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A member asked:

Does the same virus that causes genital herpes cause cold sores?

6 doctor answers10 doctors weighed in
Dr. Kevin Windisch
Pediatrics 26 years experience
Yes: Herpes viruses come in two flavors- HSV i and HSV ii. Either virus can occur on the lips or in the genitalia.
Dr. Jeffrey Min
Specializes in Pediatrics
No: No, not typically. The virus that causes genital herpes is usually herpes simplex virus type II while the virus that causes cold sores is usually herpes simplex virus type i. I say usually because it is possible that the virus goes from the mouth to the genital area and vice versa with contact with an active lesion.
Dr. Bert Mandelbaum
Pediatrics 25 years experience
No: In general, the virus that causes cold sores is hsv-1. The virus that cause genital herpes is hsv-2. Both viruses are part of the same herpes family but are classified as different "sub-types", meaning we can distinguish between them in a lab. Either subtype can cause cold sores or genital herpes, but in general, hsv-1 causes cold sores and hsv-2 causes genital herpes.
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics 34 years experience
Yes: Oral herpes (cold sores) and genital herpes are both caused by herpes simplex virus. Oral infections are usually caused by the type 1 virus strain, and genital infections by the type 2 strain. However, these are equal opportunity viruses so the usually oral type 1 strain can cause herpes in the genital location, and the usually type 2 genital strain can cause oral herpes.
Dr. Jesse Mills
Urology 21 years experience
Yes and no: They are closely related but you can't get genital herpes from an oral sore under normal circumstances.
Dr. Robert Donato
Urology 26 years experience
Herpes Transmission: Herpes simplex virus (hsv) has two types: type i generally infects the mouth and produces "fever blisters". Type ii more commonly is genital. However, performing oral sex on someone infected with hsv i or ii can result in oral herpes. There are blood tests that can quickly determine if you've been infected with either strain. Antivirals help to reduce shedding and infection.

Similar questions

A 22-year-old member asked:

I learned cold sores are caused by herpes. Is it the same forms as genital herpes?

4 doctor answers4 doctors weighed in
Dr. Robert Kwok
Pediatrics 34 years experience
Can be type 1 or 2: Cold sores on or near the lips are due to recurrence of herpes type 1 or 2. Herpes viruses, after the initial infection, live in a person's nerves and travel down the nerves to the surface to form blisters that break open, spreading more virus. Type 1 is more common on the lips, and type 2 more common on the genitals. With people engaging in oral sex, either type can be in one or both locations.
Last updated Oct 3, 2016


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