The stages of herpes that develop physically for those who have the condition are, for the most part, the same for all people. The HSV-1 virus and the HSV-2 virus vary slightly in their manifestation areas, but for the most part, even the two different strains of the virus develop identically. This results in the physical characteristics of both oral and genital herpes outbreaks being essentially the same.
The early stages of herpes are characterized by redness in the area that first came in contact with the virus. As the redness begins to settle in the area, a pain or itch may develop. In some cases, the area will begin to swell. The swelling can range from being practically unnoticeable, to very severe.
It is important to be mindful of this part of an outbreak if you are aware that you carry the virus because medications are often most effective when the outbreak is treated early on. These initial stages of herpes outbreak sometimes go completely unnoticed. Outbreaks will develop increasingly less severely the longer that the virus is in a persons system, and timely treatment of the outbreaks will generally result in reduced frequency and less painful outbreaks in the future.
Shortly after the early stages of herpes signs become apparent, small red bumps will begin to develop on the affected area. These bumps quickly grow into full, fluid filled blisters. The fluid that fills the blisters will be clear, whitish, or reddish. In some situations, one larger blister will form. At other times, small series of blisters will develop into small clusters.
In the next stages of herpes, the blisters will begin to ooze fluid and ulcerate. They will take on an appearance similar to a cut and be very sensitive and raw to the touch. When this happens, the blisters will be the most painful. In order to manage the pain more effectively, ointments or creams, such as those containing aloe vera can be applied.
After opening, the blisters can begin the healing process. This process begins the final stages of herpes outbreak. After the newly open wounds expel their fluids, they will begin to dry out. As they dry, scabs will develop over the raw areas. With the formation of the scabs, the body can now regenerate the new skin necessary to cover over the area of the outbreak. As the new skin is formed, the scabs will fall off the area that the lesions formerly occupied. When they fall off, the healing process has officially been completed.
This generalized account of a herpes outbreak is characteristic of the basic stages of herpes. In some more severe cases, early stages of herpes can be accompanied by flu-like symptoms such as fevers and headaches. When medical attention is sought soon after the virus is identified and when necessary treatment, whether it is prescriptive or natural, is employed, the severity of these additional symptoms usually declines dramatically or ceases to exist at all.