The obvious distinction between oral herpes (cold sores) and genital herpes is where on the body their respective symptoms occur. Oral herpes refer to the herpes virus that manifests as fever blisters or cold sores on or around the lips. This is called the Herpes Simplex Virus I.
Genital herpes refers to the herpes virus that manifests as blisters or sores in or around the vagina or penis, the genital areas. This is known as herpes simplex virus II.
Until recently, scientists believed that two different types of the herpes simplex virus caused oral and genital herpes. Research now shows that HSV1, which was thought to cause only oral herpes, can also show up in the genital area.
The symptoms of oral herpes are very similar to genital herpes. Oral herpes will start as a tingly area on or around the lips. Genital herpes starts as a tingling or burning sensation on or around the genitals. In both cases, the sensitive area develops a reddish bump, which eventually grows into a blister-like sore. In the case of oral herpes, there may be only one or two sores, close together. Cases of genital herpes (particularly genital herpes caused by the HSV2 virus) can result in many more blisters, which can be spread out in a much wider area.
- Both start as itchy/tingling/burning patches, resulting in blisters that eventually scab over and heal.
- In both cases, those infected can have frequent outbreaks or have no physical symptoms whatsoever.
- Both oral and genital herpes are contagious, particularly when there are sores present.
- Oral herpes can be spread via oral sex to the genital area of the sexual partner and become genital herpes. On the other hand, there is little evidence of genital herpes spreading as oral herpes.
- Genital herpes, on average, shows symptoms of a much higher count of blisters than oral herpes.
- Genital herpes can be caused by both the HSV1 and HSV2 virus, the latter having more severe symptoms.
Treating Genital Herpes
Because the skin is more sensitive in the genital area, some non-prescription products may burn on application or irritate the skin. Natural products, such as Lip Clear Lysine+, will not burn and can provide relief, however, there is no OTC product approved for such usage. There are prescription drugs such as Valtrex, which are used to prevent or reduce the duration of a genital herpes outbreak. The amino acid L-lysine can also helps in this way.
If you think you may have genital herpes, you can get a definitive test at your doctor’s office or a many free clinics.