What causes herpes?

What causes herpes?

Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus. Both men and women can get herpes. It is very contagious and is spread through sexual and skin-to-skin contact. 

Two types of herpes simplex virus infections can cause herpes, HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both cause cold sores on and around the mouth or cause genital herpes

The virus spreads through skin to skin contact commonly when having vaginal sex, anal sex and oral sex. Once you have the herpes virus it stays in your body for life and symptoms can flare up at any time. This usually happens because certain triggers can ‘reactivate’ the virus, which is known as a ‘recurrence’.

Outbreaks of herpes are symptomatic. Symptoms, include burning, itching, stinging, tenderness and redness of the affected area as well as bumps or clusters of blisters (called vesicles) on the skin. These may then form ulcers or sores.

Last reviewed: 09/04/2020 by Dr Simran Deo