The herpes simplex viruses, also known as oral herpes (HSV-1) and genital herpes (HSV-2), are a virus from the herpesviridae family of viruses. 90% of the world population is infected with some form of herpes virus, with the chickenpox virus and oral herpes being some of the more common forms of the virus. The cold sores associated with oral herpes can actually be caused by HSV-1 and HSV-2. While it is much more common to catch oral herpes by kissing or sharing food or utensils with someone who has HSV-1, it is also possible to get facial cold sores from genital herpes transmission. Just because HSV-2 is known as “genital herpes” does not mean that it only creates sores on the genitals; HSV-2 can be transferred to the area around the mouth during oral sex, and HSV-1 can be transferred to the genital region in the same way. Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be responsible for both oral and genital herpes; only protected sex can mitigate the ability to spread this virus.
A weakened immune system makes you susceptible to common colds and their resulting fevers. HSV-1 and HSV-2 often outbreak whenever the immune system is weakened as well, resulting in lesions commonly known as “cold” sores or “fever” blisters. After the initial infection and outbreak of cold sores, outbreaks can reoccur within as little as 5-10 days. There is no cure for any form of herpes, but treatments are available (such as prescribed acyclovir-based products, or non-prescribed natural products such as Fenvir) which can help reduce the time it takes for an outbreak to heal, while also helping to prevent cold sores from occurring in the first place. For more information on how to stop these breakouts before they even occur, take a look at Fenvir HSV antiviral.
The two herpes simplex viruses, oral (HSV-1) and genital (HSV-2) herpes, are some of the most commonly spread sexually transmitted diseases in America. Understanding these viruses and their means of transmission is important for preventing and dealing with them. Both forms of the herpes simplex virus can infect the genital or oral area. You can have oral herpes around the mouth, lips, or genitals; you can have genital herpes around the mouth, lips, or genitals; and you can have both forms of herpes in these locations at the same time, as well. In other words, if you already have one form of herpes on your face or genital region, you should not assume that a partner who also has this virus has the same virus as you, or that it is “safe” to have unprotected sex with another person who appears to have the same virus as you. Though HSV-1 and HSV-2 have very similar symptoms (sores around mouth or genital regions), they also have some very different qualities as well.
HSV-1 can be spread through indirect contact (sharing utensils or towels with someone who is having an outbreak), and is more contagious than HSV-2. In some ways, though HSV-2 can be spread more easily. Though genital herpes cannot be caught from a toilet seat, a towel, or a swimming pool, many carriers of HSV-2 are “asymptomatic,” meaning that they do not have HSV-2 symptoms (sores). This means they can have the virus without even knowing it, and can spread the virus during sex unintentionally. Protective sex using condoms is always recommended for sexual partners who have not been blood tested for HSV-2. HSV-2 can only be spread by skin-to-skin contact – usually during vaginal or anal sex (though oral sex can spread HSV-2 to areas around the mouth). For this reason, people with HSV-2 can significantly reduce their chance of spreading the virus by simply abstaining from sex while sores are active. It is important to note that HSV-2 does not always appear directly on the genitals; sores on the thighs or buttocks can come into direct skin-to-skin contact during sex and transmit the virus to the buttocks/thighs of the uninfected person.
HSV-1 is a very common virus. Studies have estimated that by adolescence, as many as 62% of U.S. population has oral herpes; 85% of the population is infected by the time they are in their 60s. Some scientists have estimated that as many as 90% of the adult U.S. population may have oral herpes; many often do not know about the virus they are carrying. Many people are infected with this virus as children, since it only takes a kiss from and adult with active sores to transfer the virus. HSV-1 is the more contagious of the two herpes simplex viruses. If a person with HSV-1 touches a sore and does not immediately wash their hands, the viral microbes from the sores can be applied to anything the HSV-1 infected person touches. People without the virus can unwittingly touch these objects and touch their own face afterwards, resulting in infection. Kissing and sharing utensils, food, towels, and touching anything after touching sores can spread the virus to uninfected individuals.
Cold sores from oral herpes are not something to be too embarrassed about. While cold sores can be severe, in most cases these sores are no more embarrassing than an ordinary pimple. When kept clean and dry, sores can heal without scarring. Certain treatments can also be used to help reduce the length of time it takes cold sores to heal, while also reducing the chance for the cold sores to occur in the first place.
Though the sores from HSV-1 generally occur around the lips and mouth, some people have outbreaks inside of the nostrils and over the cheeks or chin. Herpes infections can even rarely spread to the cuticles in fingers, as well as the eyes. For this reason, it is important to be very hygienic when you have an active cold sore. Canker sores are often confused with cold sores; canker sores are small ulcers only form on the soft tissue inside of the mouth, while cold sores usually form with fluid inside of them and share a closer appearance to a pimple than a canker sore. Cold sores also rarely form within the mouth.