Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). It’s spread through skin-to-skin contact, for example during vaginal, oral or anal sex. The herpes simplex virus remains in the body for life, but it stays inactive most of the time. There are two types of herpes, HSV1 and HSV2, they can enter the body through the delicate, moist skin of the mouth, penis, vagina, and rectum.
Blisters are the main presenting symptom of herpes.
Areas you may find Herpes blisters:
- In or around the mouth, these are most commonly known as cold sores
- Sometimes they can appear in other places like thighs, butt, and other areas
Other symptoms you could experience include feeling tired with flu-like symptoms and swollen glands.
- Skin to skin contact during vaginal, anal or oral sex without condoms.
- It can be passed from mother to baby as well.
- If you kiss or have oral sex when you have cold sores on your mouth (or if you are just about to get one), you can give your partner herpes on their lips or genitals.
Testing for herpes is performed by taking a sample from a sore, or visually examining the area of concern. There are blood tests that can be used but generally not needed.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for herpes. However, there are antiviral medications available that help prevent outbreaks and manage symptoms during an outbreak to make blisters heal more quickly.