What’s the Difference between Gsv1 and Hsv2 Virus?

Almost 70% of people in the world under 50 years of age have the herpes simplex virus type 1, the main cause of oral herpes, according to estimates by the World Health Organization (WHO). The herpes simplex virus type 2, from the same family and the main cause of genital herpes, affects approximately 8% of the population between 15 and 49 years of age.

The main difference between these two types of herpes is the place of manifestation in the body. That is, in both cases, pain, red spots on the skin, and small blisters that break and heal with a scab (crust) may occur. In oral herpes, however, these manifestations are concentrated in the region of the mouth and lips, while in genital herpes the focus is on the genitals of women and men.

What Is Herpes Simplex Virus?

Herpes is a viral infection caused by two types of viruses. One of them, simple herpes, is quite common among the population, according to the Brazilian Society of Dermatology (SBD), and is divided into two subtypes – types 1 and 2. The other is varicella zoster, the same microorganism that causes chickenpox. Also known as shingles, it causes herpes zoster.

Herpes simplex and shingles are caused by different viruses:

“Both types of herpes are characterized by the appearance of vesicles and pain in the affected area. In shingles, the vesicles are unilateral and follow the path of the affected nerve.

In the case of herpes simplex, the vesicles are more frequently located on the lips, inside the mouth, nose, eyes, and genital region”, says dermatologist Juliana Fonte.

Herpes simplex is mainly transmitted through direct contact with the lesions, whether they are located on the face, in the case of type 1, or on the genitals, in type 2. “Herpes zoster is transmitted either through direct contact with the lesions or by respiratory droplets in the air.

It remains latent and can manifest itself in situations of low immunity”, explains the doctor. The chickenpox vaccine, when taken in childhood, can reduce the chances of having the disease, according to the Brazilian Society of Dermatology.

How to prevent myself from the Herpes virus?

Although herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) most often causes oral herpes, and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) causes genital herpes, the opposite can also happen in some cases. This is mainly due to the practice of oral sex.

The viruses that cause herpes are highly transmissible and the disease can occur at any age. In addition to direct contact with the skin or mucosa of an infected person, contagion can occur through other types of indirect contact with contaminated people or objects, although this means of transmission is rare.

Infectologist at Hospital Sírio-Libanês, Dr. Vivian Iida Avelino da Silva explains that the chances of transmission of the herpes virus are much greater when there are visible lesions in the region, but in some cases, it even occurs without the presence of signs of the disease. Therefore, although they do not bring 100% security, the following strategies can help in prevention:

  • Use a condom with all sexual intercourse.
  • Refrain from sex (oral, vaginal, and anal) when there are signs of the disease.
  • Do not kiss the mouth of anyone who has signs of the disease.

Although the virus has a very short survival time when in contact with air at room temperature, it is advisable to avoid sharing personal or intimate belongings with people who have herpes lesions; or objects that may be contaminated, such as glasses, cutlery, toothbrush, lipsticks, lip balms, and towels.

Pregnant women deserve special attention, as the herpes virus can be transmitted to the baby during childbirth, which can cause neurological problems in the child, such as intellectual disability and seizures.

In pregnant women with signs of genital herpes close to the period of delivery, the doctor may recommend the use of antiviral drugs and, in some cases, cesarean delivery to prevent the infection of the baby.

How do oral and genital herpes manifest?

The duration of symptoms caused by oral and genital herpes is five to ten days, on average, but not everyone who has the virus shows signs of the disease. “Certain people have the disease only once in their lives, some never present and others may have repeated episodes”, comments dr. Vivian.

Oral and genital herpes cannot be cured. The reactivation of its symptoms can then occur throughout life without an apparent cause, but also due to intense exposure to the sun, physical or mental fatigue, stress, fever or other infections that lower the body’s resistance.

In the case of genital herpes, as there is a break in the integrity of the skin of the infected person, it is believed that in the face of unprotected sexual intercourse, these people have a risk about three times greater of contracting other infections, such as HIV, when compared to to people who do not have herpes lesions.

How to treat herpes?

Treatment is done through medications that act against the multiplication of the virus. Medical care can be against the active lesion, which usually lasts a few days, or preventive care, which is used for a longer period of time (a few months) to prevent the appearance of recurrent sores.

Preventive treatment for herpes is usually used when the discomfort caused by the disease becomes constant. That is, when the patient has more than two or three episodes per year and the injuries cause a lot of pain, discomfort to urinate and difficulty or embarrassment to have sexual intercourse.

The diagnosis of herpes is clinically based on the symptoms and lesions presented by the patient. There is a specific blood test that helps to identify whether the person has already had contact with the herpes virus, but alone it is not enough to define the presence of the disease. In rare cases, a biopsy may also be performed to better understand the lesion.

Although herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) most often causes oral herpes, and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) causes genital herpes, the opposite can also happen in some cases. This is mainly due to the practice of oral sex.

The viruses that cause herpes are highly transmissible and the disease can occur at any age. In addition to direct contact with the skin or mucosa of an infected person, contagion can occur through other types of indirect contact with contaminated people or objects, although this means of transmission is rare.

Infectologist at Hospital Sírio-Libanês, Dr. Vivian Iida Avelino da Silva explains that the chances of transmission of the herpes virus are much greater when there are visible lesions in the region, but in some cases, it even occurs without the presence of signs of the disease. Therefore, although they do not bring 100% security, the following strategies can help in prevention:

  • Use a condom with all sexual intercourse.
  • Refrain from sex (oral, vaginal, and anal) when there are signs of the disease.
  • Do not kiss the mouth of anyone who has signs of the disease.

Although the virus has a very short survival time when in contact with air at room temperature, it is advisable to avoid sharing personal or intimate belongings with people who have herpes lesions; or objects that may be contaminated, such as glasses, cutlery, toothbrush, lipsticks, lip balms, and towels.

Pregnant women deserve special attention, as the herpes virus can be transmitted to the baby during childbirth, which can cause neurological problems in the child, such as intellectual disability and seizures.

In pregnant women with signs of genital herpes close to the period of delivery, the doctor may recommend the use of antiviral drugs and, in some cases, cesarean delivery to prevent the infection of the baby.

How do oral and genital herpes manifest?

The duration of symptoms caused by oral and genital herpes is five to ten days, on average, but not everyone who has the virus shows signs of the disease. “Certain people have the disease only once in their lives, some never present and others may have repeated episodes”, comments dr. Vivian.

Oral and genital herpes cannot be cured. The reactivation of its symptoms can then occur throughout life without an apparent cause, but also due to intense exposure to the sun, physical or mental fatigue, stress, fever, or other infections that lower the body’s resistance.

In the case of genital herpes, as there is a break in the integrity of the skin of the infected person, it is believed that in the face of unprotected sexual intercourse, these people have a risk about three times greater of contracting other infections, such as HIV, when compared to people who do not have herpes lesions.

How to treat herpes?

Treatment is done through medications that act against the multiplication of the virus. Medical care can be against the active lesion, which usually lasts a few days, or preventive care, which is used for a longer period of time (a few months) to prevent the appearance of recurrent sores.

Preventive treatment for herpes is usually used when the discomfort caused by the disease becomes constant. That is, when the patient has more than two or three episodes per year and the injuries cause a lot of pain, discomfort to urinate and difficulty or embarrassment to have sexual intercourse.

The diagnosis of herpes is clinically based on the symptoms and lesions presented by the patient. There is a specific blood test that helps to identify whether the person has already had contact with the herpes virus, but alone it is not enough to define the presence of the disease. In rare cases, a biopsy may also be performed to better understand the lesion.

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