How can I know if I have herpes?

If you think you have herpes, or any STI, contact your health care provider. He or she can examine you and perform tests to determine if you have an STI.

To check for herpes, your health care provider will likely:

  • Examine the blisters or sores.
  • Take a sample of tissue from the sore to look at under a microscope or to send to a laboratory to determine if herpes is present.

The test for herpes is not reliable if the sores have healed or are several days old. You may need to return to your health care provider for another test when the sores are present. Blood tests for herpes are available, but can’t determine if the blisters seen during your exam are related to herpes. The blood tests can only tell if you have been exposed to herpes sometime in your lifetime.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2014.


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