable:  “A lot of people are asymptomatic, but they still carry the virus.” -  Alexandra Harbushka


Now what happens from the start of an outbreak to its completion is what is really different from person to person. The symptoms are similar in men and women but the way the virus attacks one person’s body will be different than how it attacks your body.

Some of the signs that an outbreak is on its way are tingling, itching, swelling, and a hot feeling in that area.

A precursor and/or a trigger to an outbreak might be extreme fatigue, I know that is true for me. There are other triggers for other people: it may be something in their diet for example. I have friends who cannot eat peanuts without having an outbreak.


So once the outbreak is triggered, the next step is a blister or a cluster of blisters. The virus turns into a blister and as that blister goes through its cycle it may open up, which can be very painful. If you touch the blister or if there is any type of liquid that comes out, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and don't touch anyone else or any other body part until your hands are completely clean.


The next and final stage of a herpes blister and outbreak is a scab which forms over the blister. It can itch at this point as it heals.


Some people may not get blisters, they may notice the triggers and the symptoms of an outbreak and take an antiviral or do other forms of self-care in time to stop blisters from forming.

And still other people may not even notice their triggers or symptoms and they go into full-on blister mode.

As far as how long the outbreak will last that is different from person to person, too.

If you take extra care of yourself during an outbreak you may be able to shorten it to a few days, or it may last for a few weeks.


This was an awesome question Jeff, thank you! And thanks to all of you for being a part of episode 34 of Life With Herpes.

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