Herpes infection can cause blisters (vesicles) in the mouth or genitals and is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. Since there is no cure for herpes, an infection can cause periodic outbreaks throughout life. Doing a herpes test allows people infected with the virus to take measures to avoid infecting others and managing symptoms.
Ampoule culture and DNA analysis
One type of test for herpes is to take a sample of fluid or a scraping of one of the blisters. This material can be grown to obtain the herpes virus, or it can be analyzed by a laboratory that looks for the specific DNA of herpes. A positive result in this test means that the herpes virus is present and is actively replicating in the vesicle. One of the drawbacks of the test is the need for the person analyzed to have an area with vesicles at the time.
Blood tests can be used to investigate the presence of herpes. These tests look for antibodies the body makes in response to herpes infection. Since these antibodies remain in the blood for a long time after the initial infection, blood tests can help determine if a person has been exposed to the virus. However, these tests can not determine if a person has an active herpes infection.