The two categories of herpes are herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2).
HSV-1 is oral herpes. Its main characteristics are fever blisters, also known as cold sores, that form around the mouth and lips and less often on the nose, cheeks, and hands. People can share HSV-1 through kissing and the mutual use of food utensils and toothbrushes.
HSV-2 is genital herpes. A sexually-transmitted disease, HSV-2 is associated with blisters below the waistline. Symptoms of the virus generally progress back-and-forth through phases of dormancy and attacks called outbreaks.
With no real cure, herpes treatments focus on the suppression of symptoms. Drugs are available to suppress herpes outbreaks. In some patients, certain medications lead to immunosuppression and the further worsening of physical symptoms.
Home treatments for herpes symptoms include soaking areas with sores in a warm bath. A dermatologist can take a swab from herpes simplex sores and send for lab work to diagnose the condition. Once there is confirmation that a patient has herpes, the dermatologist can recommend topical treatments to alleviate the discomfort caused by surface-level outbreaks. Such remedies include antiviral creams and ointments that relieve sensations of burning and itching. Dermatological therapies also can shorten the duration of outbreaks and enable patients to live more normal lives.