Cold sores are caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of herpes simplex virus: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both virus types can cause sores around the mouth (herpes labialis) and on the genitals (genital herpes). TL;DR: Yes, cold sores are herpes. And yes, they can spread to the genitals, which means they can become genital herpes. There are two forms of the herpes simplex virus (HSV), herpes simplex-1 and herpes simplex-2.
Cold Sores-topic Overview