By: Trevor Price

There are five major stages of herpes. If a genital herpes outbreak occurs or isn't treated, then sores will often begin to develop on the affected area.

To learn more about the various stages of herpes sore development, along with information on healing after an outbreak and how to avoid spreading the disease, keep reading.

The Five Stages of Herpes

Early Redness

When an outbreak of genital herpes begins to occur, it typically starts with redness and irritation on a small part of the skin. The affected area could be itchy, painful or very sensitive to the touch - almost like a "hot spot."

Swelling of the Affected Area

The area will begin to swell and, depending on the individual, this swelling may or may not be immediately noticeable.

Small Blisters

Typically, with a genital herpes outbreak, small blisters will begin to appear. They will be filled with either red, clear or whitish fluid and will form over the area that was previously affected by swelling and redness. They may manifest as a single or multiple blisters.

Wet Ulcers

Wet ulcers are one of the most painful stages of herpes. They are what happens when herpes blisters burst or break. Once the blisters are drained, the individual is left with open sores that are raw, tender and very sensitive.

Dry Crusting or Scabbing

As the wet ulcers start to heal, dry crusts or scabs will begin to form. As the scab hardens, new skin will grow under it. Eventually, the scab will fall off.

The End of Healing

A herpes outbreak is considered complete once the scabs fall off and healthy skin is revealed. That said, the affected area may still appear red, but it's no longer sensitive.

The Spread of Herpes

Even though your herpes outbreak may be over and done with, you can still spread the disease. When an outbreak isn't present, this is called the asymptomatic phase, which means there are no symptoms. However, the disease is still present and though the risk is small, it can still be spread.

Herpes can't be cured. Though there are drugs to limit the incidence of outbreaks and prevent contraction, it's critical that you provide protection from contracting the disease. If you have herpes, you should always use not only condoms, but also latex barriers such as dams even if you're not experiencing symptoms. You should also avoid sexual activity when experiencing an outbreak.

Remember, even if the various stages of herpes aren't occurring and you have no symptoms, you can still spread the disease.

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