Learn what you need to know about treating these common infections.
  • Vaginal infection
  • Bacterial infections
  • Fungal infection
  • Viral infections
  • Staph infections
 

 
 

 

Herpes Causes

Herpes is caused by a virus called the herpes simplex virus (HSV). HSV is a family of viruses called herpesviruses, which includes Epstein-Barr virus (the cause of mono) and varicella zoster virus (the cause of chicken pox and shingles). Even though there are several viruses in the herpesvirus family, each is a separate virus and is different, so having one virus does not mean you will have another.

Herpes simplex type 1 (oral herpes) and herpes simplex type 2 (genital herpes) are transmitted through secretions from the oral or genital mucosa. Once either virus enters the body, a small but permanent colony of viral particles is left behind. The viruses travel to and live in nerve roots called ganglions, which keep them safe from the body s immune system. Genital herpes live in the nerve roots at the base of the spine, while oral herpes live in nerve roots at the top of the spine. The virus will remain in the nerve roots often completely inactive (latent), but remain in the body for a lifetime, causing recurrent outbreaks that travel to the skins surface.

Once the virus becomes active after a period of inactivity, and it travels through the nerve pathways to the skin or mucous membranes, signs and symptoms can become present, though telltale signs like lesions, cold sores, pimples, and itching are not always present.

Sometimes outbreaks are overlooked because they occur in places where people don t usually look or can t see, some are mistaken for something else such as an ingrown hair, and some outbreaks simply cannot be seen at all with the naked eye.