HSV – The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2
Do you know what the difference is between the two types of HSV viruses?
Are Herpes I and Herpes II the same virus? That is an interesting question and one that deserves an answer.
It seems that the two, although treated differently by attitude, are essentially the same virus. Under a microscope, they are exact carbon copies of each other.
Both viruses are virtually identical, sharing approximately 50 percent of their DNA. If they are so much alike, then is it possible to spread them both to different areas of the body or are they restricted to the part of the body where we have them? Why is there a definite stigma that’s applied to genital herpes but not to oral herpes?
To answer those questions its valuable to know some basic information about oral and genital herpes.
HSV-1, or Type 1 Herpes, is known as oral herpes.
HSV-2, or Type 2 Herpes, is known as genital herpes.
Herpes Virus - The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2
Both types infect the body's mucosal surfaces, usually orally or genitally, and then establish latency in the nervous system. For both types, at least 2/3 of infected people have no symptoms, or their symptoms are too mild to notice. Both types can reoccur and spread even when no symptoms are present.
Type 1 Herpes usually establishes latency in the trigeminal ganglion, a collection of nerve cells found near the ear. From there, it tends to recur on the lower lip or on the face.
Type 2 Herpes usually establishes itself in the sacral ganglion located at the base of the spine. From there, it recurs in the genitalia.
This difference is not absolute as either type can reside in either or both parts of the body and infect oral and/or genital areas. They only differ by the part of the body that they usually infect.
Unfortunately, many people aren't aware of this, which contributes both to the spread of Type 1 and to the misconception that the two types are fundamentally different. Most ordinary people don't understand that although you can have type 1 genitally or orally, that these two types are essentially the same virus.
One type is associated with a ‘stigma’, the other simply considered 'a cold sore’.
Cold sores are society's euphemism for oral herpes so we don't even have to acknowledge that it's really 'herpes'.
If you have Type 1, you can infect someone with it genitally. Likewise, if you have Type 2, you can give it to someone orally.
However, Type 1 prefers to live in the oral area, just as Type 2 prefers to live in the genital area.
If Herpes spreads outside its area it prefers to be, outbreaks tend to be mild and usually go away quickly. The percentage of times the herpes virus is spread outside the site of origin is very low. It happens very infrequently, but it does happen.
The problem with Type 1 is that it can also spread to the eye, the brain, the finger, and also the chest. Therefore Type 1 might actually be more infectious and more of a significant type of infection than Type 2.
By comparison, Type 2 is widely believed to be a painful, dangerous infection that affects only people with overly active sex lives. In reality however, some 22% of American adults from all backgrounds, income levels, and ethnic groups have Type 2.
Like Herpes 1, Herpes 2 is usually mild; so mild that 2/3 of infected people don't even know they have it. HSV-2 rarely causes complications or spreads to other parts of the body. It is the most common cause of neonatal herpes, a rare but dangerous infection in newborns.
It's striking to note however, that Type 1 actually causes up to 1/3 of neonatal infections.
Another difference in the viruses is that Type 1 usually attacks the body by an early age. Type 2 does not usually occur until later.
In the case of oral HSV-1, most of the approximately 100 million Americans who are infected acquired the virus when they were children. By the time they're adults, only some 5 percent of people aren’t even bothered enough to consider oral Herpes 1 a medical problem.
On the other hand, almost all of the approximately 40 million Americans infected with Type 2 acquired the virus as teenagers or adults. In the first year, those who have recurring outbreaks experience an average of 4-6 episodes. Over time, just as with oral infections, the number of outbreaks usually diminishes.
Just how much of a physical problem HSV poses for a person depends largely on how well the person's immune response is able to control the infection.
Differences in immunity may be the main reason that some people are bothered by frequent cold sores or genital herpes outbreaks while others are not. Since infants have very little immunity from any kind of virus, it makes herpes very dangerous for them.
Which HSV Type is More Contagious?
Is one type is more contagious than the other? The answer is no really.
Both viral types are easily transmitted to their site of preference and can be spread to other sites.
Both are most contagious during active outbreaks, but are often spread through viral shedding when there are no recognizable symptoms.
People with recurrent oral HSV-1 shed virus in their saliva about 5 percent of the time even when they show no symptoms.
In the first year of infection, people with genital HSV-2 shed the virus from the genital area about 6-10 percent of days when they show no symptoms, and less often over time.
The more frequently the herpes infection occurs, the more resistance a person will have to it later. That's good news for people who have had the outbreaks for some time, but not so good news for people who have just discovered they have the virus!
There is only a stigma applied to genital herpes because of it's association with 'having sex' with multiple partners. In all actuality however, there are more complications associated with HSV-1, not HSV-2.
Its all a matter of attitude! So, is there an easy answer? Yes and no.
No, because once you have the virus, it lives in your nerve cells all your life. Unfortunately the frequency that Herpes outbreaks occur depends a lot on a lot of different circumstances.
Yes, there is a way to get protection against either virus. Zovirax and Valtrex are two prescription drugs that work for most people.
However, many folks find that simple home herpes remedies work just as well to treat their condition. If you can't afford the costly prescriptions, try them! Many people get relief by using them!
Always consult your physician before using natural remedies, especially for anyone with preexisting conditions or anyone currently taking prescription medications. Although many efforts are made to ensure that the advice given on this site is professionally sound, the advice is not intended to replace a mutual relationship with a medical provider.
Related Pages on This Site
Home Remedies for Herpes – Relieve Herpes Naturally!.
HSV – The Herpes Virus.
Preventative Shingles Treatment .
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