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Symptoms that Doctors Can Mistake for Herpes

The best way to test for STDs is by going to the doctor.
The best way to test for STDs is by going to the doctor.
Photo by China Photos/Getty Images

According to the Center for Disease Control, there are about 20 million new STD infections each year in the United States. If someone finds bumps or abnormal tissue on their genitals (or mouth), they might instantly leap to the conclusion they have herpes or another STD. A doctor can observe the blisters to confirm it is herpes, but once they become ulcers or crust over, the verdict can be unclear. A culture needs to be taken and possibly a blood test as well.

What to do if you have herpes
If one suspects he or she has an infection or disease, it is a smart idea to go to a doctor or clinic to be tested. Even if it isn’t an STD, a bladder infection or other diseases can be deadly if left untreated. As embarrassing as it is to talk to someone, there are resources out there which can help.
In a previous post, resources were listed which can help those who want more information about STDs or want to know what the symptoms of an infection might be. The Mayo Clinic and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were two of these resources.
Another resource for those with STDs is PositiveSingles. This is a website devoted to helping people with STDs connect with others. There are two parts to this website: a dating website for those with STDs and a free section to help people with STDs. On the informative section of the website, there are free forums, articles, treatment and legal advice, stories and support for those who have STDs.

Diseases and disorders that could look like herpes or other STDs

Although there are many possibilities out there besides herpes such as gonorrhea and chlamydia—which are curable—there are also many other skin disorders and easily curable infections that could be mistaken for an STD. Some of these conditions are not sexually transmitted infections but linked to them because they sometimes occur together. Others are genetic disorders that are not contagious. Below you will find a disorders and infections that one could mistake as an STD.

Bacterial Vaginosis/Vaginitis
As the name implies, this is caused by a bacteria, sometimes with no symptoms, at other times mistaken for a yeast infection. Certain strains of bacteria cause vaginosis, others cause vaginitis. Treated with antibiotics, this is a curable infection when properly diagnosed. However, it often reoccurs, which can be frustrating. Left untreated, bacterial vaginosis can affect fertility and cause premature delivery.

Urinary Tract Infections
Although, UTIs are not directly considered a sexually transmitted infection, they can be caused by intercourse for some. Other diseases may have symptoms similar to a bladder or urinary tract infection. Left untreated, this can cause kidney damage. This is an infection caused by a bacteria which is easily curable with antibiotics, however, for some women the bacteria returns. Also, for many, antibiotics lead to the next infection. . . .

Yeast Infections
These itchy infections are caused by the candida fungus which naturally occurs in the body but become more numerous due to antibiotics, pregnancy and contraception. It is considered a sexually associated infection because semen encourages candida growth. It can also be passed to male partners and from males, so it is important that both partners are treated.

This is a one-celled protozoan parasite. It can be contracted sexually, but the parasite can also live for forty-eight hours outside the body on damp towels, bathing suits and can survive in chlorinated hot tubs and swimming pools. This is easily treatable with medication such as Flagyl, though doctors do not always accurately diagnose trich unless they use a wet prep or culture.

Lichen planus
This is a chronic autoimmune disorder that may occur in the mouth and genitals as wells as other areas of the body. It is not contagious and is treated with cortisone and ointments.

Lichen sclerosus
This is a skin disorder that shows up as white spots anywhere on the body and causes itching on women’s vulvas. Though there is no cure, treatment is a strong steroid cream. It is important to get treatment as early as possible and since it is a genetic disease, doctors suggest notifying female family members.

Eczema and Psoriasis
This is a chronic skin disorder that can be anywhere on the body. Skin is dry, scaly, white or red and thick. Eczema may be itchy or blistery. It may appear as spots or lesions and can develop on the vagina. It is not contagious and can be treated with strong steroids and other medications.

Hidradenitis suppurativa
This is a rare skin disease that causes blockages in the hair follicles and sweat glands. Because these areas get infected and the infection may rupture and spread under the skin, it is painful and may cause scarring like acne. Those with a history of acne or family members with acne are more likely to have this. In the past surgery was the only option. There are several advancements in treatments including antibiotics, antiandrogens or drugs that block male hormones in women, retinoids, and cyclosporine.

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