Herpes (Genital)


This is a common viral infection. It causes small sores on or around your genitals, your buttocks or your anal area. They can also form around your mouth.


Genital herpes can be caused by two forms of the herpes simplex virus. The most common cause is herpes simplex type 2. We call it "HSV-2." But sores on your genitals can also be caused by the oral herpes virus, known as herpes simplex type 1 or "HSV-1." These viruses can spread to your genitals by direct contact with an infected person. Herpes can spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex. You can get it from skin-to-skin contact with an infected person, even if they don't have a sore at that time.


Before your first outbreak, you may have flu-like symptoms. And then you get one or more small, red blisters on your genitals, buttocks or around your anus. It may burn when you urinate. The sores break open, crust over and go away. They don't leave scars. Your first outbreak may last two to four weeks. Before later outbreaks, you may feel burning, itching or tingling before you get blisters. You may have pain in your lower back, buttocks, thighs or knees. And then you get blisters, but they go away more quickly than they did the first time. As you get older, your outbreaks may be less and less severe.


Genital herpes can't be cured. But it can be managed with medicines that fight the virus. Medications can help reduce your symptoms. They can help you have fewer outbreaks, and make it harder for you to pass the virus to someone else. Your healthcare provider can create a plan that is right for you.