What is it?

The virus which causes herpes stays in the body for life and symptoms can re-occur when people are unwell, pregnant or under stress. Herpes is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the Herpes Simplex Virus. Herpes is easily transmitted through sexual contact.

There are two types of the virus:

  • Simplex 1 - causes cold sores on the face
  • Simplex 2 - causes sores on the genitals

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include:

  • Painful sores or blisters on the mouth, anus and/or male and female genitals
  • Pain when passing urine (peeing)
  • Flu-like symptoms, including high temperature and headaches. However these symptoms only occur when you experience the sores for the first time.

If you have any of these symptoms you should get them checked out immediately as they may mean you are infected with the virus.

How do I get tested?

Visit your GP or find your nearest sexual health clinic using our services page.

Can it be treated?

Herpes simplex 1 is treated with a cream when symptoms appear on the lips of the mouth.

Herpes simplex 2 is usually treated with medication in tablet form. There is no complete cure because the virus stays in the blood stream.

How can I prevent it?

If you have an outbreak of herpes, the blisters and sores are highly infectious and the virus can be passed on to others by skin contact. To prevent this from happening you should avoid kissing when you or your partner have cold sores around the mouth and avoid having vaginal, anal or oral sex when you or your partner have mouth or genital sores.

While using a condom may help to prevent spreading genital herpes, the condom only covers the penis. There is still a risk of the virus spreading from the surrounding area.


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