Differences Between Herpes Simplex I And Herpes Simplex II

Herpes is a common sexually transmitted disease that can easily be spread. Even without visible symptoms, this disease can be spread to sexual partners. There are many things to know about herpes, but you should be aware that there are two types of viruses – herpes simplex I and herpes simplex II. One out of six people in the United States between the ages of 14 and 49 have genital herpes caused by the HSV-2 infection.

HSV-1 and HSV-2 behave very similarly and can look the same under the microscope. So, what is the difference between HSV-1 and HSV-2? Are there any similarities? We’ll break down everything you need to know about the virus.

What is HSV1?

The herpes simplex I virus is often shown through cold sores and fever blisters. This virus is often called oral herpes and the sores appear around the mouth area. This type of herpes is often transmitted between people through kissing, sharing drinks or through oral sex if your partner is infected with genital herpes. HSV1 can enter the body through semen, vaginal fluid, saliva or herpes sores and blister fluid.

What is HSV2?

HSV2 is also a form of herpes that can cause cold sores on the genitals, anus and upper thighs. This is often called genital herpes. However, HSV1 can also affect the genital areas.

Similar to HSV1, HSV2 can be contracted through semen, vaginal fluid, and saliva. If someone has oral herpes, you can contract genital herpes during oral sex. This virus can also be dormant and not show any symptoms, and then become active causing sores and lesions.

Similarities between HSV1 and HSV2

Both of the herpes viruses infect the body’s mucous membranes including the mouth, genitals, nose, eyes, and ears. Once the virus enters the body through the mucous membranes, it can remain dormant in the nervous system. Through physical and emotional stimuli, the virus can then replicate and travel to the skin’s surface.

With HSV1 and HSV2 they can be spread even if symptoms are not present. In fact, with both HSV1 and HSV2 at least two-thirds of those infected do not experience any symptoms. It is hard to distinguish which strain of the virus you have between the physical symptoms.

What are the differences in Simplex II and Simplex I?

Even though both forms of herpes are similar, there are several differences. For starters, HSV1 often remains dormant near the base of the neck and causes an outbreak around the mouth or on the face. HSV2, remains dormant near the lower part of the spine and causes an outbreak around the genital area. Many people do not realize that both types of viruses can reside in both locations.

Although these viruses are not the same, they have many more similarities than differences. However, HSV1 is believed to be riskier than HSV2, but this has not been proven. HSV1 is often much milder and can just be annoying as you experience cold sores on the lips and face. However, it can spread to the eyes, and for some, it can lead to blindness. HSV2 does not pose a health threat like HSV1.

Testing and Treatment

If you believe that you have herpes it is important to visit with a doctor right away. The doctor should be able to diagnose the virus through the appearance of herpes. However, if necessary, the doctor might require lab tests.

If you are diagnosed with herpes, there is no cure. However, it can be treated to reduce the sores and pain. The medication can also help shorten the amount of time it takes to heal. Doctors may prescribe Famvir, Zovirax or Valtrex to treat the symptoms.

Prevention of Herpes

Herpes is spread through saliva and intercourse. In order to reduce your risk of contracting this infection, you should be aware of your sexual partner’s health status. If he or she has herpes, you could be at risk. It is important to use a condom every time you have sex. If you are in a long-term monogamous relationship and have both been tested, then your chance of getting herpes is much less.

As mentioned above, herpes symptoms are not always visible, so you cannot rely on looking for symptoms to determine if you or your partner is infected with the virus. That is why it is important to get tested.


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