Genital Warts vs. Herpes

Are Genital Warts and Genital Herpes the Same Thing?

People often confuse genital warts with other skin conditions or mistakenly worry about non-infectious lumps and bumps which are perfectly normal. One of the most common mistakes people make is equating genital warts with genital herpes. The answer to the question, "Are genital warts and genital herpes the same thing?" is a resounding NO! Although both conditions are sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and may start out with similar symptoms, genital warts and herpes are two distinct, different diseases.

Can I have Both Genital Warts and Herpes?

The answer to this next common question asked by people diagnosed with genital warts, "Can I have genital warts and herpes at the same time?" is YES. However, when you are diagnosed or are being treated for one of these diseases, it does NOT mean that you have the other.

Genital Warts and Herpes Similarities

It's easy to understand why people get confused between genital warts and herpes. After all, both are STDs which are spread through the skin (i.e. skin-to-skin contact or bodily fluid-to-skin contact), and both are typically transmitted during sex. Additional similarities between genital warts and herpes include:

•- First symptoms usually appear in the genital area (although not always)

•- Share similar first signs and symptoms of redness and soreness

•- Both viruses can also occur in the anus region, around the mouth and lips, in the eyes, and on the hands

•- There is no cure for either genital warts or herpes

•- While neither genital warts or herpes can be cured, there are several treatment options and remedies available today for both diseases

Genital Warts and Herpes Differences

To help you avoid confusing these two common and widespread STDs, here are some of the main differences between genital warts and herpes that you should be aware of:

•- Both STDs are caused by distinct/different viruses

•- Genital warts are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV)

•- Genital herpes is caused by the herpes virus

•- Genital warts continue to grow until they are removed

•- Many herpes sores turn into blisters which eventually dry up and go away on their own

Skin Conditions Confused with Genital Warts

There are several 'normal' skin conditions which are also oftentimes confused with genital warts, yet in fact they are not sexually transmitted and are non-infectious skin manifestations. The following are some of the most common symptoms/conditions confused with genital warts:

•- Angiokeratomas: Benign red- to blue-colored spots on the skin which appear as blood blisters

•- Pimples around the genital area that are sore and/or inflamed and that appear similar to those found on the face. These perfectly normal pimples are caused by blocked sebaceous glands (oil glands).

•- Pearly Penile Papules: Completely benign, dome-shaped white or flesh-colored bumps that appear on the rim of the penis head, often in organized rows like a string of pearls. More rarely, similar papules can occur on the vulva

•- Fordyce's Spots: Painless, raised, red, or white/pale bumps or spots appearing on the shaft of the penis in men or on the labia (lip-like structures of the vulva) in women. Although they are often a cosmetic concern (for men in particular), Fordyce's spots are not associated with any illnesses or diseases but are rather a form of sebaceous skin glands known to secrete the oily/waxy matter known as sebum (found more commonly on the face and scalp)

Get a Medical Checkup

Any time you notice unusual or unfamiliar lumps or bumps of any size, shape, or color on your genital areas, face, or other parts of your skin, you should make an appointment with your doctor or a health clinic for a medical checkup. If you don't think your symptoms are a cause for concern, it is always better to be safe than sorry. On the other hand, you might erroneously jump to the conclusion that you have a sexually transmitted disease or a serious problem when in fact your symptoms are not of a medical concern. A doctor will examine you, order/administer the appropriate tests, and advise you on how to best proceed.