If you have ever had a cold sore, it is a type of herpes and is more common than you think. The herpes simplex virus causes blisters and sores on the body. There are many types of herpes, but the most common are Herpes Simplex 1 (HSV1) and Herpes Simplex 2 (HSV2). HSV can infect any part of the body including the mouth, genitals, and general skin areas. The virus can be life-threatening in those who are immunocompromised and in newborn infants. In the United States, there is a high prevalence of HSV in everyone. By the age of 30, around 50-80% of people have been exposed to the virus, and the virus tends to affect women more than men. Herpes simplex virus is a latent virus, which means it remains dormant in the nerves of the body without causing any noticeable symptoms for a long time. However, the virus may become active at any time from triggers such as stress, illness, exposure to cold or sunlight, or low immunity.
Herpes virus often will not present with any symptoms and people may not know they have the virus. When a person experiences an outbreak, he or she may experience tingling, itching, or burning and will break out in sores or blisters. Specific symptoms of the two main types of herpes are discussed in the following section.