Are Symptoms for Herpes 1 Milder than Herpes 2?

Dear Dr. Tom:

I have had the herpes virus for approximately 6 years. In that time, I have had only 2 outbreaks since the primary infection. The second outbreak just occurred after 4 years of being dormant. In addition, the outbreaks are very mild. Would this be likely because I have acquired the HSV-1 rather than type 2? My husband gets cold sores and he was the one I was with around the time I had my initial outbreak. He does not have genital herpes.
Thanks a lot. Lori

Dr. Tom’s Response:

Dear Lori:

HSV-1 infections tend to be less severe than those caused by HSV-2, and they can remain dormant for long periods. HSV-1 tends to be localized in the upper body, ie., cold sores – what is referred to as herpes labialis. Neither of these tendencies are ironclad rules of behavior for members of this virus group.


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