Herpes is a virus that can cause disease in both female and male genitalia. There are two types of herpes virus, respectively Herpes Simplex 1 and Herpes Simplex 2. In active disease, herpes is easily transmitted to a partner during sexual activity. Genital herpes disease is not dangerous in itself in otherwise healthy patients but can cause painful and distressing outbreaks. There is no curative treatment for herpes, but the symptoms can be alleviated and the duration of the disease shortened.

What is herpes?

Herpes is a virus, and about 30% of the adult population are carriers. There are two types, HSV1 and HSV2. HSV1 is primarily associated with mouth ulcers, but easily infects the genitals and can also cause genital outbreaks. Recurrence (relapse) is less common with HSV1, however.

HSV2 is associated with more frequent genital outbreaks. Herpes virus is the most common cause of genital sores. Not everyone who is infected with herpes will have an outbreak and it seems to be random who gets this. If you are first infected with herpes, the virus will remain in the body for the rest of your life. Herpes virus collects in sores and blisters during outbreaks and this is transmitted to the partner during intercourse, oral sex, kissing or other physical contact.


In herpes outbreaks, sores and blisters occur on and in the area around the genitals.

For women, this includes the outer and inner labia, the vulva and, in some cases, the outer parts of the vagina. Changes may also occur in the area around the rectal opening.

For men, ulcers can occur on the penis, the foreskin, the outer part of the urethra and the area around the root of the penis and the anus.

The wounds are painful, and some will also feel a general feeling of illness, with fever, reduced general condition and muscle aches.

How to prevent herpes

Herpes is highly contagious during an ongoing outbreak, i.e. when there are open sores or blisters that come into contact with a partner. It is recommended to avoid sexual contact during outbreaks. Condoms will have a limited effect. Herpes is not contagious in the latent phase.


FAQs about herpes

I am pregnant and have had a herpes outbreak. Will this have consequences for my child?

If you were to have an ongoing outbreak at birth, there is a high probability (30-50%) that you will infect the child. Neonatal herpes infection can be serious and will require treatment in a specialist health service. The risk of infecting children with latent disease is low and requires no follow-up beyond usual prenatal care.

I have had herpes outbreaks. Can I infect my partner?

You will not infect your partner as long as you do not have an outbreak.

How do I know this is herpes?

The doctor will take a sample for PCR from the wound fluid. This will confirm or deny the diagnosis.

I'm pretty sure I have herpes. Can I get treatment before I get an answer to PCR?

If the doctor finds it likely that you have herpes, we will start treatment before the test results exist unless there is a good reason not to.

Can I infect my partner when I have herpes cold sores?

Yes. The herpes virus lies in the sores and will spread to the partner through physical contact.

Can herpes be transmitted through anal sex?


How long does the treatment take?

5-10 days, depending on the intensity of the outbreak.

What does it mean to have latent herpes?

This means that the person in question is infected with herpes, but as of now does not have an ongoing outbreak.

I have had my first herpes outbreak. How often can I expect that I will receive an outbreak?

40% of women will have recurrent outbreaks in the first year. The figure is somewhat lower for men.

How can Dr.Dropin help you?

The doctors at Dr.Dropin have good experience in dealing with herpes. First of all, we will take samples from current changes and confirm the diagnosis. During outbreaks, antivirals can treat, preferably tablets, shorten the duration of the illness and relieve the patient's discomfort. Such treatment is offered where there is no good reason not to. We also have the opportunity to relieve pain with the right tools.

Patients with frequent outbreaks will be considered too fixed treatment. In case of severe outbreaks, you will be referred to the specialist health service.

General Practitioner

At Dr.Dropin our experienced GPs provide a wide range of primary care services, similar to those provided by the NHS, either in the clinic or through video consultations.


At Dr.Dropin, you will receive specialist care from our expert Consultant Dermatologists provided by skindoc. With extensive experience from both public and private hospitals, we can assess and treat most chronic and acute skin disorders – either in the clinic, through video, or via a photo upload service.