Call us on 0203 5880 293
Mon - Fri, 9am to 6pm, Sat, 9am to 5pm

What causes herpes?

Dr Louisa Draper

"Triggers for herpes vary from person to person. If you think that something may be triggering a recurrence of genital herpes, speak to your doctor. "

Dr Louisa Draper

View treatments
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. HSV-1 causes cold sores on and around the mouth. HSV-2 is the virus that causes genital herpes

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

Regardless of what the triggers are, recurrences of herpes can be symptomatic (symptoms are shown) or asymptomatic (no symptoms are shown). Symptoms, which include tenderness and redness in the affected area and a bump or cluster of blisters (called vesicles) on the skin that then form sores or lesions, may also appear in slightly different places.