Because of the different stages of a herpes outbreak, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what herpes look like. In the initial stages, herpes can look like whitehead, or a zit, that you would find anywhere else on your body. Embarrassingly enough, the first time I encountered herpes was on my leg, and I thought I had poison oak. I began scratching it to the point where it bled, which just ultimately caused it to spread. In my case, it looked very similar to poison oak. Some cases of this virus look like small paper cuts, and when an outbreak is in full effect it looks like a series of mosquito bites. A herpes breakout starts with an irritating rash on the surface of the skin, and then it turns into larger, zit like blisters. The skin with the issues usually becomes tender at this point, and the blisters begin to grow until they potentially form one large blister. The insides of the blisters can be clear, white, green or yellow, and the overall look of the problem will depend on the person and where the herpes is on his or her body. Once the blister breaks, herpes at that point, looks like an open sore.
When the herpes outbreak starts to heal, the blisters will begin to crust, scab and will begin to look like normal skin again. Depending on how severe the outbreak is, scaring may occur, but generally it will not. The skin that remains underneath the herpes might be a different shade than the rest of the skin, but after healing, it does all look like the same texture at least. Future outbreaks should not look as bad, with less blisters forming and a quicker healing time. Again, that all depends on the severity of your case and the treatments you are undergoing. There’s very little distinction, if any, between what herpes looks like for HSV-1 and HSV-2, they’re just at different parts of the body. If you think you may have herpes, it’s always important and can’t be stressed enough to get tested and talk to your doctor to see what treatment may be right for you.
Here’s two pictures of HSV-1, Oral Herpes from the initial stage, where zit like blisters begin to form to the time when the blister has popped and has scabbed.