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The first is how well the person's immune system is able to control the infection.
Differences in immune response may be the main reason that some people are bothered by frequent cold sores or genital herpes outbreaks while others are not.
From there, it tends to recur on the lower lip or face.
HSV-2 usually sets up residence in the sacral ganglion at the base of the spine. Even this difference is not absolute either type can reside in either or both parts of the body and infect oral and/or genital areas.
Both types infect the body's mucosal surfaces, usually the mouth or genitals, and then establish latency in the nervous system.
For both types, at least two-thirds of infected people have no symptoms, or symptoms too mild to notice.
However, in some cases type 1 can recur spontaneously in the eye, causing ocular herpes, a potentially serious infection which can lead to blindness.
That's one reason medical professionals tend to dismiss HSV -2 despite the emotional trauma a diagnosis can cause for a patient.
Following the unspoken assumptions of our society, many people still believe there is a "good" herpes virus-HSV- 1, the usual cause of cold sores-and a "bad" herpes virus-HSV-2, the usual cause of genital herpes.
In this feature, we take a look at HSV- 1 and 2 to see how alike and different the two viral types really are.
HSV-1 is also the usual cause of herpes whitlow, an infection on the finger, and "wrestler's herpes," (herpes gladiatorum) a herpes infection on the chest or face.
The range and potential severity of HSV-1 infections lead some experts to view the virus as more risky than usually perceived.
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What's behind the very different images the two types carry? In an interview, counselors at the National Herpes Hotline suggest ways to help replace judgmental social assumptions with a healthy attitude.