You get herpes by direct contact with the virus. Herpes virus can be on the skin from the first warning signs until the sore is completely gone. The virus can enter the body where the skin is thin (the mouth, genital or eye areas), or where the skin is broken. If a herpes sore touches one of these thin-skinned areas on your body, a new infection can begin.

Herpes can spread from one person to another or from one part of your own body to another in this way. The virus can also be on the skin without symptoms a few days out of the year. The chances of transmitting herpes then are small, but it does happen.