What are genital sores?

Genital sores are frequently due to sexually transmitted infections. Some are painful, although they may also be painless. Some are red, while others may be flesh-colored. Other symptoms, such as discharge, burning with urination, or itching, may also occur.

Not all sexually transmitted infections cause genital sores; the ones that most commonly do are genital herpes and syphilis. Herpes typically causes clusters of painful red blisters that may be itchy. Syphilis may be associated with a solitary, painless, red sore on the genitals that may be followed by a rash on the hands and feet. Lymphogranuloma venereum, granuloma inguinale, and chancroid, which are rare in the United States, are other sexually transmitted infections that can cause genital sores. Pubic lice and scabies can also be spread sexually. Scratching can cause rash-like scabs and sores.

Behcet’s syndrome is a disease characterized by inflammation of blood vessels that results in problems throughout the body; sores on the genital areas are a common symptom of this condition.

Treatment of genital sores depends upon their cause. Syphilis, lymphogranuloma venereum, granuloma inguinale, and chancroid can all be treated with antibiotics. Herpes is not curable, but treatments are available that can help manage symptoms. Pubic lice and scabies are typically treated with topical solutions. Sexual partners should be notified and treated as appropriate.

Sometimes genital sores can be accompanied by conditions that can have serious or even life-threatening complications. Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you have a high fever (higher than 101 degrees Fahrenheit) or severe abdominal or pelvic pain.

Since many causes of genital sores are treatable, and because they can be spread to other people or lead to significant complications, if you develop genital sores, you should seek prompt medical care.


What other symptoms might occur with genital sores?

Genital sores may accompany other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition. Conditions that cause genital sores can cause other genital symptoms or affect other body systems.

Genital symptoms that may occur along with genital sores

Genital sores may accompany other symptoms affecting the genitals including:


What causes genital sores?

Genital sores are frequently caused by sexually transmitted infections, although other conditions can occasionally cause genital sores.

Sexually transmitted causes of genital sores

Genital sores may be caused by sexually transmitted infections including:

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Aug 23, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Sexual Health

Top Features in Sexual Health

Popular Sexual Health Slide Show

15 Ways To Get Better Medicine

People who are actively involved in their medical care stay healthier, recover quicker when they're ill, and live longer, healthier lives.