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What is the difference between HSV1 and HSV2?

Mar 27, 2023

What is the difference between HSV1 and HSV2?

We know that herpes is a tough topic to talk about, but there’s something about this virus that more people ought to know. The truth is, there are actually two types of it, and they impact different parts of your body. If you didn’t know that already, don’t beat yourself up about it because, trust us, many people don’t know this. Fortunately, we’ve got your back! We’re going to explain the two types of herpes, known as HSV-1 and HSV-2, so you know how they’re different.   

 

The Herpes Simplex Virus  

The herpes simplex virus, also known as HSV, is the virus that causes herpes. HSV is divided into two broad categories, with the first category being oral herpes or HSV-1 and the second category being genital herpes or HSV-2.  

 

How Are HSV-1 and HSV-2 Similar?  

Before we jump into how HSV-1 and HSV-2 are different, we’ll first explain how they’re similar. To start, both spread from skin-to-skin contact with someone who has the virus. Second, there are no vaccines to stop the transmission of either type of herpes. Third, you should also know that they are both highly contagious. Lastly, many people never get tested and are entirely asymptomatic, which means many people have it and don’t know.   

 

How Are HSV-1 and HSV-2 Different? 

Now that we’ve established their similarities, let’s jump into what makes them different.  

 

How Are They Transmitted?

 

HSV-1, or oral herpes, is typically spread from oral-to-oral contact, like kissing or sharing utensils. You might be surprised to know that close to 50 percent of adults have HSV-1 worldwide, so it’s pretty common. However, here’s something interesting. While HSV-1 prefers to live near the mouth, it can still spread to the genitals if someone with a cold sore has oral sex.   

 

When people hear the word herpes, they’re usually thinking about HSV-2. This strain of the herpes simplex virus is usually transmitted from having genital and/or anal contact during sex and is especially infectious when active sores are present. Statistics tell us that more than 10 percent of Americans under 50 have genital herpes, but we know these numbers may be underestimated. Like the other type of herpes, HSV-2 can spread to the mouth if you have oral sex with someone that has genital herpes.  

 

What Are The Signs and Symptoms? 

If you’re infected with HSV-1, you’ll notice cold sores or fever blisters inside or around your mouth. For some people, cold sores are only a minor inconvenience. For others, they may cause significantly more discomfort. However, after a few weeks, they should go away on their own, but they may come back again in the future.  

 

With HSV-2, however, blisters and ulcers on a woman may appear on the anus, cervix, vagina, vulva, or inside of your thighs. In addition, it is generally more painful than HSV-1. Generally, the first herpes outbreak is the most unpleasant, and many experience flu-like symptoms. Those with a new infection might have headaches, become feverish, experience body aches, and have swollen lymph nodes. It’s also not uncommon to experience burning while you pee or trouble peeing altogether. After the first outbreak, your symptoms should become less severe and more manageable.   

 

Prevention of HSV-1 and HSV-2 

To prevent getting HSV-1, it’s best to avoid oral contact with others, especially if a cold sore is present. In addition, you should avoid sharing objects that have had contact with saliva.  

 

To prevent the spread of HSV-2, it’s best to practice safe sex with condoms and avoid sexual activity during an active outbreak. Although this prevention method is not always perfect, as you could still shed small amounts of the virus at any time, it’s helpful. In addition, those with herpes should disclose their status to a new sexual partner. We know having the conversation is challenging, but we want to allow others to make informed choices.  

 

Treatment of HSV-1 and HSV-2 

Many drugs, like antiviral medications, can help treat an outbreak of the herpes simplex virus or even lessen the likelihood that you’ll have an outbreak. Certain drugs may also reduce the risk of you or your partner passing herpes to one another. There are also over-the-counter options, like FemiClear’s symptom relief ointment, that help with tingling and itching. However, once you have either type of herpes, there is no cure. It will always be in your body, dormant until the next outbreak.  

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