Can You Get Herpes From Kissing
Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Herpes Simplex Type 1 is one of the most common viruses in the world, with upwards of 67 percent of the world population under the age of 50 carrying it, according to the.
This common virus causes cold sores around the lips and on the gums, with most people experiencing an outbreak once a year, give or take.
Many people who show no oral herpes symptoms are asymptomatic, meaning theyre infected with the HSV-1 virus but dont have oral herpes sores or other visible herpes symptoms.
Because of this, a very large percentage of people with HSV-1 arent even aware that theyre infected.
However, typical visible herpes symptoms include visible cold sores and lesions on or around the mouth, fever, tingling on the mouth or lips, headache, etc. .
Of course, unless you suspect you may be suffering from an initial outbreak, it’s best to just keep your eyes peeled for visible lesions.
Im Pregnant How Could Genital Herpes Affect My Baby
If you are pregnant and have genital herpes, prenatal care visits are very important. Some research suggest that a genital herpes infection may lead to miscarriage or make it more likely to deliver your baby too early. You can pass herpes to your unborn child before birth, but it more commonly passes during delivery. This can lead to a deadly infection in your baby . It is important that you avoid getting genital herpes during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had a genital herpes diagnosis or symptoms. Also tell them about any possible exposure to genital herpes.
If you have genital herpes, you may need to take anti-herpes medicine towards the end of your pregnancy. This medicine may reduce your risk of having signs or symptoms of genital herpes when you deliver. At the time of delivery, your healthcare provider should carefully examine you for herpes sores. If you have signs or symptoms of genital herpes at delivery, a C-section is likely to occur.
The Health Risks Of Genital Herpes
Pain and discomfort are the main health effects of genital herpes, but the virus can also cause emotional and social problems for those infected. Although it cannot be cured, genital herpes can be managed with antiviral medication that may help control the recurrences. On rare occasions, genital herpes may cause serious complications such as blindness and inflammation of the brain.
Genital herpes can sometimes be passed from an infected mother to her child during pregnancy or birth. The infection can be life-threatening to the child or result in skin lesions or brain damage. Antiviral medication and a cesarean delivery can reduce the risk of infecting the child.
Don’t Miss: Can You Have Kids If You Have Herpes
Can You Get Genital Herpes From Kissing
An intimate 10-second kiss can transfer over 80 million bacteria. Though this might help some long-term couples by diversifying their oral bacteria , exchanging saliva can often transfer illnesses. Unfortunately, no one is exempt from the disease-spreading dangers of kissing. Though people in long-term relationships may fare slightly better, anyone can get sick this way. Data from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control shows nine diseases that are transmitted through saliva.
Can Genital Herpes Spread From Kissing
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease caused by two types of viruses namely herpes simplex type 1 and herpes simplex type 2 which are both transmitted by having sexual contact with an infected individual. According to the Center for Disease Control , about one in every six people aged 14 to 49 years have genital herpes in the United States, while the World Health Organization , estimates that about 140 million people primarily in the Americas, Europe, and Western Pacific aged between 15-49 years are infected with HSV-1 virus. Click Here to see: Genital Herpes symptoms
How the Disease Develops
Can You Get Genital Herpes By Kissing Without Being Sexually Active?
What is the difference between cold sores and genital herpes?
How to Prevent Herpes
How can I make sure I dont give anyone herpes?
Yes You Can Get Herpes From Kissing
Unfortunately, it’s not a myth. HSV-1, or oral herpes, is spread through direct contact, which means it is possible to become infected if you kiss a person that has the virus.
In fact, even if that person isnt experiencing an outbreak or showing any symptoms of the virus, they can still spread it to you via a process called asymptomatic viral shedding.
Even if its just a peck on the lips, its still enough contact to spread the virus under the right circumstances.
You May Like: How Long Does An Initial Herpes Outbreak Last
Cold Sores Are Controllable
You cant control love but you can take some precautions to control a cold sore. Considering that cold sores are caused by a virus that means they are contagious. The virus spreads by skin-to-skin contact. Cold sores can be caused by kissing or from sharing objects like toothbrushes, cups, lip balm, or utensils. So, before you pucker up for your loved one, you may want to consider that you could spread the virus to them.
Usually a cold sore will go away on its own but you can speed up the process by applying Abreva® Cream at the first sign, like when the skin tingles. Abreva® is clinically proven to shorten the healing time of a cold sore.
How Do You Get Herpes
The skin on your genitals, mouth, and eyes can be infected easily. Other areas of skin may get infected if theres a way for the herpes virus to get in, like through a cut, burn, rash, or other sores. You dont have to have sex to get herpes. Sometimes herpes can be passed in non-sexual ways, like if a parent with a cold sore gives you a peck on the lips. Most people with oral herpes got it when they were kids. A mother can pass genital herpes to a baby during vaginal childbirth, but thats pretty rare.
You can spread herpes to other parts of your body if you touch a herpes sore and then touch your mouth, genitals, or eyes without washing your hands first. You can also pass herpes to someone else this way.
Herpes is most contagious when sores are open and wet, because fluid from herpes blisters easily spreads the virus. But herpes can also shed and get passed to others when there are no sores and your skin looks totally normal.
Most people get herpes from someone who doesnt have any sores. It may live in your body for years without causing any symptoms, so its really hard to know for sure when and how you got it. Thats why so many people have herpes its a pretty sneaky infection.
Because the virus dies quickly outside the body, you cant get herpes from hugging, holding hands, coughing, sneezing, or sitting on toilet seats.
Also Check: What Is Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1
Is There A Cure For Herpes Simplex
There is no cure for herpes simplex. Once you have the virus, its a lifelong infection.
What is the outlook for people with herpes simplex?
For many people, the first herpes outbreak is the most severe. Many outbreaks are less frequent and milder after the first year of infection. Some people may have only one outbreak and never have another again.
How Is Genital Herpes Spread
If you do not have herpes, you can get infected if you come into contact with the herpes virus in:
- Saliva or genital secretions
- Skin in the oral area if your partner has an oral herpes infection, or skin in the genital area if your partner has a genital herpes infection.
You can get herpes from a sex partner who does not have a visible sore or who may not know he or she is infected. It is also possible to get genital herpes if you receive oral sex from a sex partner who has oral herpes.
You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels. If you have additional questions about how herpes is spread, consider discussing your concerns with a healthcare provider.
Also Check: How To Heal Herpes Outbreak Quickly
How Likely Is It That I Now Have Genital Herpes Too
That depends on several things, including whether you and your partner always use a condom and how long youve been sexually intimate with each other.
If youve had sex only once or twice, and if you used a condom each time, the risk is lower than if youve had unprotected sex for a long time. But you could have been infected during any one encounter.
Even if youve never seen herpes sores on your partners genitals or your own, you still might have it. The symptoms of genital herpes are often subtle are easy to mistake for something else, like bug bites, pimples, razor burn, or hemorrhoids. Also, the virus can be contagious even when there are no symptoms.
Read Also: What Makes Herpes Flare Up
My Partner Doesnt Have Genital Herpes So How Can I Have Caught It
Your partner could be one of the two out of three people with herpes simplex who have it so mildly they do not realise. So they could have sex when the virus is active. Mild symptoms can appear as a pimple, a little cut or an itchy bit of skin and yet these are very infectious. When people with these mild symptoms learn to recognise them, then they can avoid sex at these times. Another possibility is that your partner does not have herpes simplex and you caught it from a previous partner. It is possible to have a first outbreak many years after first catchin it.
Also Check: Why Is My Herpes Outbreak Getting Worse
Is It Safe To Breastfeed If I Have Genital Herpes
Yes as long as there isnt an open lesion on your chest or breast. If you have an active outbreak while breastfeeding, its possible to spread the infection to your nipples through touch. Careful hand-washing can prevent this spread. You shouldnt nurse from a breast that has herpes sores. You can pump breast milk until the sores heal. Dont give your baby expressed breast milk if the pump comes into contact with an open sore.
Does The Type Of Kiss Matter
Nope. Full-on tongue action, a peck on the cheek, and every other kind of kiss in between can spread herpes.
There isnt any research showing that one type of kiss is riskier than another when it comes to oral herpes risk. That said, theres evidence that the risk of some sexually transmitted infections goes up with open-mouthed kissing.
Remember that kissing isnt restricted to the face either making oral-to-genital contact can transmit HSV, too.
The risk of transmission is higher when there are visible sores or blisters, but you or your partner can still contract herpes oral or genital if symptoms arent present.
Once you contract herpes simplex, its in the body for life.
Not everyone experiences an outbreak, but everyone with the virus experiences periods of asymptomatic shedding. This is why herpes can be spread even when there are no visible symptoms.
Its impossible to predict when shedding will occur or how contagious you or your partners condition will be. Everyone is different.
You shouldnt, especially during an outbreak.
You can contract herpes from sharing any objects that have made contact with the saliva of a person who carries the virus.
That said, HSV cant live very long off of the skin, so the risk of contracting it from inanimate objects is very low.
Still, the best way to minimize your risk is to use your own lipstick, fork, or whatever else.
For starters, avoid direct skin-to-skin contact during an outbreak.
Don’t Miss: How To Prevent The Spread Of Genital Herpes
How Do People Get Herpes
Herpes is transmitted through human-to-human contact, usually through kissing or sex. As long as there is skin contact, a person with herpes can infect another person, even when they are not exhibiting any symptoms.
Both HSV-1 and HSV-2 are notorious for lying dormant in nerve cells, where they can remain inactive for some time.
When the virus becomes active, it replicates and becomes transmittable through saliva and other body secretions. This process is called viral shedding. During this period, you may or may not experience symptoms.
Once a person becomes infected with the herpes simplex virus, the virus never leaves the body. As a result, the HSV infection may recur from time to time.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Genital herpes doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women diagnosed with herpes genitalis should start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy to prevent outbreaks during delivery. If you have an active infection at the time of childbirth, you can pass the herpes virus to your baby. Neonatal herpes puts a baby at risk for blindness, brain damage, skin infections and death. Your healthcare provider will perform a cesarean section to lower this risk.
Read Also: Do Std Screenings Test For Herpes
How Are Stds From Kissing Treated
It depends on the STI. HSV-1 and HSV-2 can be treated with antiviral medications like acyclovir, famciclovir, and valacyclovir, according to the World Health Organization. But while these medications can help reduce symptoms, as well as how often they show up, they cant actually cure the infection.
Healthy people with CMV usually dont need treatment, the CDC says. But if you have a weakened immune system and you contract CMV, there are antiviral medications like valganciclovir that can help.
Syphilis can be cured with an injectable form of penicillin, the CDC says. If syphilis is at a later stage when its diagnosed, more than one injection might be needed.
Dont Miss: How To Date Someone With Herpes
How To Tell If You Have Genital Herpes
Genital herpes can be asymptomatic, which means you wont notice any symptoms. The signs and symptoms of a herpes breakout include:
- Painful blisters on and/or surrounding the genital area
- Discomfort such as tingling or burning in the genital area
If you experience symptoms of genital herpes, visit a doctor.
Don’t Miss: How Long Does Your First Outbreak Of Herpes Last
How Is Genital Herpes Treated
There is no cure for genital herpes. However, it is possible to reduce the symptoms using anti-viral medicine. This is most effective when started within 72 hours of the first symptoms.
Medicines can help control outbreaks if they are frequent or severe. Anti-viral medicine can reduce the risk from passing the virus on to a sexual partner.
The symptoms can also be helped by:
- gently bathing the area with a warm salt solution
- pain medicine, such as paracetamol or ibuprofen
- local anaesthetic ointment or cream
- urinating while sitting in a warm bath, if urination is painful
Myth: You Always Get A Herpes Outbreak Soon After Becoming Infected
Herpes is a sneaky infection. It can exist in the body for months or even years without showing symptoms, but its still contagious nonetheless.
If you do develop an outbreak, it will most likely happen two to twelve days after initial exposure to the virus. After the blisters break, they can take up to four weeks to heal.
Fortunately, subsequent outbreaks tend to be less intense. Recurring outbreaks are common but dont last nearly as long. These sores tend to heal within three to seven days, and the number of outbreak periods may even decrease over time.
Read Also: How To Make Oral Herpes Go Away Faster
Also Check: How To Date When You Have Herpes
What Can We Do To Reduce My Chances Of Getting The Herpes Infection
If you take the necessary precautions, the chances of getting the herpes virus from your partner are reduced. Genital herpes does not mean abstinence from sex or a reduced enjoyment of sex.
The risk of transmitting the herpes virus can be reduced by about 50% if you use condoms. The continued use of condoms in a long-term relationship is a personal decision that only the couple can make. Most find that as the importance of the HSV infection in their relationship is seen in perspective, that condom use becomes less relevant if this is the only reason condoms are being used.
However, most couples choose to avoid genital skin-to-skin contact during an active episode of herpes because this is when the herpes virus is most readily transmitted. This period includes the time from when your partner first has warning signs of an outbreak, such as a tingling or burning in the genitals, until the last of the sores has healed. Also, sexual activity prolongs the healing of the episode.
Herpes transmission risk is increased if there are any breaks in the skin. For example, if you have thrush or small abrasions from sexual intercourse, often due to insufficient lubrication. It can be helpful to use a lubricant specifically for sexual intercourse and avoid sex if you have thrush. A sexual lubricant is helpful right at the start of sexual activity.
If you or your partner has a cold sore, it is advisable to avoid oral sex as this can spread the herpes virus to the genitals.
What Are The Symptoms Of Genital Herpes
Most people infected with genital herpes have no symptoms, but some people can experience:
- stinging or tingling in the genital area
- small blisters on the genital area that develop into small painful red sores
- sores that look like a rash or cracked skin on the genitals
- difficulty passing urine
The first episode of infection can also have flu-like symptoms such as:
After the first episode, the virus remains dormant in your body for the rest of your life, which means you can experience recurrent episodes of sores and blisters.
Recurrent episodes are usually milder, shorter and less frequent over time. They are more likely to occur when your immune system is weak, due to illness, tiredness or stress.
Don’t Miss: What Does It Feel Like To Have Herpes