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What’s the difference? Herpes Type 1 and Type 2

February 07, 2017


You hear the word “herpes” and it triggers all kinds of emotions because there is a stigma associated with the std & virus. Then to learn there are two types of herpes? Yikes, how do you know which it is and what to do? Here’s the scoop on how patients get the virus and how it’s treated.

One or two?

When you first notice a nasty outbreak of blisters or sores, all you know is that it’s painful. Herpes type 1 is categorized as HSV-1 or oral herpes, typically seen on the lips and mouth. People refer to the outbreaks as cold sores or fever blisters. HSV-2 is usually below the belt, around the genitals or rectum.

The big difference

So you’re probably thinking one kind of herpes shouts “sexually transmitted disease!” in large font, and the other doesn’t. Well, yes, but the true difference between the two types is the risk of recurrence.

Sometimes HSV-1 will pop up in the genital area, and there are also cases of HSV-2 occurring on the mouth. When this happens, the outbreaks don’t usually repeat, because the virus typically thrives only in its native habitat. Once it visits above or below the belt, it has been there and done that.

But if a patient has oral HSV-1, he or she may have another outbreak or, sorry to say, get outbreaks several times a year. Just know that there are prescription medications that can make the HSV-1 oral herpes go away within 2 days. There are also medications to decrease the length of symptoms for HSV-2 (genital herpes), so it is important to see a doctor quickly.

What to do if you think you have herpes

Click here to book an appointment at Innovative Express Care. While herpes is a virus and cannot be cured, it is important to get a proper diagnosis and get treatment for the painful and itchy outbreak. And although herpes isn’t a major health risk, it can be a dangerous infection in newborns. Thus, pregnant women who think they might be infected should be tested.

Photo Source: Gabriel Herrera

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