Herpes is a viral infection caused by a virus called HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus). It often causes blisters on the skin around your mouth or lip or on your genitals. Once the blisters have passed, the virus stays with you, and can reappear sometimes (often when you get sick, or if you are stressed in some way). If the blisters are around your mouth, they can sometimes be called cold-sores, or fever blisters. Around your genitals or anus, they are normally called genital herpes.

Normally, people are most likely to transmit the infection when they have the blisters present, or just before they emerge. Some people feel an itchy or burning sensation just before the blisters, while other people may not know they are there at all.

Herpes cannot be cured: once you have the virus, it is with you for life. But it’s important to know how common it is: around 70% of the world’s population carry some sort of HSV!

There are treatments that can help with HSV – either to try to prevent an outbreak of the blisters, or to help make them heal faster. Check in with a doctor or your sexual health clinic for some details.