Genital herpes a sexually transmitted disease caused by herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, although type 1 most often appears in and around the mouth, while type 2 usually appears on the genitals and anus. Nonetheless, either type can be found in both areas, given that these body parts often come in contact during intercourse. DermNet reports that up to 20 percent of all adults exhibit signs of a herpes simplex type 2 infection. Herpes is incurable, but associated outbreaks are periodic, while the virus itself can lay dormant for years, thoguh it remains contagious. Because of its telltale sores, it's relatively easy to recognize the signs of herpes on the head of a penis.
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Look at the head of the penis to identify small red bumps just following a period of itching or pain in the area. These bumps can appear like large or small patches similar to acne, round sores akin to canker sores or red patches with raised white pustules, among other manifestations. Search online for photographs of genital herpes outbreaks for visual aid and a source for comparison.
Determine whether any bumps found have opened to become painful sores. Gently apply pressure with your fingertip to any bumps that appear like lesions or sores to check for pain. Observe whether any open sores are leaking, as lesions resulting from herpes often leak pus or blood.
Look within the opening of the head of the penis to determine whether similar bumps or sores appear within the urethra, as they often do, causing acutely painful urination.
Scrutinize the rest of the penis and genital area for further bumps or sores. Herpes is highly contagious, requiring only unbuffered physical contact with sores of someone experiencing a herpes "breakout" or through unprotected coitus, despite whether an infected sexual partner is experiencing a breakout. Herpes thus spreads over an area quickly and rather comprehensively, often covering an entire area.