Many people have genital herpes but don't know it because they have no symptoms. Others have very mild symptoms and may not even know they are caused by herpes. The typical symptoms of herpes are blisters or open sores that occur around the genital area. These sores can be painful and last up to 2-3 weeks, first "weeping", then scabbing over, and then healing. This is sometimes referred to as “having an outbreak”.
1. Initial episode
The first outbreak is usually the worst; it lasts the longest, is most severe, and can be very uncomfortable. In addition to blisters or open sores, you may have swollen glands, fever, and body aches.
2. Repeat episodes
Usually recurrences are more frequent in the first year after the initial outbreak. These episodes tend to be milder and shorter in length than the initial episode of herpes. Recurrences tend to become less severe, last a shorter time, and occur less often over time. Repeat outbreaks are more common in HSV-2 than in HSV-1.
You may have tingling or itching at the site of the sores before they appear which can help you prepare for an upcoming outbreak. For some people, the recurrences are so mild that they have been mistaken for jock itch, razor burn, insect bites, or ingrown hairs. Genital recurrences after the first outbreak seem to be linked to stress, tiredness, lack of sleep, menstruation, and genital friction (new sexual partner after a time of no sex).