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By: RSC Editorial Team

August 4, 2021

HSV1 vs. HSV2 Facts

HSV1 and HSV2 are both forms of the herpes simplex virus. This guide explains the key differences and similarities that are worth noting.

Are you worried about Herpes? The first thing that you need to understand is that there are various forms of the herpes virus. This includes everything from the most common form of the virus (HSV) to rare forms including Varicella-Zoster as well as the Human Cytomegalovirus.

Usually, when people refer to Herpes, they are either speaking about HSV1 or HSV2. Based on the names you might assume that these viruses are quite similar. However, when we look at HSV1 vs. HSV2, we will notice substantial differences. This includes how they impact the body as well as the infection rates.

HSV1 vs. HSV2 – The Basics

HSV1 and HSV2 stand for Herpes Simplex Virus 1 and Herpes Simplex Virus 2. As you might have guessed, they are both types of the herpes virus. The former is far more common than the latter. However, both are widespread. HSV2 is more common in certain countries compared to others. HSV1 on the other hand has consistently high rates across the world regardless of where you are.

Both conditions are lifelong infections. They currently have no cure. However, there are treatment options for both types of the Herpes virus. These treatments are affordable, effective, and can either limit symptoms or reduce the chances of you spreading the virus to other people.

What Is HSV1?

HSV1 is highly contagious and as previously mentioned, it's common worldwide. Typically, most infections will be acquired during childhood. You might have heard HSV1 referred to as Oral Herpes because it causes sores to appear on the mouth or facial region. However, this is one of the many STD myths floating around. HSV1 can be acquired in the genital region and this will create genital HSV1. As such, you can notice genital symptoms even if you have HSV1. There are 3.7 billion people worldwide diagnosed with this condition.

Some of the common treatment options include Famciclovir, Acyclovir, and Penciclovir.

What Is HSV2?

HSV2 is usually the cause of Genital Herpes. This virus is almost exclusively transmitted by sexual interactions. Like HSV1, the condition is not curable and will remain with the patient for the rest of their life. Treatment can be used to reduce issues with the severity as well as the frequency of symptoms. 417 million people are impacted by this condition worldwide.

The virus can be prevented by making sure that you wash your hands after touching a sore. You can also reduce the chances of developing by wearing condoms. However, it's important to be aware that condoms will not guarantee that you don't contract this condition.

It's also worth noting that while rare, HSV2 can be acquired in the facial region. This will cause oral HSV2. HSV1 and HSV2 are virtually identical producing near indistinguishable symptoms. They share 50% of the same DNA and that's why you need to make sure that you get tested if you notice the symptoms of one of these diseases.

Is HSV1 Or HSV2 More Common?

HSV1 is more common than HSV2. Recent reports suggest that HSV1 impacts about 67% of the population between the ages of 14 and 49. In contrast, the prevalence of HSV-2 is closer to 11.9%.

Symptoms of HSV1

HSV 1 shares very similar symptoms to HSV 2. The initial outbreak is far worse than any recurring outbreaks you may have. After contracting the virus, when you get your first outbreak can vary massively. It can be several days, weeks, or may even take years to show any signs.

So what are the main symptoms you may experience with your first outbreak? When it comes to HSV 1 it may feel very similar to how cold and flu symptoms affect you. Including, having a high temperature, a headache, feeling sick, having aches, pains, and sore muscles. You can end up feeling generally unwell and wiped out. You will also notice alongside these symptoms lesions on your face or genitals, these are filled with fluid and will eventually burst and crust over, this can take anything from 7 days to 3 weeks.

Once your first outbreak is over, the virus lies dormant in your system and can resurface at various points throughout your lifetime or not at all. Symptoms of recurring outbreaks will just be the fluid-filled lesions, so you won't have to deal with flu-like symptoms again. Your outbreaks will decrease over time as your body learns to fight them with new antibodies.

Symptoms Of HSV2

The symptoms of HSV2 are quite similar to HSV1. This includes painful blisters which will usually impact the genitals and may cause pain while urinating. You may also notice these blisters on the inside of your thighs and on the inside of your mouth. Before the initial outbreak, you might also notice tingling, burning, or itching at the site of the infection. Like HPV1, this version of the virus may also on rare occasions cause a fever or leave you feeling run down. Usually, the symptoms will disappear completely after a few weeks and the outbreaks will get less severe over time, as well as becoming far less frequent.

If you think you have the symptoms of an STD like this, it's always worth getting checked out using a resource such as Rapid STD Testing. This will ensure that you can get your results as quickly as possible, giving you the peace of mind you need.

What Are The Myths Surrounding HSV1 vs. HSV2?

There are numerous STD myths surrounding the Herpes Complex. For instance, you might have heard that these two conditions lead to significant complications and this is not the case. Contrary to popular belief neither have been associated with any form of cancer. Contracted HSV2 also does not mean that you are promiscuous or that you have had a lot of sexual partners. This is one of the most common STD myths. The reality is that you can contract Herpes after having just one sexual partner without any form of penetration.

We hope this helps you understand what is HSV1 vs. HSV2? As you can see, the two conditions are quite similar but there are a few key differences that are worth noting. The main difference being how common one is compared to the other as well as the treatment options available on the market. The good news is that regardless of which version you are diagnosed with, you don't have to worry about any serious symptoms. Indeed, most cases of HSV1 and HSV2 go completely undetected without any diagnosis.


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By: RSC Editorial Team
August 4, 2021

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