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I've got a single, tiny red scab on my penis. Could it be herpes?

Hello all,

On day 1, I woke up with a single, small (~1 mm) red "cut" on the shaft of my penis. It was not a clear circle, more of a non-geometric shape. It was red as if I had scraped off a layer of skin. The next day, a scab started to form around the border. The scab has gotten more pronounced and become thicker, but it's still along the border and the inside has become dark red. We are now at the end of day 4. It was smooth at first, but now a bit of a bump due to the scab.

Could this be herpes? I have no other symptoms and the "cut / scab" doesn't hurt at all. It is not fluid filled. The only thing that has me concerned is that it is in the middle of the shaft of the penis, so there are no hairs. I could have somehow torn the skin during masturbation the night before, but that seems unlikely, and if it was a tear, shouldn't it hurt?

I've read that herpes can be very mild and a single blister and often be mistaken for other conditions. I have had unprotected receptive oral sex and a very short episode of unprotected insertive anal sex over the past few months. Nobody has had sores during these encounters or told me they have herpes.

I'd rather not get tested unless you all strongly recommend it. I'm in the school of thought that unless a person is having intense symptoms, herpes is not the kind of STD you need to constantly test for.

Would love any advice :)
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207091 tn?1337709493
It could be herpes, or it could be a lot of other things.

Of course, the only way to know is to get tested. Getting a swab test now is pointless, since you've had it for so long, but you can get a type specific IgG blood test now, and if it's negative, get another one at 4 months.

I also don't think you need to test constantly for herpes, but I do think that if you have symptoms, you should test. I think that if you have an STI, you have a responsibility to help prevent the spread of it, and having mild symptoms makes no difference in the rates of spreading it. With herpes, you shed the virus at the same rate if you have milder symptoms or more severe ones.

You may have mild symptoms, but perhaps a partner you spread it to may not. You're having unprotected sex. Herpes isn't the only thing you're at risk for, so I'd advise you to get tested for gonorrhea, chlamydia, syphilis, HIV, mycoplasma, NGU and herpes.

If you do have herpes, it can increase your risk for getting other STIs, including HIV, so I think it's really important that you know.

I don't know if you have herpes or not - only testing will tell you that. I don't mean to sound harsh or judgemental at all - I just want to stress how important it is that you know. You're engaging in some pretty high risk activities, and I believe you should be totally informed about it. :)

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Thank you for the very thoughtful response :) I am on Prep medication, so not worried about HIV, but I agree that unprotected insertive sex wasn't my smartest decision. I used to be a hypochondriac about herpes and think every little thing was a herpes sore and used to get tested a bunch, but have finally moved past that paranoia over the past few years, which is part of the context of my post. I do get tested for HIV every three months and a broader STD test annually.

The more I think about it though, I do not think my "cut" was herpes. On day 5, the scab fell off and it's mostly healed skin underneath. It has all the hallmarks of a regular cut, it went from being red to scabbing over in a  day. The scab lasted four days and then fell off. No pus, pain, ulcer, fluid, etc. Even on day 1, there wasn't anything to swab. Also, I don't think herpes sores only last for 5 days, right? Especially for an initial outbreak?

Anyway, I do appreciate your advice, so at my next checkup, I'll get a full STD test, though I don't feel the need to rush to the doctor this week or anything.

I guess one final question, and I know you're not a doctor, but have you heard of herpes symptoms presenting itself similar to my "cut"?

Thank you again! I really do appreciate you taking the time out of your day to help a stranger. Means a lot :)
I agree that an initial outbreak would likely be more severe, unless you have hsv1 already. That tends to make an hsv2 infection milder. Obviously, that's not a hard and fast rule, but it does happen quite a bit.

It doesn't sound like herpes, but again, only testing will tell you for sure. I agree that you don't need to rush to the doctor, especially if it might send you back to the dark place again with obsessing. Your mental health is as important as your physical health.

Herpes can present as a cut, but they tend to look like paper cuts. Is that what yours looked like?

I'm also really happy to hear you're on Prep. :) Just remember that there are other STIs to be concerned with, even though they may not be as serious as HIV.

And you're welcome. I'm happy to help.
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