How Do You Get Herpes?

Herpes is transmitted through a sexual encounter or direct contact with a lesion or the body fluid of an infected individual.

Genital herpes

Genital herpes, which is caused by herpes simplex virus, causes sores and blisters in and around the genital area and anus and on the buttocks. Genital herpes is very common and highly contagious whether or not you have an open sore. However, in many people the infection causes no recognized signs or symptoms and yet can still be spread to a sexual partner. For example, virus from the mouth can infect the genitals and virus from the genitals can infect the mouth.

The herpes virus can also infect other parts of the body. It can live inside nerve cells and cause symptoms that occur again and again. Because the virus dies quickly outside of the body, it’s nearly impossible to get the infection through contact with toilets, towels or other objects used by an infected person.

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV), of which there are two types — HSV-1 and HSV-2. Most genital herpes infections are caused by HSV-2. Less often, HSV-1 can cause genital herpes infections through oral sexual contact. The genital sores caused by either virus look very similar.

Oral herpes

Oral herpes is the usual cause of what most people call “fever blisters” or “cold sores” in and around the mouth and can be transmitted from person to person through kissing sharing a tooth brush, drinking glass, food utensils or cigarettes. And it can be spread to your genital area during oral sex. HSV-1 causes about one-third of new genital infections.

Here are some of the things that can cause a recurrence of cold sores or fever blister:

  • Stress
  • Sun (Exposure of the area to strong sunlight)
  • Incorrect diet
  • Fever
  • Menstruation Cycle
  • Fatigue (not getting enough rest)
  • Being run-down
  • Pregnancy
  • Drinking a lot of alcohol
  • Ultraviolet light
  • Skin irritation (such as sunburn)
  • Certain foods
  • Temperature extremes
  • Diet