Is It Herpes or Ingrown Hair?

It is easy to confuse herpes lesions with ingrown hair or effects of shaving around the genitals. However, ingrown hair causes harmless skin irritations that should not be a cause for alarm while genital herpes is highly infectious. It is often contracted through sexual relations and intimate activities. This is a worrying condition that spreads from person to person. How to tell them apart?

Herpes or Ingrown Hair: What're the Differences?

Often, ingrown hair looks like genital herpes when it is not. In fact, medical experts find it hard to diagnose herpes without proper medical tests. Herpes lesions are often defined by the watery clusters of sores caused by the HSV-2. These resemble the ingrown hair sores making it difficult to detect the difference by simply looking at the sores. Blood testing and the use of a culture sample in Polymerase Chain Reaction are the two methods used to diagnose herpes.



Treatment options




Herpes is caused by the Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes Simplex 2 (HSV-2) viruses. The HSV-2 is the most common cause and is spread through the genitalia to genitalia transmission. It often causes cold sores. HSV-1 is referred to as oral herpes spread through the mouth or oral sex.

These viruses can remain in the nervous system for years without being detected. Both types of HSV viruses are common and more than 50% of the US population is infected.

An oral antiviral medication is the recommended treatment for genital herpes.

A daily dose of oral antiviral curbs the spread of the HSV-2 virus.

To prevent herpes infection, safe sex is advised. For example, the use of condoms, and sexual abstinence in case of infection is ideal.

Ingrown Hair



Ingrown hair heals quickly, mostly within a short time.

According to the Weill Cornel Medical College, African Americans with curly hair are vulnerable to ingrown hair effects.

Ingrown hair is caused by skin inflammation, and it occurs when the hair starts to grow from the skin.

The effect is pronounced as a result of shaving frequently and closely. It is also caused by wearing tight clothes that affect the skin.

The Mayo Clinic experts recommend

shaving in the direction of hair growth.

It is also advisable to use a moisturizer before shaving.

Shaving the same area repeatedly also exposes the skin to irritation, and hence should be avoided. Instead of using crude methods of removing hair, simply

let it grow or use an electrolysis method as a better alternative to removing unwanted hair.

How to Tell Herpes from Ingrown Hair

Herpes and ingrown hair look alike, but they represent two different conditions. A herpes lesion often fades without any medical attention. However, it will reoccur in phases; probably after 4 weeks. It takes long to recognize herpes because it comes about in stages. This is different from an ingrown hair reaction that arises when hair is growing. Usually, it remains in the same or even worse state, and disappears if the ingrown hair is removed. In order to self examine a blister for herpes or ingrown hair symptoms, you need a simple process. Get a towel, magnifying mirror and cotton ball or gauze and follow the procedure outlined below:

1. Wash your hands thoroughly

Since herpes is similar to other conditions like ingrown hair, it is advisable that you scrutinize it carefully. Wash your hands well with soap and position yourself for a close view. To have a good look, stand in a comfortable position that enables you to clearly look at the exposed lesion.

2. Use a magnifying mirror

Carefully examine the appearance of the blister. If it is an ingrown hair, you will notice a hair or a dark shadow like line. Ingrown hairs curl backwards or even sideways into the skin. When you look keenly, you will see a dark line. A herpes lesion will not have hair and you can examine it further by using a magnifying mirror. Ensure that you do not touch it in the process of viewing it as it is an infectious blister.

3. Observe the lesions carefully

The American Family Physician notes that the Herpes lesion is smaller and is about 1-2mm. In an October 15th 2005 article, the magazine states that the herpes blisters are clear, cloudy and yellow. This is different from an ingrown hair pimple, which protrudes outside and is covered with dead scaly skin. A herpes lesion exhibits the shape of blister with a dimple in the middle. It is, therefore, pretty easy to tell the two apart, and you can take the most appropriate measures.

4. Gently touch the lesions

In case you fail to see any hair in the blister, try touching it gently. It is important that you use a cotton ball or gauze to examine the blister. This is because the herpes blisters rapture easily and the fluid released from the swelling is highly infectious. Therefore, in case it bursts, take note of the yellow fluid discharged. This liquid color is a sign of a herpes infection. If the puss is solid, white, and waxy, this could be an ingrown hair pimple. So now you know it's herpes or ingrown hair, right?

5. Clean up

Once you are done with the cotton balls and gauze, dispose them off safely. Wash your hands thoroughly after this. Clean all the tools used and any surfaces you touched in the process. This is very important. Also, consider using a disinfectant for a complete and thorough cleaning process after the examination.

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