Difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2

We have two types of herpes simplex viruses, the HSV-1 and HSV-2 that have brought stigmatization to the infected. However, we have a significant difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both of the viruses’ cause emotional and social pain attitudes due to their symptoms. For the HSV-1 it causes oral herpes, also known as cold sores while the HSV-2 causes genital herpes.

For most people, both viruses have the same symptoms. Also, scientifically, both oral and genital herpes have almost similar genetic makeup but different DNA segments. Such DNA segments make the two viruses have different appearance and behavior. Let’s check out on the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2

Understanding HSV-1 and HSV-2

The herpes simplex has infected millions of people globally with most, not knowing which type they carry. According to recent studies, over 67% of both men and women below the age of 50 years do have HSV-1 herpes. However, the HSV-2, which is genital herpes, affects only 11% of men and women below the age of 50.  But the percentage of infected individuals varies from one county to another with America leading with high rate. However, in every country, HSV-1 has the highest and consistent number of infections.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 herpes viruses have no cure, and they are long-time infections. However, the market has a variety of affordable, safe, and highly effective medications. The medications help to suppress the symptoms of both viruses. The critical dissimilarity between HSV-1 and HSV-2 ranges from transmission and body areas they affect.

Difference between Hsv-1 and Hsv-2

Understanding of HSV-1(Oral Herpes)

HSV-1 does infect the mouth and lips, causing the development of the cold sores. It’s a common virus globally since it transmitted in childhood. Transmission happens through contact of a family member of parent infected with the virus. Majority of people do have HSV-1 meaning it’s a common virus. Thus no need to panic if diagnosed with it. Additionally, most individuals are asymptomatic meaning they carry the virus and have a high risk of spreading it.

HSV-1 causes an outbreak of painful herpes around your mouth known as cold sores. However, between outbursts, the virus lay dormant in a group of nerve cells known as trigeminal ganglion near the ear. During the outbreak, the virus causes itching, tingling, and burning sensation around the mouth area, causing painful blisters.

While it’s believed the HSV-1 affects the mouth areas, it can quickly spread to the genital areas. It happens during oral sex with an infected person without or with visible symptoms.

Understanding of HSV-2(Genital Herpes)

The HSV-2 virus affects the genital areas causing the development of lesions around and on the anus and genitals. The infection can spread during childbirth from the mother to the child and through sexual activities. However, it’s hard for the HSV-2 to spread to lips and mouth, but it can happen. it dominantly affects the genital areas.

Before outbursts, the HSV-2 virus lays dormant in the cluster of nerve cells the sacral ganglion located on the lower spine. Additionally, HSV-2 affects women more than men due to the anatomic difference making the spread easy. The current studies estimates over 287million women have HSV-2 compared to only 150million men.

Difference between Hsv1 and Hsv2

Significant Symptoms of Oral and Genital herpes

Both genital and oral herpes have similar symptoms. With HSV-2 affecting the genital areas while the HSV-1 dominantly attack the mouth and lips.

HSV-1 Symptoms

Oral herpes produces cold sores with the first initial outbreak happening after catching the virus. The first outbreak has intense results that feature flu-like symptoms and cold sores around the mouth and lips.  Moreover, the first outbreaks last around two to three weeks, causing open sores to develop. The open wounds spread infectious fluid that can infect other people before it heals.

After the first outbreaks, the virus lays dormant for some months until various factors trigger it. Such factors include lifestyle and stress. Also, the explosions depend on the infected individual lifestyle with some having frequent epidemics than others. Although very rare, oral herpes may cause genital herpes. In such a case, the virus infects individual lower spine nerve cells causing sores around and on the genitals.

HSV-2  Symptoms

The HSV-2 causes genital herpes. The first initial outbreak happens after being infected with the virus with the symptoms being similar to those of HSV-1. Symptoms get albeit localized on a person genitals instead of the lips and moth. The HSV-2 most notable symptoms include causing sores around the genital, upper thigh area, groin, and around the anus.

Moreover, during the initial outbreak of HSV-2 other symptoms may manifests, such as fatigue, headache, nausea, and glandular swelling. Most people infected with genital herpes mistake the addition of symptoms for flu before the lesions become visible.

Like the HSV-1, the HSV-2 initial outbreak lasts for around two to three weeks. Also, many people infected with HSV-2 don’t experience any visible symptoms at all. Hence this results to HSV-2 positive people remaining unaware of their status.

The significant dissimilarity between HSV-1 and HSV-2

The most notable difference between oral and genital herpes lies in the position it establishes its dominance in your body. HSV-1 has its dominance around the back of your ear nerve cells. Moreover, viral shedding occurs on the mouth or face.

Conversely, HSV-2 establishes its dominance around the lower base of your spine nerve cells. Its journey starts from the spine, recurring around the person genital area. But in most rare causes both the viruses may reside in oral and genital areas.

HSV-1 tends to riskier than HSV-2 since it spread faster and may lead to neurological disorder and blindness. Furthermore, both viruses also affect pregnant women making mother, child infection rate high. For the HSV-1 the baby infection rate has a percentage of 30-50% while for the HSV-2 portion is 1%

Treating Genital and Oral Herpes

Treating HSV-1 and HSV-2 becomes manageable with the right medication, lifestyle, and support. Taking antiviral medicines like valacyclovir and acyclovir helps to reduce infection risk. Also, medication helps it control outbreaks symptoms by suppressing the virus.

The significant difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2 enables you to understand your status better. Keep in mind your condition doesn’t define your personality. HSV-1 may cause visible sores affecting your confidence while HSV-2 affects your sexual confidence.


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