How Long to Wait to Shave After Herpes Outbreak?


Herpes is a common virus that can cause painful sores or blisters on the skin, usually around the mouth or genitals.


If you have herpes, you might wonder if it’s okay to shave the affected area, and how long you should wait after an outbreak before shaving again.

In this article, we’ll explain what herpes is, what triggers outbreaks, and give you tips on how to safely shave if you have the virus.

We’ll also cover other ways to manage herpes symptoms and prevent future flare-ups.

How Long to Wait to Shave After Herpes Outbreak?

How Long to Wait to Shave After Herpes Outbreak



What is Herpes?

Herpes is an infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two main types of HSV:

  • HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes, with sores around the mouth and lips.
  • HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes, with sores in the genital or anal area.

However, both types can cause sores in either area. Herpes is very common. The World Health Organization estimates that 67% of people under 50 have HSV-1, and 13% of people aged 15-49 have HSV-2 worldwide.

Herpes spreads through direct contact with sores, saliva, or genital fluids of an infected person.

This can happen during kissing, oral sex, vaginal sex, or anal sex. The virus enters the body through tiny breaks in the skin or mucous membranes.

After the first infection, HSV travels to nearby nerve cells and goes dormant. It can reactivate later, traveling back to the skin and causing a new outbreak of sores.


Outbreaks usually happen less often over time, but the virus stays in the body for life.

What does a herpes outbreak look like?

Herpes sores go through several stages:

  1. Tingling, itching, or burning before sores appear.
  2. Small, painful blisters filled with clear fluid.
  3. Oozing and crusting as blisters break and scab over.
  4. Healing as scabs fall off, leaving slightly red skin.

An outbreak can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks. The first outbreak is usually the worst.

Sores typically scab and heal within 2-4 weeks, but it’s best to wait a few extra days before shaving the area.

What triggers herpes outbreaks?

Certain things can cause the dormant herpes virus to “wake up” and cause a new outbreak, including:

  • Friction from tight clothes or sex.
  • Skin irritation from shaving, waxing, or harsh soaps.
  • Hormonal changes during menstruation or pregnancy.
  • Stress and lack of sleep.
  • Other illnesses that weaken the immune system.

Shaving itself doesn’t cause herpes, but it can trigger an outbreak if you already have the virus in your body.

This is because shaving can cause tiny cuts or skin irritation, making it easier for the virus to reach the surface and cause sores.

Is it safe to shave if I have herpes?

If you have herpes, it’s best not to shave the affected area during an active outbreak.

Wait until any sores have completely scabbed over and healed, and the skin is no longer red, swollen, or painful. This usually takes 2-4 weeks.

To be extra careful, many experts recommend waiting an additional 2-3 days after the skin looks healed before shaving.


This gives skin more time to recover and reduces the risk of causing a new outbreak by irritating the area too soon.

Tips for shaving safely with herpes:

When you do start shaving again, take extra care not to cause skin irritation:

  • Always use a clean, sharp razor.
  • Soften hair with warm water and a moisturizing shave cream.
  • Shave in the direction of hair growth, not against it.
  • Use short, gentle strokes and rinse the blade often.
  • Rinse skin with cool water and apply a fragrance-free moisturizer after shaving.
  • Consider using an electric trimmer or hair removal cream as a gentler alternative to shaving.

What else can I do to prevent herpes outbreaks?

In addition to being careful with shaving, there are several other things you can do to keep herpes dormant and avoid triggering outbreaks:

  • Manage stress with relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.
  • Get enough sleep and maintain a regular sleep schedule.
  • Eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Take herpes medication as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Avoid sexual contact during outbreaks to prevent the spreading of the virus.
  • Use latex condoms during sex, even when you don’t have sores (condoms reduce but don’t completely prevent herpes transmission).
  • Wear loose, breathable clothing to minimize friction and keep the area dry.
  • Don’t touch sores and wash your hands often to avoid spreading the infection to other parts of the body or other people.

When to see a healthcare provider?

Most herpes outbreaks can be managed at home, but see a doctor or other healthcare provider if:

  • Sores are very large, painful, or spreading
  • Outbreaks are becoming more frequent or severe
  • Sores don’t start healing within 2 weeks
  • You have other symptoms like feverbody achesheadache, or swollen glands
  • You have trouble urinating due to sores
  • You think you may have infected someone else
  • Do you have questions about herpes or want to discuss treatment options

Your provider can prescribe antiviral medications to speed up healing and reduce the frequency and severity of outbreaks. They can also guide managing symptoms, preventing transmission, and coping with herpes long-term.


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Final Verdict:

If you have genital herpes, it’s best to avoid shaving the area during an active outbreak. Wait until sores have completely healed and the skin is back to normal before shaving again, which usually takes 2-4 weeks plus a few extra days.

When you do shave, use a new, sharp razor and take measures to avoid irritating the skin, like using shaving cream, shaving in the direction of hair growth, and moisturizing afterward.

Remember, while shaving can sometimes trigger an outbreak if you already have HSV, it doesn’t cause herpes itself.


Herpes is spread through direct contact with the sores or fluids of an infected person.

If you’re struggling with frequent or severe outbreaks, talk to your doctor. With the right self-care and medical treatment, it’s possible to control herpes symptoms and minimize the impact the virus has on your daily life.

Don’t let herpes hold you back from living your life to the fullest!