However, HSV type 1 can cause genital herpes, usually caused by oral-genital sexual contact with a person who has the oral HSV-1 infection, and HSV type 2 can cause cold sores. Oral Herpes (HSV-1, Herpes Simplex Virus-1) Causes. In addition, skin contact with the lesions on an infected individual can spread the disease to another individual. Both viruses, however, can cause breakouts in both areas, if one is infected on that area. Herpes is always transmitted through oral or genital contact with the virus. When you do decide to bring up herpes, keep the conversation relatively brief, offer to answer any questions, and say you’re willing to provide more information or go on the Web together to read about it.