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Difference between Oral and Genital Herpes

Difference between Oral and Genital Herpes

Herpes is a highly contagious infection caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of herpes virus, HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is typically associated with oral herpes, while HSV-2 is typically associated with genital herpes. However, both viruses can infect either area. While there is no cure for herpes, it can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. If you are living with herpes, it is important to understand the differences between oral and genital herpes.

What is Oral Herpes?

Oral Herpes is a virus that can cause cold sores or fever blisters around the mouth. It is caused by the Herpes simplex virus (HSV). Oral Herpes is very contagious and can be spread by kissing or sharing cups, utensils, or other personal items with someone who has the virus. Oral Herpes can also be spread from someone with HSV-1 to another person through sexual contact. The symptoms of Oral Herpes include tingling, itching, or burning around the mouth; redness; small blisters or ulcers on the lips, gums, tongue, or inside the cheeks; swollen lymph nodes; and fever.

Oral Herpes is most commonly diagnosed based on the symptoms. However, a health care provider may also order blood tests or take a swab of lesions to confirm the diagnosis. There is no cure for Oral Herpes, but antiviral medications can help to lessen the severity and duration of outbreaks. People with Oral Herpes should avoid kissing or sharing personal items with others to prevent spreading the virus.

What is Genital Herpes?

  • Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of HSV: HSV-1 and HSV-2. Both types can cause sores in or around the genitals or rectum, but HSV-2 is usually responsible for genital herpes. Genital herpes is a lifelong infection, with no cure currently available. However, there are treatments that can help to manage symptoms and reduce the risk of transmitting the infection to others.
  • Genital herpes is a common STI, with an estimated 1 in 8 adults in the United States infected with HSV-2. The majority of people with genital herpes are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms that go unrecognized. When symptoms do occur, they can include itching, tingling, or burning in the affected area; small blisters or ulcers; and pain during urination.
  • Genital herpes is most commonly spread through sexual contact, including vaginal, anal, and oral sex. It can also be spread through skin-to-skin contact, even if there are no visible sores. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk of contracting genital herpes.

Difference between Oral and Genital Herpes

Oral and genital herpes are two sexually transmitted infections caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Both types of HSV can cause sores and blisters in the genital and/or oral area, but they are typically mild and cause a little more discomfort. In some cases, however, they can lead to more serious health problems. Oral herpes is typically spread through contact with saliva, while genital herpes is spread through sexual contact.

There are two types of HSV: HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 is more commonly associated with oral herpes, while HSV-2 is more often linked to genital herpes. However, both viruses can cause either type of infection. Treatment for both types of herpes usually involves antiviral medication. In some cases, however, the virus can remain dormant in the body for long periods of time without causing any symptoms.


While oral and genital herpes are caused by the same virus, they present with different symptoms and require different treatment. It’s important to be able to distinguish between the two types of herpes, especially since oral herpes is much more common than genital herpes. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with herpes, know that you are not alone.

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