Can Genital Herpes Appear on the Thigh?

Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) that can cause sores in various places on the body. Blister-like lesions may appear in the genital area, anus, thighs, and buttocks.

The virus enters the body through either a mucous membrane (like in the genitals) or an injury in the skin. When active, the virus uses nerve pathways to travel to the skin's surface, where it multiplies.

This can result in sores and rashes in some people, but not everyone with genital herpes will experience symptoms.

This article will discuss genital herpes, what it looks like, where sores are located, how it is diagnosed, other conditions that may be mistaken for genital herpes, and when to see a healthcare provider.

Person feeling pain or symptoms in thigh

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What Does Genital Herpes Look Like?

Not everyone with genital herpes will have visible signs of the infection. Some people may acquire the virus and not even know it.

In some people, lesions will form on the skin from two days to three weeks after acquiring the virus. The sores may be similar in appearance to a pimple or ingrown hair. They may be bumps that are discolored or white. They may also have the appearance of a fluid-filled blister.

Many people will only have a few sores, but some people will have widespread sores or blisters. In addition to sores, a patch of swollen red skin may appear in the anus or genital area. It may also appear on the buttocks or thighs.

Blisters may form on this patch of skin. The blisters may burst, leaving behind sores that can be painful. These sores will form scabs in two to six weeks before healing completely.

Where Are Genital Herpes Sores Located?

Not everyone with genital herpes will have sores.

In those who do develop sores, they may appear in a number of places, including the:

  • Thighs
  • Anus
  • Buttocks
  • Scrotum
  • Penis
  • Vagina
  • Vulva
  • Mouth

Genital Herpes Symptoms

Genital herpes can cause a variety of symptoms. These include:

  • Sores or blisters that can be painful or burning on the genital area, anus, buttocks, thighs, or rectum
  • Patches of red, swollen skin
  • Headache
  • Fever
  • Aching muscles
  • Fatigue
  • Swollen lymph nodes

Other Conditions That Look Similar to Herpes

Herpes may sometimes be mistaken for other conditions. Sores may be mistaken for an ingrown hair or pimple.

Syphilis, another STI, may also appear similar to herpes. It is important to consult with a healthcare provider to determine if symptoms are due to herpes, another STI, or something else.

Is It Herpes?

Herpes may be accompanied by other symptoms that differentiate it from other conditions. Unlike pimples or ingrown hairs, before lesions or sores appear in herpes, it is common to experience a tingling or burning sensation on the skin where a sore will soon develop.

This may also be accompanied by a burning sensation when urinating. Genital herpes may also be accompanied by flu-like symptoms or difficulties urinating.


To diagnose genital herpes, a healthcare provider may:

  • Do a physical exam to look for sores that may indicate genital herpes (this may be all that is needed for a diagnosis)
  • Take a sample from any sores present to send for testing

If sores aren't present, a blood test will sometimes try to detect antibodies to HSV-2, with further testing as needed.

When to See a Healthcare Provider

If you have symptoms that may indicate genital herpes, make an appointment to see a healthcare provider. These symptoms include:

  • Painful urination
  • Sores or blisters in the genitals, anus, thighs, or buttocks
  • A feeling of burning or itching in the genital area
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Tingling in the genitals


Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection. It can cause sores on the genital area, anus, buttocks, or thighs. Not everyone with herpes will experience symptoms. Genital herpes may be mistaken for other conditions like ingrown hairs, pimples, or syphilis. It can be diagnosed with a physical exam which may be followed by lab tests.

A Word From Verywell

If you're worried you may have genital herpes, don't hesitate to reach out to a healthcare provider for support. Remember it can sometimes be difficult to know if you have genital herpes, so it is important to speak to a professional if you suspect you may have been exposed to the infection.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the first signs of genital herpes?

    Not everyone with genital herpes will notice or experience symptoms. In some people, the first signs are a tingling or burning sensation on the skin, followed by the development of sores or blisters. Flu-like symptoms may also occur.

  • Can genital herpes bumps spread to other parts of the body?

    Genital herpes doesn't just occur in the genital area. Sores may also appear on the buttocks, thighs, and anus. You may develop herpes at multiple sites, usually when you first acquire it.

    Sores occur in areas exposed to the virus through skin-to-skin contact or oral or genital secretions from a person who is shedding the virus.

    If you touch a herpes sore or fluids from it, you can transfer the virus to your eye or other parts of your body.

  • What other conditions are commonly mistaken for genital herpes?

    Genital herpes can be similar in appearance and therefore be mistaken for ingrown hairs or pimples. It may also be mistaken for another STI, syphilis.

8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital herpes – CDC fact sheet.

  2. American Academy of Dermatology Association. Genital herpes: signs and symptoms.

  3. Mount Sinai. Herpes simplex.

  4. Planned Parenthood. What does genital herpes look like?
  5. Johns Hopkins Medicine. Genital herpes.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Genital herpes – CDC fact sheet (detailed).

  7. Planned Parenthood. Should I get tested for herpes?
  8. NHS. Genital herpes.