Exploring the Different Types of Genital Herpes: HSV-1 and HSV-2

Nishi Kashyap
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Kaushal

Review medical content on WOW Rx Pharmacy, so that accurate drug use information is easily accessible to everybody.
Dr. Akansha is a licensed Clinical Pharmacologist. She possesses remarkable knowledge in Pharmacovigilance, prescription analysis, drug information, and drug safety services. Additionally, she is a keen learner and an educator.

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types of genital herpes

Genital Herpes is an STI caused by the HSV (Herpes Simplex Virus). 

There are mainly two types of Herpes viruses that can affect the genital area: HSV-1 and HSV-2. 

Both viruses continue to impact individuals globally and manifest a range of uncomfortable symptoms.

Understanding the differences between these two types of viruses is crucial for proper diagnosis and management.

In this article, we will discover types of Genital Herpes in detail with their treatment options and prevention.


Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1) is majorly associated with oral Herpes.

It can lead to cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth. 

However, in recent years, the prevalence of Genital Herpes caused by HSV-1 has been on the rise. 

This shift is attributed to an increase in oral-genital sexual practices.

When HSV-1 infects the genital area, it tends to cause milder symptoms than HSV-2. 


HSV-2 is the main culprit behind most cases of Genital Herpes. 

This strain is highly contagious and spreads through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. 

HSV-2 typically leads to more severe and recurrent Genital Herpes symptoms compared to HSV-1.

This type of virus is commonly present in the fluid within blisters and ulcers that occur during an active outbreak. 

It can also be found in the moist lining of the mouth, rectum, and vagina.

Symptoms of Genital Herpes

HeadacheSource: 123ducu_from_Getty_Images
A woman suffering from headache

The manifestation of Genital Herpes symptoms can vary from person to person.

Some individuals may even experience asymptomatic infections.

It means individuals may carry the virus without experiencing noticeable symptoms. 

Asymptomatic carriers can unknowingly transmit the virus to sexual partners.

This highlights the importance of regular STI testing, especially for those with multiple sexual partners.

For those who do exhibit symptoms, the following are common characteristics associated with Genital Herpes outbreaks:

  • Painful sores or fluid-filled blisters in the genital or anal area
  • Intense itching and irritation in the affected regions
  • Flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes
  • Pain or discomfort during urination

Although outbreaks may be less frequent over time, the virus remains in the body and can be reactivated. This may lead to recurrent episodes.

Individuals must be cautious, especially during pregnancy. In pregnant women, both first-time and repeat infections of Herpes can lead to the transmission of the virus to the baby in the womb. This causes a condition called congenital HSV infection.


Diagnosing Genital Herpes involves clinical evaluation, physical examination, and laboratory testing. 

Tests may include Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), sample testing, or blood tests to detect antibodies against the virus.

PCR is a molecular technique and a highly sensitive method to detect the Herpes virus. It helps in confirming the diagnosis by identifying the viral DNA or RNA.


Antiviral medications like Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, and Famciclovir can help manage symptoms of Genital Herpes.

It reduces the frequency of outbreaks and lowers the risk of transmission. 

Over-the-counter (OTC) medicines like Ibuprofen may be recommended to alleviate pain and discomfort linked to Genital Herpes

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In some cases, topical antiviral creams may also be prescribed to relieve itching and discomfort.

Always seek professional guidance before using any cream or pain relievers. 


Woman holding condomSource: Signature_images
Use condom

Always use protection or barrier methods such as condoms or dental dams correctly during intimate activities.

This can prevent Herpes transmission.

Avoiding sexual activity during active outbreaks and using caution when symptoms are present.

For recurrent symptoms or frequent viral shedding, antiviral suppressive therapy may be advised by doctors.

It helps alleviate the frequency and severity of outbreaks. 

Always have honest communication with couples about sexual health and medical history.

Knowing one’s STI status allows for informed decision-making and preventive actions.


Genital Herpes is caused mainly by two types of HSV: HSV-1 and HSV-2. 

HSV-1, traditionally associated with oral Herpes, has seen a rise in genital infections.

On the other hand, HSV-2 remains the predominant cause of Genital Herpes.

The symptoms of Genital Herpes include painful sores or blisters, itching, flu-like symptoms, and discomfort during urination. 

Diagnosing Genital Herpes involves clinical evaluation and various tests, such as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

Treatment options include antiviral medications like Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, and Famciclovir.

Prevention is key, involving the use of protection methods such as condoms and avoiding sexual activity during active outbreaks.

Informed decision-making, regular STI testing, and responsible sexual practices contribute to effective prevention strategies.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the types of Genital Herpes?

Genital Herpes comprises two main types: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1, traditionally associated with oral Herpes, is increasingly causing genital infections. HSV-2 remains the major cause of Genital Herpes, characterized by painful sores. 

What are the symptoms of Genital Herpes?

Genital Herpes symptoms involve painful sores or blisters in the genital or anal area and itching. It may also cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, and discomfort during urination. Outbreaks may vary in severity. Some individuals may experience asymptomatic infections.

How to treat Genital Herpes?

Genital Herpes is managed with antiviral medications like Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, and Famciclovir. These drugs help alleviate symptoms, reduce the frequency of active outbreaks, and lower the risk of transmission. Over-the-counter medicines like Ibuprofen may ease pain. 

How to prevent Genital Herpes?

Preventing Genital Herpes involves using barrier methods like condoms or dental dams during intimate activities. Avoiding sexual activity during active outbreaks is crucial. Antiviral suppressive therapy may be recommended for recurrent symptoms. 

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