Are Cold Sores Really Herpes?

There has always been confusion regarding cold sores that appear on the mouth and lips, and genital herpes. Cold sores are known as HSV-1, and genital herpes are known as HSV-2.   Both types are a form of herpes, so technically, yes, they are the same to an extent.  HSV-1, or cold sores, can be spread to the genitals during oral sex, and they can also be spread through kissing, sharing toothbrushes, utensils, and drinking from the same glass of an infected person during an outbreak.   HSV-2 can also be transmitted to the mouth during oral sex, which is what makes the two different viruses a bit confusing, as they technically can be one in the same as far as symptoms and outbreaks.

Cold sores are very common, and various studies show that at least 80 % of Americans have most likely been exposed to HSV-1 at some point in time.  Anyone that has been exposed to HSV-1 can experience outbreaks during certain times, especially during illness, menstruation, or times of heavy stress.  HSV-2 is spread during sexual contact, and outbreaks tend to occur periodically, and can also be triggered by stress, illness, and menstruation.  The two viruses share the same DNA by 50 %, and the main difference of the two is where the virus multiplies in the body.

Both cold sores and genital herpes are easily transmissible, and a common misunderstanding is that cold sores are not as contagious as genital herpes.  When either of these viruses are active, they are both highly contagious, so it is always a good idea to take the proper safety measures to avoid spreading the virus to others.

It’s also an interesting fact that society views each form of herpes in a different way.  They consider cold sores a “normal” infection that many people have, and they label genital herpes as “bad”, when the reality is that they are so similar in the way that they can be spread, that there truly is not much of a difference.  Someone can easily transmit a cold sore from their mouth to their partner’s genitals, and this would cause the same symptoms as genital herpes.

The bottom line is, both HSV-1 and HSV -2 are very common. The spread of the virus can be avoided by taking various precautions and minimizing sexual activity during an outbreak. There are also many natural medications for both cold sores as well as genital herpes that will lower the chance of outbreaks, which can also aid in lowering the chance of infecting another individual.  By looking at the virus like it’s one in the same, the stigma tends to disappear, and people simply become aware of the facts of the disease.  Currently, there is no known cure for either form of herpes, but with today’s medical technology, both HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be easily controlled.  Symptoms can be minimized with proper nutrition and medications, and the spread of both forms of herpes can be avoided by taking simple steps.  Herpes is slowly losing its stigma, and many people are losing their fear of the virus by educating themselves.

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