Herpes is a group of viruses; the two most known are herpes simplex, and herpes zoster.
Herpes simplex infection is common; it causes the common cold sore or fever blister. Most cold sores are caused by herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). HSV-2 is a closely related herpes simplex virus, it causes most cases of genital herpes. But either HSV-1 or HSV-2 can cause a herpes sore on the face or genitals.
Once the herpes simplex virus affects you, it remains in your body. The good news is that sores often clear without treatment. The treatment can relieve symptoms and shorten the duration of the outbreak.
Most people are treated with an antiviral medicine. An antiviral cream or ointment can relieve the burning, itching, or tingling. An antiviral medicine that is oral (pills) can shorten an outbreak of herpes. These medications are usually taken daily for a few days; they can reduce the severity and frequency of outbreaks. They also can help prevent infected people from spreading the virus.
Reactivation of the chicken pox virus, which remains dormant in the body for years results in herpes zoster (shingles). Shingles is also a self-limited condition that does not require treatment, unless there is severe burning, or the affected person has a weak immune system.