Herpes is a general term that describes both oral herpes and genital herpes. This infection is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV) and it affects the external genitalia, anal region, mucosal surfaces, as well as skin in other parts of the body. There are two different types of herpes, including HSV-1 (type 1) and HSV-2 (type 2).
Types of Herpes
HSV-1 causes herpes infections that result in lesions, or cold sores, around the mouth. This type of herpes is spread through kissing or sharing cups. Symptoms include burning and itching as well as slightly raised lesions that are red or blistered. More than 50 percent of people in the U.S. have HSV-1.
HSV-2 causes genital sores, however, it does not always cause symptoms, especially in men. When symptoms occur, they occur as pain in or around the vagina or penis. This pain may be more noticeable when urinating or during sexual activity. Sores are typically red, crusty, or fluid-filled. This type of herpes is sexually transmitted, and roughly 15.5 percent of people in the U.S. ages 14-49 have HSV-2.
In both types of herpes, it is common for symptoms to appear, resolve, and recur for years without treatment.
Herpes viruses are highly contagious and spread through direct contact.
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