How Long Does It Take For The Herpes Symptoms To Show Up After Exposure?

Herpes is a widely known viral infection, which may or may not immediately show visible symptoms in an infected individual. It is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) with two different types: HSV-1 and HSV-2.


Exposure to the herpes virus has a very high risk of transmission, so it’s advisable to get tested right away. With or without the symptoms, the virus may remain dormant in the body, but it does not reduce the risk of infecting another individual.


Let’s explore more about HSV, the signs and symptoms of infection, and the necessary actions for treatment.


HSV-1 vs. HSV-2

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1)

HSV-1 is characterized by oral to oral transmission. Oral herpes, or also known as “cold sores”, appear as small painful blisters around the mouth, lips, or gums. It is contagious through touching and kissing. Skin to skin exposure allows the virus to transfer from one host to another.


However, HSV-1 does not cause serious health issues. Aside from the blisters, it only has a few other symptoms, such as mild fever and itchiness.


There’s a possibility that the sores won’t be present right after the exposure, although they eventually will. It takes approximately one to three weeks for the blisters to show.


When HSV-1 becomes symptomatic, the blisters might spread around the mouth area, where the small blisters might also merge to make up for bigger blisters.


As they continue to appear repeatedly over the years, they’re usually visible on the same spot or somewhere near it.


Herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2)

HSV-2 is more commonly known as genital herpes. It’s sexually transmitted, which means that the symptoms of blisters often show in the genital areas. In some cases, HSV-2 is caused by HSV-1 through oral sex.


Like HSV-1, it might take for about one to three weeks for the first symptoms to manifest after initial exposure. It can last for up to three weeks.


An outbreak of symptoms begins with minor inflammations in the infected area. They’re more painful and cause other symptoms, such as itchiness, fever, muscle ache, and headache.


The duration and frequency of outbreaks gradually decrease over time.



HSV can be treated with oral antiviral medications, like acyclovir, famciclovir, or valacyclovir. But, it can only do so much as lessen the pain and shorten the outbreak for a couple of days. It would help if the infected person can take the medicine before the blisters come out.



Upon exposure to the herpes simplex virus, it usually takes one to two weeks, or as long as three weeks, for the initial symptoms to appear. Although, there’s always a possibility for the first symptoms not to show up just yet.


HSV-1 and HSV-2 are lifelong infections. The virus rarely shows symptoms, but it remains latent in the body, which reappears at unexpected intervals.


The symptoms usually last for only about two weeks every time they appear. Fortunately, they become rare as the infected person grows older.


Discover other available treatment options for HSV. Visit CallonDoc to have a talk with a medical doctor via online consultation.