What I thought was an outbreak a week or so ago, was and wasn’t.
The rash on my pubic mound did eventually turn into the puffy white blisters, and they broke and weeped and scabbed, and eventually the scabs fell off.
The weird bump on my lip went away after two days. I still don’t know if it was just a fat lip, or a bug bite, or a pimple that didn’t quite form, or if it was an aborted oral herpes outbreak. I’ve never had oral herpes symptoms before, but it’s entirely possible that I caught it via oral sex, and my first and only outbreak was wildly mild. Considering so many people who have herpes experience no symptoms, and considering that my body is kinda starting to get the hang of the virus, and considering I took outbreak-strength Valtrex when it started happening, it’s possible. Not betting money on it either way.
The itchy patch of mini-blisters on my thigh scabbed (mostly because I scratched it open) and remained itchy and scaly and red. It didn’t act like herpes and didn’t go away when I took the pills. For a while I wondered if it was ringworm, because it didn’t quite look like poison ivy, but it is getting better on its own without anti-fungals. (Did you know that ringworm is actually a fungus, not a worm?) It’s still there, but it’s now just raised and red and doesn’t itch or have blisters anymore.
I find it really interesting that the outbreak happend and then started to heal before I finally broke down this weekend. My stress levels were at an all-time high when I wrote that last post, and I haven’t seen anything herpes-like since I hit that point. I know stress is supposed to be a trigger, but I’ll be damned if the correlation makes sense to me.
I hope ya’ll out there are healthy and doing well.
Nope. It’s still there. Some vigorous contact with facial hair scared the little bump out of hiding. Now it’s annoyed. I could give a shit.
Alas, 2-Day Outbreaks are not (yet?) A Thing.
I’m starting to think I’m crazy because I felt around for it last night in the shower, just to see how it was doing, and I couldn’t feel it. So maybe it was there for a couple days and I just didn’t notice? Because showing up one day and being gone the next would make it the shortest outbreak I’ve ever had.
Two-day outbreaks could become a thing. I’d be cool with that.
I have a little outbreakidge going on. Just a hard bump (or maybe two, right next to each other), on the inner most layer, close to my vagina. It’s a little sensitive to the touch, but I didn’t even notice it until I was washing myself in the shower.
It’s been a while since I’ve had an outbreak, and I was wondering if maybe they’d gone away, and I’d be one of those people who just has them once or twice a year. Maybe I’m moving in that direction, but clearly I’m not there yet.
I’m trying to decide if I should call the gyno and ask her to refill my valacyclovir Rx. The last bottle from several months ago is still sitting on the edge of my bathroom sink, with one lonely pill in it. Do I want to deal with this outbreak for longer, or do I want to fork over money I probably shouldn’t be spending? Maybe I wouldn’t have ordered fun things with my allowance* this week if I’d known this would happen.
Speaking of pill bottles, I still have both bottles from my first and second Rx fills. The first bottle I never threw away because I didn’t want anyone to pick up the bottle and read my name on it and know that I was taking a herpes drug, and thus know that I had herpes, even if it was just somebody I’ll never meet who happens to work at the recycling center. (Are pill bottles even recyclable? If not, and I try to recycle it, that guarantees somebody will pick it up.) On one hand I know it’s dumb to feel paranoid about it, but it’s still, for whatever reason, a legit worry. On the other, it’s in plain view in my apartment, and the newer bottle is right out on my counter top in the bathroom, so anybody who happens to come visit me might see it and make the connection anyway. What’s worse, a stranger knowing that I have herpes, or a friend I didn’t tell, or my mom, should she come and visit? (She would recognize the drug name and know what it was, or else she would ask my father, and he would definitely know.)
Lately my boyfriend and I have discussed a little more seriously the possibility of moving in together. Either I would move into his place, or we would find a larger apartment together, and either way we would probably have people over on a somewhat regular basis. (My apartment is really too small to entertain, so my visitors are relatively few). So, do I keep my Rx bottles in the medicine cabinet, knowing that eventually someone over for a visit or a party is likely to see it, and maybe know what it means? People do that. They look in people’s medicine cabinets. Or do I hide them in my top dresser drawer, hide them away like the dirty secret I don’t really feel they are, just for a shred of privacy and peace of mind? How do I actually live the balance between knowing that herpes is no big deal and deserves to be treated as such, and having no interest in telling people about it?
*I’m not a kept woman. By allowance I mean, money that didn’t go towards bills and my savings account this week.
Well, that depends on where it shows up. And, I assume, on whom.
When I went to my doctor for what ended up being my herpes diagnosis, I asked her what it might be. She said it looked like a virus, which among other things could be herpes. “Does it look like…that?” She carefully avoided giving me a direct yes or no, but explained that herpes takes on many forms.
Personally, I’ve experienced herpes outbreaks in at least five forms. Each outbreak has involved a different combination of these possible incarnations.
[I tried to put an after-the-jump break here, but for whatever reason it’s not working. Sorry, people who don’t want to read on!]
HARD BUMPS: These show up on the outer labia, which I consider to be dry skin. They don’t look like much unless you stretch the skin; otherwise they lurk almost below skin level, like there’s a tiny, flesh pebble caught under your skin. Mostly they itch. A lot. But if you scratch them or mess with them too much, they hurt. It’s a kind of dull, sore pain. Eventually they either seem to sink back into the skin, or they’ll break open and you’ll have a round, shiny wet spot. It will try to crust over, and it doesn’t like to be touched. It will still be annoyingly itchy.
BLISTERS: These didn’t actually show up until about my third outbreak. A little cluster of about 7 of them appeared on my inner thigh, not far from the crease where my out labia begins. They start out clear, but as they swell they turn either a grey-white or a pale yellow. The tops of them are almost flat, and I think of them as being perfectly round with a sort of center point. They itch until they eventually break open, and at that point they’ll weep, crust over, and begin to heal. I read somewhere that they can leave a little silvery mark for a while after they’ve gone away, but I haven’t noticed any on myself yet.
RED SPOTS: I had one of these on my pubic mound during my first outbreak. I tried to squeeze it like an ingrown hair, but it didn’t feel like one, and it didn’t really look like one. By the time I noticed the spot, it was already broken open and was quite red. It didn’t hurt, wasn’t sore, didn’t itch. It just stood out like a little red warning light under my pubic hair. My best guess is that it was a small blister or bump that broke open either on its own or when I absentmindedly scratched it. The doctor (who has also correctly identified and pointed out my ingrown hairs) noticed it right away and knew what it was.
BLISTER RASH: This also appeared on my pubic mound, during a different outbreak. Again, it was bright red. When I looked at it very closely, I saw that it was made up of many tiny, clear fluid bubbles, similar to poison ivy bwebs. IT ITCHED LIKE CRAZY. This was the first outbreak that was so itchy that I woke up in the middle of the night and had to ice it before I could fall back to sleep.
SORES/ULCERS: These show up on the inner labia, on what I think of as either pink skin or wet skin. It’s the skin where moisture is often trapped, where the skin is thinner and darker, and has a richer blood supply. Often times here herpes will skip the blister stage completely and go right to the open sore, or ulcer (which, as my doctor explained to me, is “a breakdown of the skin.”) It looks like a little round or oval-shaped spot with a darker ring around the outside and a lighter center. It feels like any little cut you might get from a sharp fingernail — if you bump or stretch it, there’s a sharp, unpleasant pain. They weep and the whitish parts are, from what I understand, sloughed off dead skin cells. This is where a lot of the unusual discharge/clitty litter/outbreak-specific smell comes from. They burn if you pee on them, which can feel like a UTI to some people. The natural reaction may be to drink less, and thus pee less, but it’s actually better to drink more so that the urine is less acidic and hurts them less.
Overall, I prefer the sores to anything else. Why? Because they hurt only when you touch them with something, they’re less susceptible to movement or touching anything tucked between the labia, and they heal faster. Pain isn’t pleasant, but if you don’t touch them (and I sure as fuck don’t want to) they’re pretty easy to ignore. All of the types that show up on dry skin — the blisters, bumps and rash — itch something crazy and make it difficult to sleep. I find it very difficult to leave poison ivy, mosquito bites, or anything that itches to its own devices. I scratch it without thinking, even in my sleep, and at times find it almost impossible to stop.
All types should heal without scarring, if they’re left alone. They all like to be washed carefully with water and given plenty of air so that they can dry out. I’ve read about covering them with cornmeal or baking powder to speed along the drying process, but haven’t tried it. For their soothing qualities, my Glitter Sponsor swears by salty baths, or taking an already-steeped green tea bag and applying it to one’s nethers.