Herpes is a highly contagious disease that causes sores on the genitals and/or the mouth. The skin may burn, itch or become inflamed. If you notice sores or any of these symptoms, it is important to see a physician for diagnosis and information about how to control herpes outbreaks and avoid spreading the virus to others.

What Causes Herpes?

Herpes simplex 1 is usually responsible for cold sores on the mouth and lips, while Herpes simplex 2 is usually responsible for genital herpes. However, both viruses may cause both cold sores and genital herpes.

How It's Spread

The virus usually enters the body through cracks in the skin around the lips and mouth or through contact with an infected person's saliva, kissing an infected person or by sharing forks, spoons, cups, razors, etc. with an infected person.

Genital herpes are usually spread through sexual intercourse with an infected person. It may also be spread through oral or anal sex. Genital herpes is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD), affecting an estimated 20 to 25% of the adult and adolescent population. Herpes may also be spread from mother to child during birth if the mother has an active infection.

Asking sexual partners if they have any sexually transmitted diseases is a good way to avoid herpes and other STDs. However, as you cannot expect everybody to be forthcoming about STDs, practicing safe sex and always wearing a condom during sexual contact may also be helpful.