Sexually Transmitted Diseases/Herpes Scared


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I'm 32 from Seattle Washington. About a week ago, I started developing back pain and sore throat, but no fever.  I have been feeling tired as well. Then yesterday, I started noticing these red bumps  in my groin area under my testicles.  I have been tested for HSV I/II and both came back negative a month ago by IgG serology.

Now I'm wondering if these bumps are early signs for genital herpes as I'm really scared.

Thanks for your help!

ANSWER: Hello Jazee,
The skin lesions do not look like herpes. However whoever ordered the lab tests ordered IgG which detects antibody of herpes from PREVIOUS infection, not newly acquired infection-- in other words, INCOMPLETE tests. What the bumps look like are beginnings of folliculitis (deep pimples) or skin abscesses usually caused by MRSA, a type of skin germ (Staph aureus, methicillin resistent).  Apply moist heat compresses 5-10minutes at a time, 3 times daily, followed by applying and massaging an antibiotic ointment into the affected area. It should begin to improve within a few days.  If it does NOT, and instead gets worse, than it should be reassessed.

Herpes progresses rapidly: day one is usually numbness, tingly, itchy, maybe some redness; then a blister or cluster of blisters develops, which then progresses to an ulceration and final healing.  Total time of this progression, is 1-2 weeks for most people. It usually affects only the right or left, but does not cross the midline. MRSA on the other hand, can occur in numerous places everywhere, and may be cause pain, fever, etc.  And back pain, fever, malaise, etc. can also be caused by an upper respiratory virus (such as the flu) as well!  

Good luck!

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QUESTION: Dear Mark, thanks for the quick response. Last night i started feeling pain in that region and the bumps got bigger than before. The pain is like pins and needles, but it's not consistently painful.  I applied polysporin to that area and when the q-tip touched one of the lesions, it hurts. The crop looks like it's getting bigger as well. im still worried that it might be herpes. Any thoughts?

Thanks again!

Hi Again, Jazee/Jason,
The pain and pin-needle sensation you are feeling is from unpleasant stimulation of the sensory nerves in the skin from the pressure of the abscess.  Now it can also be herpes, but I doubt it, since as I indicated previously, the progression of the signs & symptoms for herpes is fairly rapid... over the course of a few days, it changes markedly.  It seems much more likely to be MRSA. MOIST HEAT COMPRESSES, or soaking in a tub of hot water (you may toss in 1/4- 1/2 cup of liquid bleach to the bath water) which will make the tub smell like a swimming pool; this very weak bleach solution helps to kill skin bacteria that causes such abscesses.

Good luck!

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Mark P. Behar


Almost any question or concern about gay men's health issues, sexually transmitted infections, abnormal Pap smears, anal cytology (anal "Pap smears"), etc. There is no such thing as “d/d free” or “clean” (free of infection), so why do so many of us deceive ourselves into thinking that some people are indeed totally free from a potentially infectious disease, like HIV, herpes, hepatitis, syphilis, chlamydia, warts, gonorrhea, etc., just because they say so? Clinical laboratory tests are not perfect, and having a “negative” or “nonreactive” test does not mean that a person is free from infection. Perhaps at the moment the test was taken, the person was uninfected; or, perhaps, the test wasn’t sensitive enough to detect presence of the infection. There is really no way that anyone can determine that they are truly “disease free,” and there are over a hundred of infectious conditions that can be spread without your knowing anything. Rather than trying to “pre-screen” or “serosort” a potential sex-mate with deceptive questions that are impossible to know by today’s technologies, a wiser option may be to consider everyone infected with something, and either use appropriate protective measures (“safer sex”), or accept the responsibility and consequences of possibly “catching” something from someone who’s hotter than expected (pun intended!). There is much research that supports the contention that an HIV positive person reliably taking HIV medications, and having an undetectable viral load, presents a lower risk for transmission of HIV than people who may think or say they are HIV negative, but are not. Food for thought!


Family Practice PA since 1981; Volunteer Clinician for Brady East STD (BESTD) Clinic, Milwaukee, since 1977; answered STD questions submitted to their web site. Professionally lectured at national and regional Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioner conferences, and at national gay & lesbian health conferences on topics including HIV/AIDS, herpes, hepatitis, STDs, human papilloma virus (the cause of venereal warts), abnormal Pap smears, gay and lesbian health issues, among others.

Co-Founder, Lesbian, Bisexual, & Gay Physician Assistant Caucus of the American Academy of Physician Assistants, Inc.; American Academy of Physician Assistants; Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants; National Co-Chair (2012-16), National Association of Black and White Men Together: A Gay, Multiracial Organization for All People (NABWMT)

Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants (JAPA) Q Visions, Quarterly Newsletter of the NABWMT

Bachelor's of Arts, 1972 (University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI) Graduate Credits Experimental Psychology, 1972-75 (Tulane University, New Orleans, LA) Physician Assistant, Bachelor's of Science, 1981 (George Washington University, Washington, DC); Masters in Physician Assistant Studies, 2000 (University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE)

Awards and Honors
Colposcopy Recognition Award (CRA), the American Association of Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology; Distinguished Fellow, Clinical Preceptor, American Academy of Physician Assistants; Fellow, Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants

Past/Present Clients
Brady East STD Clinic, Milwaukee, WI Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. (Martin Luther King Heritage Health Center), Dept. of Family Medicine and Early Intervention Program for HIV Infected Persons

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