Early Symptoms of Herpes in Men

Herpes is a common illness that affects the oral and genital regions in men 1. The herpes simplex virus is often spread through sexual contact, and the condition often goes unrecognized and undiagnosed, according to the American Social Health Association 2. This can be caused by the mildness of the herpes outbreak or by misattributing the signs of herpes to some other ailment. Symptoms of herpes in men are the same as they are in women with the exception of the location of the blisters.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

No Symptoms

Some men experience a brief period where no symptoms of herpes exist and others may not ever have symptoms of the infection. This is called asymptomatic herpes. The period of time from initial infection to the first outbreak can vary significantly from one person to another depending on the man's immune system response. The first outbreak, if one is going to occur, tends to appear within one or two weeks following infection states the University of Maryland Medical Center 3. It is impossible to know what will trigger the virus to wake and create the characteristic symptoms of herpes, but this can occur at any time after the virus has entered the body. Following the first outbreak a man may have frequent outbreaks with a short break in between, he may go long spans of time between outbreaks or he may never have another outbreak. Despite a lack of symptoms, a man can still infect others with the virus states the American Social Health Association 2.

Skin Sensations

A variety of skin sensations appear during the early phase of the herpes infection. These sensations affects the lips, oral mucus membranes, buttocks, thighs and genitals states the American Social Health Association 2. Such sensations are called prodrome signs, or warning signs of the outbreak. Tingling, redness, burning, itching and pain are all possible prodrome symptoms of herpes in men.

Flu-Like Discomfort

About 40 percent of men develop flu-like symptoms with a herpes outbreak according to the University of Maryland Medical Center 3. This can include headache, muscle aches, fever and swollen glands. The glands that swell tend to be in the groin or neck area depending on whether the man has genital or oral herpes 1. Glandular swelling can vary from one man to another and from one outbreak to another with the most likely result being swelling closest to the site of infection. Flu-like symptoms can occur right before the blisters appear or after one crop has developed and a second is about to form.


Prodrome symptoms are followed by the development of small, fluid-filled blisters. These blisters will eventually burst, ooze pus or blood and scab over. The initial outbreak can take about three weeks from warning signs to healing states the University of Maryland Medical Center 3. Recurring outbreaks may take as few as three to seven days.