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Approach to the patient with genital ulcers

Sonia N Chimienti, MD
Donna Felsenstein, MD
Section Editor
Noreen A Hynes, MD, MPH, DTM&H
Deputy Editor
Jennifer Mitty, MD, MPH


Genital ulcers may be due to an infectious or a noninfectious etiology, although most are caused by sexually transmitted infections. Most genital ulcer disease is caused by herpes simplex virus; however the prevalence of other pathogens differs by geographic location. Determining the etiology of a genital ulcer is complicated by the fact that more than one infection may coexist. In addition, the presence of genital ulcers is a risk factor for the transmission of HIV. The challenge for the clinician is to determine the cause of the genital ulcers in order to institute appropriate therapy and to decrease the risk of transmission to others.

The approach to the patient with genital ulcers is discussed below. More detailed information regarding the individual diseases can be found in the relevant topic reviews:

(See "Syphilis: Screening and diagnostic testing".)

(See "Syphilis: Epidemiology, pathophysiology, and clinical manifestations in HIV-uninfected patients".)

(See "Syphilis: Treatment and monitoring".)

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: Sep 07, 2016.
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