Chances are, most people get their information about STDs from sex ed classes taken long ago, or from quick Google searches when STD symptoms crop up.
As a result, there’s a very simple view of the herpes simplex viruses — and many people accidentally lump the two herpes viruses together when they are distinct infections.
Today, we’re explaining what differentiates herpes I and II.
Herpes I & II: What’s the Difference?
The two herpes viruses are herpes type 1, also known as HSV-1 or oral herpes, and herpes type 2, HSV-2 or genital herpes. As you can guess from their colloquial names, HSV-1 commonly causes sores near the lips and mouth, while most genital herpes and herpes outbreaks below the waist are caused by HSV-2.
Causes of Herpes Infections
HSV-1 is found in skin sores and oral secretions, so it’s often transmitted by kissing. Transfer can also occur when sharing objects like spoons or toothbrushes that come into contact with oral fluids.
It’s key to note that both herpes I and II can be spread even when sores are not visibly present or if outbreaks have not occurred in some time, as the viruses can stay dormant in your system. Outbreaks may occur in dormant viruses due to other illnesses, stress, fatigue, menstruation, physical trauma to the infected area (including sex), and immunosuppression (due to AIDS or certain medications, like steroids or chemotherapy).
Herpes Simplex Symptoms
Both forms of herpes are characterized by the appearance of blisters around infected areas. As stated above, for HSV-1 these blisters generally appear around the mouth, while in HSV-2 they appear around the genitals or rectum.
Herpes symptoms can range from nonexistent to mild to extremely painful. The first outbreak of herpes I is usually very painful and can include aches around the genitals, a burning pain, and trouble with urination. Unusual penile and vaginal discharge can also indicate a herpes infection. Herpes II infections can cause a tingling or burning sensation right before the outbreak, and once present, the blisters can cause quite a bit of pain.
There is not currently a cure for herpes I or II, meaning upon infection, the virus stays in the body. Though you may experience periods of dormancy with herpes, it will remain in the nerve cells awaiting a trigger that activates it.
There are treatments for herpes I and II that may help alleviate the symptoms, however. Your doctor can prescribe medication to decrease pain, healing time, and number of outbreaks. Taking a warm bath can relieve the pain of HSV-2 sores.
Help With Herpes I and II at ARCpoint Labs
Concerned you may have herpes I or II? Find out at your nearest ARCpoint Labs so that you can get the treatment you need and inform sexual partners. We offer quick, accurate, and confidential STD testing, including screening for both herpes I and II.
To learn more about herpes testing at ARCpoint Labs, find your closest location today!