Get up to 40% Off on Select Immune Products 90-Day Supply Get up to 40% Off on Select Immune Products 90-Day Supply


Stages of Herpes That You Should Know About

stages of herpes

Story at-a-glance -

  • In general, herpes symptoms don’t appear all at once. They may manifest at certain points, usually a few days or even weeks after exposure to the virus
  • Oral herpes typically progresses in three stages: primacy infection, latency and recurrence
  • Genital herpes has four known stages

It is important to know that herpes, whether oral or genital, does not strike all at once. There is a progression — at one point you may not feel pain yet, but as the days or weeks go by, more symptoms may become visible.

Distinguishing herpes symptoms is important, but knowing the stage of your infection can be greatly helpful. Not only does it give you a perspective on how the infection is affecting your body, but detecting herpes as early as possible allows you to address it immediately without increasing your risk for complications.

Stages of Oral Herpes

Oral herpes is mainly caused by the HSV-1 virus.1 According to WebMD, this disease can be divided into three stages:2

  1. Primary Infection — The herpes virus comes into contact with your skin or mucous membranes, where it reproduces. You may notice indicators like cold sores and fever, although it’s possible for the infection to be asymptomatic, meaning no symptoms appear at all.
  2. Latency — After the infection subsides, the herpes virus moves into your dorsal root ganglion, or a group of nervous tissues found in your spine. At this point, the pathogen makes duplicates of itself in the ganglion tissues and remains inactive for some amount of time.
  3. Recurrence — The herpes virus may be triggered at an unknown time because of factors like emotional or physical stresses, menstruation, physical injuries, surgery,3 viral infections or fatigue.4 Once the virus is reactivated, you may develop herpes symptoms again.

Stages of Genital Herpes

Genital herpes, which can be caused by the HSV-2 virus,5 can manifest in these stages:

1. Primary herpes genitalis — The herpes virus can start infecting your body and triggering symptoms like intense pain, lesions on mucous membranes, fever and genital problems in men and women. At this stage, indicators may last up to three weeks.6

2. Latent herpes genitalis — The herpes virus goes to the peripheral neurons and remains there until a trigger reactivates it and causes another infection.7

3. Shedding herpes genitalis — At this point, the virus “sheds” from your body without you noticing and can be transmitted via sexual intercourse. According to Medscape, the shedding process happens in 20% to 40% days within the first six months after the initial herpes infection. However, if you’re dealing with a longer infection, the virus can shed on 5% to 20% of days.8

4. Recurrent herpes genitalis — This happens once the herpes virus is reactivated due to factors like stress, fevers, UV light, menstruation and trauma. People dealing with recurrent herpes genitalis struggle with lesions on the skin and mucous membranes, and also experience “neuralgic symptoms, dysaesthesia or lumbosacral dermatome pain [one to two] days” before the mentioned indicators appear.

However, as authors of this 2016 Geburtshilfe und Frauenheilkunde article point out, the symptoms that develop at this stage tend to last for a shorter period of time and are considered less severe.9


Herpes: Introduction

What Is Herpes?

Herpes Types

Herpes Causes

Herpes Stages

Herpes Symptoms

Herpes Prevention

Herpes Diagnosis

Herpes Treatment

Living With Herpes

Herpes FAQ

< Previous

Herpes Causes

Next >

Herpes Symptoms