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Gynecology

Is this herpes?

04/05/2000

Question:

Occasionally, I get an itchy outbreak near my tailbone. It is consists of raised bumps that eventually (5-7 days) dry up and disappear. They seem to apear when I am stressed, have a cold or have been in the sun alot. Is this herpes or shingles? I first noticed it after using a tanning bed, could I have picked it up there? Is it tranferable during intercourse even if I have no lesions near my genital area?

Answer:

What you are experiencing may be a form of a herpes virus (genital herpes, cold sores or chicken pox with recurrent shingles, are forms of herpes virus). It is difficult to tell based on your symptoms, but it sounds a lot like shingles. Shingles isn`t contagious while genital herpes is. Even if it were genital herpes, it has a low likelihood of transmission given its location. The best way to determine what type you have would be to culture the sores for the herpes virus. Antibody testing could determine if you have been infected in the past. It would be impossible to determine if you contracted genital herpes from a surface although it is unlikely to occur.

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Response by:

Thomas  A deHoop, MD Thomas A deHoop, MD
Formerly Associate Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology
Director, Medical Student Education
No longer associated