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The Difference between Genital and Oral Herpes


Herpes is an extremely common and rampant spreading virus. This virus infects the mucous membranes and skin causing blisters that turn into sores. The two common types of herpes viruses are known as the herpes simplex virus-type 1 (HSV-1) and the herpes simplex virus-type 2 (HSV-2).

HSV-1 is responsible for oral herpes while HSV-2 causes genital herpes.

Differences between the Two Types of Herpes


One of the main differences between HSV-1 and HSV-2 is the symptoms each one produces. Both of these virus types cause sores...

  • Sores form around the mouth, lips and face with HSV-1 and in the genital area with HSV-2.
  • Another difference between the two types is the age at which most become infected. HSV-1 can be contracted easily at nearly any age. It is estimated that 80 percent of the population in the United States will come into contact with the herpes virus by the age of 25.
    HSV-2 spreads via sexual contact and usually only affects sexually active teens and young adults.

These two types of herpes viruses also differ based on where the virus nests…

  • The herpes simplex virus type-1 nest in the trigeminal ganglion. This is nerve cells behind the ear. Because of this location, eruptions occur in the facial region.
  • The herpes simplex virus type-2 nest in the region of the sacral ganglion. These are nerves at the base of the spine. This is the reason why outbreaks occur in the genital area of those with HSV-2.

Both types of herpes can however erupt into outbreaks in either area, i.e. behind the ear or base of the spine; however, this is rare.


Additionally, once a person has been exposed to HSV-1, they may also contract the HSV-2 virus. Those who contracted HSV-2 first will usually develop immunity to the herpes simplex virus-type 1. This is not always the case, but has been seen in many individuals with genital herpes.


Some Additional Information


Correct information and disease management can help to prevent the spread of herpes. Treatment should be acquired as soon as a person thinks they may have been in contact with this virus. Treatment will usually consist of antiviral medication.


A person with oral herpes can spread this virus causing genital herpes by performing oral sex. Any infected individuals should refrain from sexual contact during an outbreak.


Outbreaks can be extremely uncomfortable and painful. Some people will have outbreaks once or twice a month while others may only have several outbreaks a year. Treatment will suppress the virus causing fewer outbreaks to occur, and the severity of the outbreaks to lessen. Although HSV-1 and HSV-2 have their differences, neither has a cure. Both will remain in the body of the infected person for the rest of their lives. Infected individuals must constantly strive to prevent the spread of this virus to others.

The spread of herpes is on the rise with more and more people becoming infected each day; with teens having sex at younger ages and adding to these statistics.

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