Herpes Simplex Virus

Herpes simplex virus (HSV) or “herpes” is a viral infection. Oral herpes causes cold sore lesions around the mouth and lips. Genital herpes causes blister-like fluid-filled sores in the genital area, on the buttocks, or anal region. HSV spreads through direct contact with an infected person. 

There are two types of HSV.  

  • HSV-1 is most commonly the cause of cold sores, but it may also affect the genital area. It can be spread through oral sex.
  • HSV-2 is the usual cause of genital herpes but can infect the mouth. 

Risk factors for HSV include:

  • Multiple sex partners
  • Having sex at a younger age
  • Being female
  • Having another STI
  • A weakened immune system

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Signs and symptoms of HSV include:

  • Blistering sores in the mouth or genitals
  • Pain during urination
  • Itching
  • Flu-like symptoms with fever, headache, and swollen lymph nodes

Herpes may be diagnosed during a physical exam. Your healthcare provider may do additional HSV testing with a lab blood test or by taking a swab from sores that are present. 

There is no cure for HSV, but treatment options to prevent outbreaks are available. Anti-viral medications reduce the risk of transmission and decrease the length and severity of herpes outbreaks. 

If you believe you may have symptoms of or have been exposed to herpes, our providers will ensure proper testing and treatment.