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What STD Skin Rashes Look Like

By HERWriter
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how to recognize STD skin rashes Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Sexually transmitted diseases (STD) may have a variety of symptoms or may not show any specific symptoms. However, the appearance of a rash or other skin change can be a sign that you need to be checked. Below are short descriptions of some skin symptoms to watch for if you are concerned that you may have been exposed to an STD.

Bacterial STDs

Often chlamydia has mild or no symptoms. Women may have an increased vaginal discharge and men a discharge from their penis. Lower abdominal pain, testicular pain in men and pain on urination may occur.

Gonorrhea (GC):
Symptoms may appear 2-10 days after exposure or in some people, or months may pass before symptoms occur. A thick, cloudy or bloody discharge may come from the vagina or penis. Men may have painful swollen testicles. Anal itching may occur. Burning on urination may be mistaken for a urinary tract infection.

Syphilis may develop in four stages.

Primary syphilis can occur 10 days to three months after exposure. A small sore (chancre) appears on your genitals, anal area or mouth/tongue depending on the area that the infection entered. Lymph nodes swell, and sometimes multiple sores can develop.

In secondary syphilis, reddish-brown penny-sized sores can erupt all over your body including the palms of your hands. Fatigue and soreness may develop. Stage two may disappear in a few weeks, or come and go for up to a year.

Latent (hidden)syphilis is next and may not have symptoms.

Tertiary syphilis is the last stage. Serious neurological and cardiovascular problems develop and possibly death.

Viral STDS

Genital Herpes (HSV-2):
Genital herpes often has mild or no symptoms. Small red bumps or blisters with open vesicles can appear on genitals, anus and other areas nearby. Painful itching or tingling in your genital area, buttocks or inner thighs may occur a few weeks after exposure. Herpes can be infectious even if no sores are present.

Genital Warts (HPV):
Genital warts may have no symptoms or they may appear as small flesh-colored or grey swellings in your genital areas. Clusters of them together can have a cauliflower appearance. You may have itching in genital area and bleeding with intercourse.

Women may also get genital warts inside the vagina and on men they may be on the tip or shaft of the penis. Oral lesions can occur after having oral sex with an infected person.

Hepatitis B (HBV):
Hepatitis B may or may not have symptoms. Skin, and the whites of your eyes, can become yellowed (jaundiced) and your skin may become itchy. Others symptoms may include dark urine, muscle/joint aches, fatigue and GI symptoms.

HIV progresses in stages. It may have no specific symptoms, or a flu-like illness can develop two to six weeks after becoming infected. Sore throat, swollen glands, night sweats, or canker sores in the mouth may develop along with a non-specific rash.

As the disease progresses swollen lymph nodes (often the first sign) weight loss, diarrhea, and shortness of breath with a cough can appear. In later stages, more severe infection symptoms develop.

Other STDS

Trichomoniasis: I
Trichomoniasis is a one-celled parasite that is often spread with sexual intercourse. A strong smelling clear, whitish, greenish or yellow discharge may appear from the vagina or penis along with itching or irritation. Pain with urination or sexual intercourse can occur.

Crabs (pubic lice):
Crabs are caused by small crab-shaped parasites that burrow into the skin and feed on blood. Symptoms start five to seven days after transmission. Skin can become itchy and inflamed and spots of blood may appear from affected blood vessels in the skin. You may even see visible lice and their eggs.

Don’t delay seeking treatment if you think you have acquired an STD. Serious irreversible health problems can occur from these infections. And remember, even after treatment, you can still get a STD again.


STD symptoms: Common STDs and their symptoms. Mayoclinic.com. Retrieved June 26, 2013.

Slideshow: Pictures and Facts About STDS. WebMD.com. Retrieved June 26, 2013.

STIs or STDs. Averting HIV and AIDs. Retrieved June 26, 2013.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs). NC State University Student Health Center. Retrieved June 26, 2013.

Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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