Ingrown Hair vs Herpes, What is the difference?


Of all the numerous causes of red and painful blisters, we’ve decided to bring the competition to two of the most common, ingrown hair vs herpes.

As lots of people shave the area around their genitals and other parts of their bodies, it may be difficult to tell the difference between ingrown hair and herpes.

So, if you find yourself in this position, confused if the rash or sore around your genitals is due to herpes or ingrown hair, this article is for you.

Use this guide to know their clear definitions, differences, and diagnosis.

Let’s get started!

What is Ingrown Hair?

Naturally, hair grows out of the hair follicle. Sometimes, the hair can curl into the follicle, causing it to grow under the skin.

This inward growth can irritate the skin and cause inflammation that leads to the formation of red and painful blisters called pseudofolliculitis barbae.

Anyone can develop ingrown hairs but it is more common amongst people who remove their hair, particularly shave it.

In some people, the ingrown hairs become so infected that they cause intense pain and even scarring.

To prevent ingrown hair, it’s best to not remove it. Alternatively, you can;

  • Using a clean, sharp razor
  • Exfoliating before hair removal
  • Shaving in one direction and pulling the skin taut.
  • Use over-the-counter lotions to reduce shaving-related irritation.

READ MORE: 15 Best Hairsprays for Men in 2022

What is Herpes?

Herpes is a common virus someone gets through contact with herpes sores. Herpes sores can occur either in the mouth or in the genital area.

The Herpes virus lives in the body forever and reactivates occasionally, causing red painful blisters that tend to break open and ooze.

For most people, the symptoms of Herpes are mild, and after the first outbreak, subsequent outbreaks are less severe. But it can be very dangerous for people who have a weak immune system.

READ MORE: How to Effectively Treat Fried Hair in 2022

What’s the difference between Herpes and Ingrown hairs?

Both herpes and ingrown hair result in red and painful blisters, skin irritation, and itching.

If skin irritation is due to herpes, a person may experience:

  • fever or flu-like symptoms
  • ulcers that appear 2–12 days after contact
  • blisters that last 2–4 weeks
  • sores that appear on only one side of the genitals
  • pain and other symptoms that occur before the blisters appear

If a rash starts to develop, it is more likely that it is as a result of ingrown hair following these symptoms;

  • a visible hair growing under the surface of the skin
  • risk factors for ingrown hairs, such as curly or tightly coiled hair
  • irritation that appears within 1–2 days of shaving or affects an area that has been exposed to a lot of friction

READ MORE: Does Hair Dye Kill Head Lice?

How to get the right diagnosis

Sometimes, these common bumps can be difficult to differentiate, even by trained medical professionals. Thus, resulting in using medical tests to examine.

A blood test can determine if you have HSV. Your doctor may do a full STI-screening test to rule out other possible causes. If these results come back negative, your doctor may look for other possible explanations. These include ingrown hair, blocked oil glands, and cysts.

However, keep in mind that ingrown hair is a very common cause of bumps in your genital area. Talk with your doctor if you have any issues. They can help make you feel more relaxed.

Disclaimer: This article was solely written for informative and educative purposes only. This is in no way a substitute for medical attention or proper medical knowledge. Ensure you visit your doctor in case of any symptoms.

READ MORE: How to Detangle Matted Hair to Avoid Cutting


In this ingrown hair vs herpes comparison, I hope you understand the clear difference between the two.

If you have any questions or suggestions, kindly let me know in the comments section below.


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