What is herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 and its features

Some people, faced with a cold rash on the lips, face, hands or genitals, do not suspect that this is a manifestation of the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Today we will talk about the features and types of the most common and often caused by external symptoms of herpesvirus. In most cases, it is easily treatable, but in certain situations it can cause serious complications. We will analyze herpes simplex types 1 and 2 from different angles, touch on the methods of diagnosis and treatment, and also consider the symptoms and methods of diagnosis.


Herpes simplex virus (HSV – herpes simplex virus) – causes a viral infection in various skin areas and is distinguished by a special creep of herpetic vesicles (vesicles). It is one of the DNA viruses of the order Herpesvirales. Belongs to the family “Herpesviridae – herpesviruses”, subfamily “Alphaherpesvirinae – alphaherpesviruses”.

Herpes simplex virus is a genus of the subfamily of alphaherpesviruses. It is neurotropic and neuroinvasive, which means the migration of viral cells into the nervous system. This feature allows it to strengthen in the host’s body for the rest of its life after the initial infection.

The genus herpes simplex virus has two types:

herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1, HSV-1), also called HHV-1;

herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2, HSV-2), also called HHV-2.

Although herpes simplex viruses type 1 and type 2 are separate, they have a lot in common. For example, in the treatment of these types of herpes, the same drugs and methods are used, they give identical symptoms and behave in the same way in the host’s body.

There is a misconception that herpes types 1 and 2 differ in different localization. This is their feature, but not a pattern. They differ more in the frequency of relapses, but localization also makes itself felt in the manifestations of these species.


The herpes simplex virus type 1 most often enters the child even in infancy and first manifests itself in the form of herpes stomatitis. Then, with relapses, it begins to affect the lips, causing herpes on the lips. This is due to the peculiarity of the lip tissue, it is very thin and the infection tends to it. Cold sores are called labial herpes.

Frequent affected areas

Herpes type 1 affects the nerve zones. Recurring, it manifests itself in those places of the nervous system where it was located. He cannot change the location on his own within the nerve regions. But when new areas of the body are infected with herpes simplex virus type 1, the following manifestations can be obtained:

herpes on the face – rashes in different areas, including the cheeks, ears, nose;

ophthalmic herpes is herpes in the eyes, both in the eyelids and on the mucous membrane of the eyes;

herpetic felon – a herpetic rash on the fingers, as well as herpes on the hands, manifests itself on the palms, the back of the hand, wrists;

herpetic (herpes) stomatitis – one of the manifestations of herpes in the mouth, localized on the tongue, gums, inner side of the cheeks, palate;

on the genitals – the herpes manifestation of herpes of the first type occurs after the contact of viral particles of herpes simplex type 1 with the genitals or the area near the genitals.

These are the most common HSV-1 affected areas. In addition to them, it affects other parts of the body and their skin, including the back, legs, head, elbows, shoulders, buttocks, etc.

Coverage and statistics

The most common place for HSV of the first type in the world is the African continent. According to statistics for 2017, the percentage of infected with herpes simplex virus type 1 was 87% in Africa and 67% worldwide. The numbers are approximate, since many people have never donated blood at all for the presence of virus DNA in the body. According to authoritative medical scientists, practically all people of a civilized society are carriers of HSV of the first type.


Herpes of the second type can also appear on any part of the skin, but due to the fact that it is a genital infection, most often the second type of this kind causes genital herpes. Herpes type 2 is a sexually transmitted disease, so the primary infection usually occurs through sexual intercourse.

If the viral particles are spread to other parts of the body, the infection will manifest itself in the same way as with the first type. A feature of HSV type 2 is the recurrence rate. Many doctors are of the opinion that the division of these viruses is conditional, and even the methods of transmission. Thus, they recognize that by dividing herpes simplex, one can trace the patterns that the herpes virus type 2 recurs from once a month.

Most often, in those infected, the virus is dormant and does not show visible symptoms. Most of the infected are the female population, which proves the transmission of the virus from men to women is more likely than vice versa.

It is believed that the recurrence of HSV type 2 is the most dangerous during pregnancy than the first type of virus of this kind. If the primary infection with genital herpes occurs during pregnancy, it can affect the development of the fetus.


Herpes simplex of the first type is transmitted in a household way. Primarily through saliva and infected biomaterials containing virus cells. Very often, transmission occurs even in infancy, when the mother kisses the baby, having a relapse of labial herpes on the lips. Viral particles can be transmitted through direct contact and through household items if herpesvirus type 1 cells get on public items. But this is an extremely rare practice.

As mentioned above, herpesvirus type 2 is a sexually transmitted disease and is transmitted through sexual intercourse. Some doctors claim that the herpes virus strain can be transmitted in an asymptomatic stage, but this is only a theory. HSV type 2 can penetrate not only through the mucous membranes, but also through the skin. There is often an overlap of types of herpes simplex with oral sex. In this case, it is possible to transfer the “genital form” of herpes infection to the mucous membrane of the mouth, and vice versa, the first type of herpesvirus to the genitals.


Symptoms of HSV type 1

Symptoms of HSV type 1 appear almost the same in all areas of the lesion and are similar to labial herpes infection. It looks something like this:

Initially, itching or burning begins in the area of ​​manifestation.

Then a small rash of small vesicles occurs.

The rash then coalesces to form a large blister.

Itching is observed at the site of the bladder, sometimes a slight pain.

The bubble then dries up, crusting over.

If HSV affects the skin, then the picture is always similar to the manifestation of a cold on the lips. With the defeat of the mucous membranes, everything looks about the same, but the bubbles burst more often, and are also accompanied by a constant burning sensation, especially in the vaginal region.

Herpesvirus of the first type sometimes gives external symptoms in the form of headache and fever, but this is rare.

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