What is the Main Difference Between Ingrown Hair and Herpes: Causes and Symptoms

Spotting an unidentifiable red bump on your body can be unsettling. If the offending mark is on your private parts, the fear is paired with shame and additional worry. Questions bombard your brain. Could it be an STD? Should I have been more careful with my partner? Will anyone ever love me again?

Truth time, that little lump is likely nothing life-threatening or even love life-threatening. Two of the more common causes of sores in the groin areas is ingrown hair and herpes and neither is as big of a deal as society makes them out to be.

Ingrown Hair vs Herpes

To start, we will cover the general definition of each condition and then move on to clarifying the differences. It isn’t a contest between ingrown hair vs herpes, but rather an educational lesson on each including how to treat them.

Herpes sores are the surface outbreaks of the herpes simplex virus. HSV-1 prefers to adorn your mouth and lips with sores while HSV-2 prefers a penis or vagina as its home.

Ingrown hairs are a result of hair removal gone awry. When the hair is trying to grow back, it becomes obstructed by dead skin cells, oil, and dirt. Then it makes a U-turn downwards or begins to expand sideways beneath the skin’s surface. The clogged follicle can resemble a puffy pimple which is what gets it confused with herpes sores.

Difference Between Ingrown Hair and Herpes

In addition to stemming from disparate sources, there are some tricks to telling these two red bumps apart. Here is the difference between ingrown hair and herpes based on appearance.

Herpes presents itself in the following ways:

  • A cluster of wet, blistery, open sores
  • Diameter of fewer than 2 millimeters
  • Tender to the touch
  • Repeated outbreaks
  • Yellow discharge from ruptured blisters
  • Indentation in the middle of sore

On the contrary, ingrown hairs look like:

  • A single, isolated sore (can be multiple in one area, but it is not in recognizable patterns or groups)
  • Tiny, red bumps
  • A pimple-like head
  • Soreness
  • White pus if pimple is popped
  • Visible hair within bump

Each predicament comes with additional triggers that lead you down one fork in the road towards diagnosis.

Herpes are often accompanied by:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Flu symptoms

Ingrown hairs do not demonstrate additional symptoms unless they lead to a more serious infection like sepsis.

Genital Herpes vs Ingrown Hair Pictures

While a word can paint a picture, a picture is worth a thousand words. This gallery of genital herpes vs ingrown hair pictures will underscore both how the two can be confused and the skill of detecting the subtle discrepancies. Images may be disturbing to readers with weak stomachs that find medical things nauseating or gross.

Treating Genital Herpes

Diagnosis begins with a swab test of the sores. A sample can also be retrieved from the urinary tract since herpes doesn’t always cause outbreaks. In fact, according to the CDC, most people who have HSV do not even know because it lies dormant. The PCR test utilizes this culture and is very accurate.

There is no known cure for the virus, but medicine has proven effective in suppressing or reducing outbreaks. Antiviral medication is a major part of the combat against the virus. Meds can also aid in blocking the spread of the virus to sexual partners. Leading brands include Valtrex, Xerese, and Zorivax.

If you are living with the virus, understand that certain environmental and health factors can trigger an outbreak like:

  • Fatigue
  • Illness
  • Menstruation
  • Stress
  • Bad Diet
  • Injury

Keeping your immune system operating at optimal levels could save you from an outbreak. When the virus does strike, swallow a few Tylenol or Ibuprofen to ease the pain. Rotate an ice pack on the area and abstain from sexual contact until it clears up.

Fixing Ingrown Hair

Ingrown hairs afflict female and male humans are similar rates. Women tend to experience them on their armpits, legs, and bikini line while a man is more likely to have a bump on his face. This is due to societal and cultural trends for hair removal. Body location barely impacts treatment options unless you have more sensitive skin in a particular appendage.

If it is a solitary bump without signs of infection, it is relatively safe to dig the impacted hair out with tweezers. Just be mindful to properly sterilize the area and apply antibacterial cream until it heals. In rare cases, impacted hairs lead to serious infections that require medical attention. See a doctor if any of the following happens:

  • You start running a fever.
  • The sore becomes inflamed with red streaks spidering out from the center.
  • It takes more than a couple of weeks to heal.
  • It becomes extremely painful rather than just sore.

It is also time to see a dermatologist if you are plagued with chronic ingrown hairs. They can prescribe ointments or alternative hair removal processes that will make your life easier. There is no pride in suffering alone.



Article References:

  1. https://www.healthline.com/health/ingrown-hair-or-herpes#1
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/sepsis/what-is-sepsis.html
  3. https://www.webmd.com/genital-herpes/genital-herpes-diagnosis#1
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/std/herpes/stdfact-herpes.htm
  5. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/condition-174/genital%20herpes