There are usually 8 stages of a Herpes outbreak. Some will last around a week or two, while some will only last for a few days.
How long does an episode of Herpes last for?
A genital herpes outbreak will usually last somewhere between 5-14 days. Cold sore outbreaks often resolve themselves quicker than this.
It is not unheard of for a genital herpes outbreak to last for several weeks, but this is not the ‘norm’. Outbreaks tend to be persistent like this only during the first primary outbreak or if a person’s immune system is abnormally poor/weak.
Stages of a Herpes outbreak
Stage One – Prodrome (Warning Symptoms before an outbreak appears)
The affected area may tingle, become warm and painful to touch.
Stage Two – Macule (Redness)
Erythema or redness starts to develop in the area as the body reacts to the herpes virus.
Stage Three – Papules (Throbbing Bumps)
Small bumps begin to form that are red and sometimes painful.
Stage Four – Vesicles (Cluster of Little Blisters)
Bumps often progress into clear fluid filled blisters.
Stage Five – Pustules (Weeping Blisters)
The blisters burst open and weep a yellowish, pus-like fluid.
Stage Six – Crusting (Healing Begins)
A crusting begins to form over the lesion. This is a sign of healing. In moist areas the ulcer will simply close over and heal without forming any crust.
Stage Seven – Scab (Healing is Established)
The crust becomes hardened and forms into a scab which is itchy and sometimes red. The itching is a positive sign that the wound is healing. Allow the scab to heal for the best chance of having the skin heal back perfectly.
Stage Eight – New Skin (Virus Retreated)
There is no more pain in the area. The scab falls off and leaves clear, new skin.
Provided the scab was not been interfered with, the area will usually heal perfectly without any scarring.
The area may occasionally appear slightly pale in color for a period of time after the outbreak has healed. Markings like this are generally more likely to happen in moist areas where a scab does not formed, or if a scab has been removed prematurely. Vitamin E oil or Aloe Vera applied morning and night may help regenerate the skin in the area.