Understanding the stages of a genital herpes outbreak is quite important to understanding what is happening to your body. In fact, in some situations, these stages can help you to determine if you may have herpes simplex virus, or HSV. Although every person is somewhat different, you should see an outbreak work through several steps, or stages, over a few days, weeks or longer depending on how severe the outbreak is.

After you experience the warning signs of a genital herpes outbreak, which includes itching, flue like symptoms, pain, discomfort and even a burning sensation, you will then progress through the following stages of the illness.

1. Early Redness: During this initial phase of genital herpes, you will likely see a small area of skin turn red. The skin is often times very sensitive and it may even be painful to touch. Some people have itchy skin, too.

2. Swelling: In the next stage of the genital herpes outbreak, the area may swell slightly. Not everyone will notice this swelling, though, so do not rely on this stage to occur.

3. Small formation of blisters: Blisters form on the sensitive skin. These are often times filled with a fluid (which may be white, clear or even red in color.) The fluid buildup generally occurs quickly after the redness develops. For some, it is just one blister but for others there may be numerous blisters.

4. Wet ulcers: During this next stage of a genital herpes outbreak, there is the development of ulcers or skin lesions. The blisters burst and after they break down, there is the development of red, swollen sores on the skin. This is often the most painful of the stages since these are in fact open cuts on the skin. Sometimes they may be very small while in other instances they can be large and painful.

5. Dry crusting: In the final stage of the herpes outbreak, the sores will form a crust or a scab over the top. This is where there sore is beginning to heal over. The crust will then harden and the sore will dry out. New skin, health and often times unscarred, grows in the area to heal the skin.

genital herpes simplex

It is important to note that the healing of the skin does not mean that the herpes simplex virus is cured. At this point, your body's immune system has been successful at suppressing the virus. This is critical to protecting your skin from further infections. The virus, however, has retreated back deep into the body's tissues until another outbreak occurs.

These stages of a genital herpes outbreak may occur over a short time, even just a few days. In other situations, some stages may last for several days to weeks. The frequency and severity of these outbreaks is very much dependent on the condition itself as well as how well your body is able to fight it. However, there are medications that can treat herpes effectively to reduce the frequency and severity significantly.