While genital herpes or an HSV-2 infection may be more common in women, this is because it is easier for an infected male to transmit the disease to female partners than it is for a female to give the disease to any male. The Center for Disease Control Statistics show that in the age group of 14 to 49 years old, one out of five women and one out of nine men have genital herpes.
To see the CDC fact sheet on genital herpes see here.
For oral herpes the statistics show that as many as 80% of the adult population in the United States may have oral herpes or HSV-1.
Oral Herpes in Men
Herpes simplex 1 or HSV-1 is commonly called oral herpes. The physical symptoms of this viral infection are often referred to as cold sores or fever blisters. In men and women these sores will often occur on or around the mouth. There is also a form of this disease called oral-facial herpes in which the blisters or sores will show up in clusters on the chin, cheek, or even in or around the nose.
Men can mistake the early stages of oral herpes for a pimple, razor burn, a small crack at the side of the mouth, or a bug bite. The sores can be an itchy or tingly red bump. They can look like small white sores or blisters. If you or your partner has open oral herpes sores around or in their mouth, oral herpes can be transferred to the genital area during oral sex.
Typically oral herpes symptoms will start as an aching pain or burning in the lip area. Men with oral herpes may also have swollen throat glands or swelling in other lymph glands. They can also experience a low grade fever or a sore throat.
In the beginning men may have oral herpes that looks like one single cold sore or a cluster of blisters with red and swollen skin surrounding the breakout area. Once they’ve appeared the sores will generally break open within a few days, leak a clear fluid, and then scab over. They will generally heal and disappear within about ten days. Oral herpes will go through dormant periods and then reappear at any time.
Stress, illness, or overexposure to sun can precipitate a flare up of oral herpes. Many men who have oral herpes have such mild symptoms that they don’t realize they have this viral illness.
Oral herpes is highly contagious during an outbreak. It can be transferred to anyone by kissing or coming into contact with someone who is infected. Many children get oral herpes from a quick and casual kiss from an infected relative.
Genital Herpes in Men
Herpes simplex 2 or HSV-2 is commonly called genital herpes. On men this type of herpes has physical symptoms that will often show up as small groups of blisters on their penis or scrotum. The small sores may also form on the anus, urethra, buttocks, thighs, and if you participated in oral sex with an infected person during an outbreak, you can get genital herpes sores around the mouth area.
Typically the small blisters will pop, leak a clear fluid and then form a scab a few days after they appear. Once the sores have scabbed over it will generally take them about ten days to heal completely.
Estimates are that over 90% of the men and women who have the viral infection known as genital herpes, don’t realize that they have the disease. Men will often mistake the symptoms for razor burn, pimples or ingrown hairs, bug bites, and even jock itch.
There are many signs and symptoms that can indicate that you have genital herpes, these include:
- Itchy or tingly feeling in the genital area
- Feeling like you might be coming down with the flu
- Pain or burning during urination
- Pain or burning sensation around the buttocks and anus
- Raw or burning sensation on the skin that may feel as if you had rug burn, or like you have a slight sunburn around the genitals and buttocks.
- Depression and irritability
- Muscle aches
- Tender or swollen lymph nodes around the genital area
The tingling or slight burning sensation in the skin can serve as an early warning sign that you are about to have an outbreak. You can start antiviral medication at this time to minimize the effects of the flare-up and to help you heal faster.
While there is no cure for herpes in men or women, there are things you can do to minimize the effect of the disease on your life and that will help you heal faster, keeping outbreaks to a minimum. Talk to your doctor about your herpes symptoms if you haven’t been diagnosed. The diagnosis will allow the doctor to prescribe anti-viral treatments that may help you minimize the symptoms of the disease and the frequency of outbreaks by as much as fifty percent.
Remember that both oral and genital herpes are highly contagious with skin-to-skin contact. Treating the disease properly will minimize the risk of passing this disease to someone else.