Why Does Herpes Often Appear as Symptomless


Those infected with HSV-1 or HSV-2 often do not show any symptoms. Asymptomatic is when the infection does not show symptoms. Asymptomatic carriers are those infected but show no symptoms. Carriers can still give the infection to others without knowing they are infected.

Sometimes initial outbreak symptoms are so mild that it can go unnoticed or confused for another skin condition.

Mild Symptoms that May Appear Symptomless

HSV-1, or oral herpes, outbreaks occur as sores around or inside the mouth and lips. They are commonly known as “cold sores.” Contrary to popular belief, HSV-1 causes cold sores. Not the common cold. They are 2 completely different viruses. They are also not the same as canker sores.

Canker sores are stress or tissue related injuries to the mouth. Canker sores are not virus related. They are also not contagious.Since both resemble painful sores in the mouth area, many people confuse the severity of the two. This confusion may lead to discounting the severity of cold sores.

Similarly, when HSV-2, or genital herpes, does show symptoms, they are easily unnoticed. Sores, or ulcers, can appear in the genital area. Sometimes they appear in places that are not easy to see, such as inside a woman’s vagina or on the underside of a man’s scrotum. Consequently, outbreaks may occur without a person knowing. This leads to potential asymptomatic manifestations of the infection.

Fevers, body aches, and swollen lymph nodes can also herald an outbreak. But these symptoms are like an onset of the common cold or other similar illness, so they often are ignored or remain unreported.

Final Thoughts

Though HSV-1 and HSV-2 are often asymptomatic, sometimes the symptoms are so mild they only appear symptomless.