Differences between HPV and Herpes

Differences between HPV and Herpes

HPV and herpes are the two most common STDs in the United States. They are caused by viruses and can spread through sexual contact. Sexually active people may contract herpes or HPV at some point in their lives. HPV and herpes can be similar in many ways. That’s why a lot of people are confusing them. However, these two conditions can still have some differences.

What is HPV?


HPV infection is caused by the Human papillomavirus. This virus has multiple types and 40 of them can infect the genital areas. HPV types are categorized into low-risk and high-risk types. Low-risk HPVs such as types 6 and 11 can cause genital warts in men and women. High-risk HPVs such as types 16 and 18 can cause cervical cancers in women.

HPV is currently affecting 79 million Americans. It’s highly contagious and you can get it from having sex with someone who has the virus. 


You might have HPV if you notice the following symptoms:

  • One or multiple tiny bumps in or around the genital area. The bumps can be large, small, flat, or raised and can look like a cauliflower. They can also be white, red, pink or flesh-colored.
  • Abnormal bumps or warts in and around the mouth
  • HPV-related cancers (no signs and symptoms)

Warts can also appear on the hands, fingers, and elbows (called common warts). When warts grow on the face, or neck, people call them “flat warts”. And warts that develop on the feet are known as plantar warts.

HPV symptoms



There is no HPV test for men. Women, however, can find out they have HPV by getting a Pap smear, or a DNA test. If you have a visible lesion or bump, acetic acid (vinegar) can help determine if it’s a HPV wart.


The HPV vaccine can protect you from getting HPV. It’s recommended for all males and females before their sexual activity.

If you have warts, medications can help remove them fast. Vidarox is one of the most common genital wart creams in the market right now. Applying this 2 to 3 times daily for a few weeks can help fight the virus and clear warts. You can also get warts removed surgically by:

  • Excision
  • Cryotherapy
  • Electrocautery
  • LEEP (loop electrosurgical excision procedure)
  • Laser surgery

If you’re diagnosed with high-risk HPV, follow your doctor’s treatment plan. Get regular Pap tests. It can take 5-20 years for HPV to progress into cancer. This depends on the ability of the immune system to fight the virus.

Learn more: Is It Possible for Dating Someone with HPV?

What is Herpes?


Herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are multiple types of HSV, but the two most common types are:

  • HSV-1 (type 1)
  • HSV-2 (type 2)

HSV-1 can be responsible for oral herpes (cold sores). It usually affect the lips, mouth, nose or face. HSV-2, on the other hand, can infect the genital area, causing genital herpes.

Herpes is so common. In the US, it’s now affecting 1 in 2 people ages 14-49 (oral herpes) and 1 in 8 people ages 14-49 (genital herpes). Both types of herpes are very contagious. You can catch the virus by contact with bodily fluids or by oral, vaginal and anal sex. 


Herpes usually causes sores or blisters on or near the mouth or genitals. The sores or blisters can be itchy or painful but they can go away on their own. Often, they come with some other symptoms, including:

  • Pain, itching, tingling, burning
  • Painful urination
  • Vaginal or penile discharge

Herpes has 2 main stages: initial herpes or recurrent herpes. The first stage is when you’re first infected with herpes. At this time, you may have flu-like symptoms such as fever, joint pain, headache and swollen lymph nodes. The symptoms can resolve in a few weeks and the sores will be gone. The second stage is known as a recurrent herpes. You may have a new outbreak, but symptoms can be less severe and can heal faster than before.

Herpes symptoms


If you have a sore or lesion, a viral culture or an HSV DNA test can help to check if it’s herpes. Without symptoms, your doctor can prescribe a blood test to determine a diagnosis.


In most cases, herpes can go away on its own within 2-3 weeks. But symptoms can be very painful and they can sometimes get worse. If left untreated, herpes can spread to other areas of the body and develop a second bacterial infection. So, it’s important to get treatment immediately.

You can use home remedies to reduce pain of herpes. These are: apply cold compresses, use essential oils (lemon tea, aloe vera, honey, peppermint).

OTC antiviral creams such as Prosurx can help ease pain, speed healing and prevent new outbreaks. For severe cases, prescription medications is necessary. They include acyclovir, valacyclovir and famciclovir.

Learn more: 8 Reasons Why Herpes Is Not the End of Your Life

HPV and Herpes

Are HPV and herpes the same thing?

Herpes is different from HPV, and vice versa. They can cause rashes, bumps or sores in the same areas, but they are unrelated.


Both HPV and herpes are viral infections. They are all incurable and can be acquired through sex. You’re more likely to get one of these infections if you:

  • Scratch or touch the bump or sore and then touch your genitals
  • Kiss with sores or warts
  • Have sex at a young age
  • Have sex with multiple partners
  • Have sex with someone who has multiple partners
  • Have sex with a partner who has HPV or herpes
  • Don’t use protection during sex
  • Have a weakened immune system
  • Have physical or emotional stress
  • Abuse tobacco and/or alcohol

HPV and herpes are all incurable and can be acquired through sex


HPV is more prevalent in people who are sexual active. Herpes is super common and anyone can get it.

While herpes has 2 main types, HPV has more than 100 different types.

It can take several months to years for HPV to show symptoms. Herpes, on the other hand, shows up within 2 to 10 days after virus exposure. Usually, HPV does not cause any symptoms but in some cases, it has warts for symptoms. Meanwhile, herpes has painful sores or blisters for symptoms.

A vaccines is available to prevent HPV, but there is no vaccine for herpes.

Learn more: Antiviral Herbs for Fighting HPV

Most HPV and herpes are not dangerous and can go away on their own. But they can spread and sometimes turn into cancer. The only way to prevent these STDs is abstinence. Or, you can use a condom when having sex. Avoid oral sex. Adopt healthy habits. And boots your immune system.

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