The sexually transmitted disease that is more likely to cause bumps on the buttocks is genital herpes. In this article, we will focus on the main aspects of genital herpes, as well as on other medical conditions that could appear with the same presentation. 

What is herpes?

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) has two types, HSV-1 and HSV-2. The first one is oral herpes, and the second one is genital herpes. Although both can cause genital lesions, HSV-1 is predominantly affecting the mouth and oral cavity, causing painful sores, known as cold sores or fever blisters. HSV-2 causes painful sores to appear on, in, or around the genitals. It affects an estimated 417 million people worldwide. HSV-1 is also quite prevalent, affecting almost 67% of the population.

Symptoms and signs of genital herpes

Genital herpes presents with one or multiple blisters on the mouth, genitals, or anus of the infected individual. Since herpes spreads through skin-to-skin contact, individuals may get bumps anywhere on the body, including the buttocks. These blisters might be itchy and are going to erupt into painful sores a few days after. These sores, known as ulcers, can cause prominent discomfort if left untreated. Newly-acquired HSV infections might also generate some of the following symptoms and signs:

  • Fever
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Muscle pain

Genital herpes presents as exacerbations or outbreaks that tend to decrease over time. Some people might get a feeling they are going to have one soon, characterized by muscle pain in the thighs and buttocks. 

How can you get genital herpes?

HSV-2 is a highly transmissible virus that you can acquire through sexual contact with an infected person. It spreads through skin-to-skin contact. Therefore, penetrative sex is not required. Individuals with HSV-2 can transmit the disease to others, even in the absence of profound lesions. Unprotected oral, vaginal, or anal sex and many types of foreplay could be the route of HSV-2 transmission. Sex toys that are not correctly cleaned could also spread the disease. 

How can you test for genital herpes?

To get tested for HSV-2, you can get an STD rapid test kit and do it at home. It is an easy-to-perform fingerstick test that provides you fast results fifteen minutes after you complete the testing procedure. Alternatively, you can visit a doctor who is going to take a sample of your blood and send it off to the laboratory. Both options are accurate and will provide you with a diagnosis. Physical examination is also significant, but not definitive. HSV-2 might mimic other conditions, such as folliculitis. Getting tested is the only way to know.

What triggers herpes outbreaks?

  • Physiological or emotional stress
  • Chronic illness or fatigue
  • Immunosuppression
  • Menstruation
  • Mechanical trauma in the genitals

Genital herpes treatment

HSV-2 is one of the STDs that do not have a cure. Treatment is to reduce the frequency of the outbreaks and the severity of the symptoms. Acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir are some of the most common medications against herpes infection. 

What could HSV-2 cause if left untreated or undiagnosed?

HSV-2 is the most common infection in people with HIV. This happens because HSV-2-positive individuals have three times more chances to acquire an HIV infection. Also, women with HSV-2 could give neonatal herpes to their babies during delivery. Although it is an uncommon condition, it can cause profound disability and even death. Finally, having HSV-2 might affect an individual's psychological state because it might interfere with a person's private sex life. However, advances in treatment techniques and pharmacology can provide people with HSV-2 with fewer exacerbations. 

What else could it be?

Having bumps on the buttocks might be many things. If you are not sexually active and it is not herpes, consult your doctor and try to establish their cause. The following medical conditions could also present with bumps on the buttocks. 

Folliculitis presentation

Folliculitis, known as hot tub rash, is the inflammation of the hair follicle. Even if there is one infected hair follicle, the infection can spread to others near it as well. They look like red or pustule bumps that may turn into crusty sores if ignored and left untreated. Folliculitis is not an STD. People might get it as a reaction to a new soap, to a pool, or too tight clothing. Treatment might vary from self-care to antibiotics. 

Acne presentation

Acne can appear anywhere in your body, including on your buttocks as well. It presents as pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads, and you may also have it on your face, neck, back, and shoulders. Severe cases of acne might require antibiotics. If you are not sexually active and you have acne in other parts of your body, it might be it. However, make sure to consult your doctor. 

Heat rash presentation

Heat rash is the result of sun overexposure due to blocked pores on your skin, which trap sweat underneath. It causes itchiness and appears after exposure to the sun. Immediately cooling the skin is necessary when you notice them. The blocked pores might be the result of skin friction against the material of your clothing. 

Staphylococcus aureus presentation

The bumps caused by staphylococcus aureus might look like boils or furuncles. They cause pain if you touch them and may have pus on their inside. Most of the time, such infection requires antibiotics. Staphylococcus aureus is not something you can leave untreated. If you notice anything like that, consult your doctor as soon as possible. 

Hidradenitis suppurativa presentation

Hidradenitis suppurativa, known as acne inversa, is a medical condition that affects the apocrine glands. It presents with bumps, pustules, and fistulas. If left untreated, it results in severe scarring, which may affect even walking. Hidradenitis suppurativa might look like other conditions, such as acne of folliculitis, especially in its early stages. However, those that ignore its primary symptoms might find it hard to treat as it progresses. If you notice unusual bumps on your buttocks that do not go away on their own, make sure you consult your doctor immediately and start treatment right away. 

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Genital Herpes