Flexi Says: A herpes infection can be caused by either herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) or herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 is spread by oral-to-oral contact and causes oral herpes. It can also cause genital herpes through oral-to-genital contact. HSV-2 is almost exclusively spread through sexual contact, causing infection in the genital area. Symptoms of herpes include painful blisters or ulcers at the site of infection which can be mild or severe.