We couldn't access your location, please search for a location. Search Please fill out this field. Herpes is a common infection. Herpes is a super-common infection that stays in your body for life. More than half of Americans have oral herpes, and about 1 out of 6 Americans has genital herpes. Herpes is caused by two different but similar viruses: Both kinds can make sores pop up on and around your vulva, vagina, cervix, anus, penis, scrotum, butt, inner thighs, lips, mouth, throat, and rarely, your eyes.
Herpes is spread from skin-to-skin contact with infected areas, often during vaginal sex, oral sex, anal sex, and kissing. Herpes causes outbreaks of itchy, painful blisters or sores that come and go. People with herpes have relationships, have sex, and live perfectly healthy lives.
Because there are 2 different kinds of herpes simplex viruses HSV-1 and HSV-2 that can live on many body parts, lots of people are confused about what to call these infections. Oral herpes sores are sometimes called cold sores or fever blisters. HSV-1 usually causes oral herpes, and HSV-2 usually causes genital herpes — each strain prefers to live on its favorite area.
For example, you can get HSV-1 on your genitals if someone with a cold sore on their lips gives you oral sex. How do you get herpes? Herpes is easily spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. All it takes is some quick skin-to-skin touching.
You can also get herpes from kissing someone who has oral herpes. The skin on your genitals, mouth, and eyes can be infected easily. Sometimes herpes can be passed in non-sexual ways, like if a parent with a cold sore gives you a peck on the lips. Most people with oral herpes got it when they were kids. You can spread herpes to other parts of your body if you touch a herpes sore and then touch your mouth, genitals, or eyes without washing your hands first.
You can also pass herpes to someone else this way. Herpes is most contagious when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus.