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Small blisters both occur in oral and genital herpes. These are caused by the herpes simplex virus. There are two types of herpes simplex virus: Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2). HSV-1 is commonly attributed to cold sores in and around the mouth, lip and nose area. HSV-2, on the other hand is associated with genital herpes. Though this is not always the case It’s possible to get genital herpes from HSV-1 if someone who performed oral sex had cold sores at the time.
Though weaker immune systems are more prone to bad outbreaks and infected, the viruses are relatively commonplace. HSV-1 is incredibly common. Anywhere from 50 to 95 percent of adults are positive for HSV-1 but some never experience an outbreak even if they carry the virus. While others can suffer with having regular outbreaks which are due to triggers such as stress. You can get herpes through direct contact or sexual contact with an infected person. If you are sexually active be sure to use protection against STDs. When the sores are in their ulcer stage, where the skin breaks open, the viruses are at their most infection.
An estimated 3.7 billion people (67%) under 50 have the HSV-1 infection globally. An estimated 417 million people (11%) people aged 15 to 49, worldwide, have the HSV-2 infection. HSV-1 is less serious than HSV-2, unless the infection is ocular (in the eye) herpes which can lead to blindness.
If you put the HSV-1 virus and the HSV-2 virus under a microscope, they look nearly identical. They actually share about 50% of the same DNA and 85% of the same genetic material. Though the DNA shared percentage is relatively minute particularly if you consider humans share 98% of the same DNA with chimps, how the DNA behaves and forms into genes is what makes the viruses so similar. They share major segments of DNA that are used to develop biological functions or genetic material.
Their shared genetic traits mean HSV-1 and HSV-2 behave similarly, but evolutionarily the viruses diverged years ago–presumably when humans begin to have sex face to face. The viruses, thus, share or have similar genes which has a large impact on their appearance and behavior.
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 infect the body’s mucous membranes, normally the mouth or genitals. Once infected, they lie dormant until they become reactiviated due to physical or emotional stimuli. When reactivated, the viruses replicate and travel through nerve pathways. They then surface to the surface of the skin with a physical outbreak or viral shedding. Viral shedding is how both types can be active and transmitted to others even when there are no noticeable symptoms.
HSV-1 and HSV-2 present themselves identically so you cannot differentiate the viruses by how the lesions (blisters) look alone. The physical symptoms of HSV-1 and HSV-2 are visibly indistinguishable.
The majority of HSV-1 (oral) and HSV-2 (genital) infections are asymptomatic. Two-thirds of infected people experience no symptoms at all or symptoms that are too mild to notice and are thus unaware they are even infected.
The most critical difference between the types is when and where the virus is dormant in the body. HSV-1 usually is dormant in the nerve cells near the base of the neck. From there, outbreaks tend to occur on the face, most commonly mouth. HSV-2, however, usually is dormant in the nerve cells near the base of the spine. From there, outbreaks tend to occur in the genital–and occasionally anal–region.
Most people are unaware the viruses can infect both locations. After all, more than 30% of new genital herpes infections are the result of the HSV-1 virus. The main reason for the rise in genital HSV-1 infections being the common misconceptions that the types are fundamentally different.
HSV-2 is the most common cause of neonatal herpes, a rare, dangerous infection in newborn babies. HSV-2, unlike HSV-1 rarely spreads to different areas of the body outside its original vicinity–unlike HSV-1. Under most circumstances neither are major threats to health.
There are some clear differences when comparing the two viruses in the location of the infection, risks, and social perceptions. Due to cold sores impacting as much as 95% of the population HSV-1 is less stigmatized than HSV-2. The main area of stigma seems to be in the separation of oral herpes and genital herpes.
Can You Treat Herpes with Medical Cannabis?
THC has been proven effective in lessening outbreaks of HSV; though, THC is not legal in many countries and states. There are anecdotal claims that CBD is also able to alleviate herpes symptoms, but further clinical study is necessary. There are also conventional antiviral medications and suppressive therapy. Suppressive therapy is able to reduce frequency of genital herpes outbreaks by 70-80% in patients with frequent outbreaks.
If you would like to try medical cannabis to treat herpes alone or in unison with antiviral medication or suppressive therapy, ask your doctor or a medical professional. Cannabis has little to no side effects, so it is low risk, if you live in a state or country it is legal to attain. Please follow the laws of where you reside and follow medical recommended doses.
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