The 6 types of herpes viruses are herpes simplex virus type 1, herpes simplex virus type 2, varicella zoster, Epstein-Barr, cytomegalovirus, and Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus.

Herpes is actually a variety of illnesses that affect both humans and animals. Herpes is cause for much alarm as it can result in incurable lifelong infections. The different viruses that fall under the Herpesveridae family are the cause behind herpes.

Herpes simplex virus type 1

Herpes simplex virus type 1, or HSV-1, is among the herpes viruses that stay dormant within nerve cells; it is the cause behind oral herpes or cold sores. The nerve area where the virus is dormant consequently experiences some skin symptoms. This type of herpes virus is transmitted by making contact with the affected skin such as sharing lip-care items and cups. People infected with this virus can experience symptoms such as a burning or tingling sensation prior to the outbreak of cold sores. People who have weak immune systems can easily be infected by the virus even when the cold sores have disappeared.

Herpes simplex virus type 2

The commonly known genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus type 2, or HSV-2. HSV-2 can be passed from one person to another by contact with skin that has been affected by the virus; the skin may or may not have an outbreak. HSV-2 is similar to HSV-1 because it becomes latent after the nerve cells have been infected. The skin around the affected nerves may also have blisters just like in HSV-1.

Varicella zoster

Varicella zoster (VZV), or HHV-3, is the virus that causes chickenpox and, if it recurs later, it also causes a condition called shingles. VZV, just like HHV-1 and HHV-2, becomes latent within nerve cells. People who have not had chickenpox are the only ones that can be infected by VZV. The virus is transmitted through coughing, sneezing or from the chickenpox sores. Shingles, on the other hand, is less itchy compared to chickenpox but is more severe.


Epstein-Barr is also known as HHV-4. It is a cancer-causing virus and one of the most common ones to affect humans. In fact, in the United States almost 50% of all five year old children and about 90% to 95% of adults show signs of infection. When contracted during childhood, the virus shows no symptoms but, in the case of young adults, HHV-4 can result in mononucleosis. There has been some strong evidence that suggests that the virus has a function in the pathogenesis of diseases like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus and dermatomyositis.


Cytomegalovirus is also known as Human Herpes Virus 5 (HHV-5) and, more commonly, HCMV. Just like other herpes viruses, HCMV has the characteristic of staying dormant in the human body over a long duration of time. It is also a very common virus found in all geographic locations and is said to infect about 50% to 70% of the adult population in the United States. But it typically does not cause any symptoms. In the case of people who are HIV positive the disease can cause visual impairment and a number of other problems.

Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus

Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpes virus is formally known as HHV-8. It is known to lead to a type of skin cancer known as Kaposi’s sarcoma. Kaposi’s sarcoma affects people who have AIDS.

Awareness of the different types of herpes viruses is the most basic form of protection one can have against the illness.