Truth: You Can Get A Cold Sore By Kissing
The rumor is true: Kissing someone with a cold sore can transfer the virus that causes it from them to you. One of the most common ways the virus is spread is through kissing, because the virus frequently occurs around the mouth and the lips, said Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. Even if you dont see the sores, the virus can still be contagious. But you should be especially cautious about kissing someone who has active blisters, because thats when the virus spreads most easily.
If youre currently dealing with a cold sore, youll want to get rid of it fast. When you have a cold sore, it may be all you can think about, and it might even stop you from hanging out with people. Thankfully, with medicine like Abreva Cream, you can get rid of your cold sore in two-and-half days1. And Abreva Cream starts to work immediately, based on laboratory studies .
How Is It Diagnosed
You should see a doctor or other healthcare provider if you suspect youve contracted herpes.
A healthcare provider can usually diagnose herpes with a physical exam and one or more of the following tests:
- a viral culture, which involves scraping off a sample of the sore for examination in a lab
- a polymerase chain reaction test, which compares a sample of your blood and from a sore to determine which type of HSV you have
- a blood test to check for HSV antibodies from a past herpes infection
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.
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Who Might Get Genital Herpes
Genital herpes affects sexually active teens and adults of all genders and races. It can spread if you have multiple sexual partners and dont use condoms, including dental dams.
Women are more at risk. Delicate vaginal tissue can tear, making it easier for the infection to get in. Black women are especially vulnerable. An estimated 1 in 2 Black women between the ages of 14 and 49 is infected with HSV-2, the virus that causes genital herpes.
Can You Spread Herpes Without An Outbreak
Yes. It is possible for a person to spread herpes without an outbreak. As long as the person has a herpes infection, they can spread it even if an outbreak has never occurred.
Fortunately, many people who have a herpes infection never have an outbreak. If an outbreak does occur, visible symptoms such as sores and blisters will show up in the affected area. These symptoms may become visible about two and a half weeks after exposure.
When a person has an initial outbreak, they may experience symptoms such as painful urination and muscle and joint pain.
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Kissing And Cold Sores: What Are The Rules
Medically reviewed by Patrick Carroll, MD
Cold sores are small blisters and sores that can develop on and around the lips. Theyre known medically as herpes labialis and theyre an extremely common occurrence, with about 2.5 out of every 1,000 people experiencing at least one outbreak per year.
Like other forms of herpes sores, cold sores are caused by the HSV-1 or HSV-2 viruses. Most cases of cold sores are the result of HSV-1, which is estimated by the World Health Organization to affect more than two thirds of people aged 49 or below.
Cold sores typically heal on their own, usually over the course of one to two weeks. Most people that develop cold sores will experience occasional recurrence, as the virus that causes cold sores remains dormant in the body even when you dont exhibit any physical symptoms.
Like all forms of the herpes simplex virus, cold sores are highly contagious. Kissing and cold sores is risky business, because if you kiss someone while you have one or more cold sores, theres a significant risk of the other person being exposed to and infected by the virus.
In this guide, well explain how cold sores can transmit HSV-1 from one person to another. Well also explain when it’s safe to kiss someone after a cold sore, engage in oral sex or have any other kind of oral contact.
Other Std Prevention Methods
Other steps you can take to help prevent STD transmission, regardless of how they spread, include:
- Getting vaccinated against HPV and hepatitis B at the recommended age.
- Getting tested so you know your STD status and seeking the appropriate treatment, if necessary.
- Being open and communicating with your partner about any STDs either of you might have.
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Can You Get Herpes From Kissing Someone Without An Outbreak
Can you get herpes from kissing somebody when there are no visible blisters or symptoms? If you are not already aware, many people with herpes usually have no symptoms. That is why many people live normal lives and may spread the virus to others unwittingly through kissing. If you or your partner is positive, make sure you get timely treatment to avoid possible health complications in the future.
Once you test positive for herpes, it cannot be reversed. But that is not the end of a happy sexual life for you. Did you know that about 90 percent of American adults come in contact with HSV-1 by the time they reach the age of 50? And not everyone contracts HSV-1 through sexual contact. Many people are exposed to the virus at young ages through kisses from families or relatives who carry the virus. So, can you get herpes from kissing? Yes, you might, especially when there are sores and blisters on the skin of the person who has herpes.
When Is A Cold Sore Healed Enough To Get Back To Kissing
The coast is clear when the cold sore is completely gone and there is no visible scab.
The last stage in cold sore healing is when the scab and flakiness completely disappear, leaving healthy skin underneath . Until that point, cold sores are not completely healed â which means, no kissing to avoid spread.
This healing process can take 7-10 days. Whatever you do, do not try to pop your cold sore in an effort to speed up the healing process. This can actually backfire on you. Read: Should I Pop My Cold Sore?
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Herpes Through Indirect Contact
Less commonly, it is possible to contract herpes without skin contact.
This could involve sharing personal products that touch the sores or saliva of an infected person, like razors, washcloths, or other facial care products.
It could also involve sharing cups or utensils.
However, these are not primary ways that herpes spreads.
Anyone with an active cold sore or herpes blister should avoid allowing anyone else to come into contact with the sores, and should not kiss or share utensils or other objects that have saliva on them until the outbreak is over.
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.
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What Are The Chances Of Getting Herpes From Kissing
Contact with active lesions and saliva can transmit HSV-1, which causes oral herpes. But you dont need to have a visible cold sore to transmit the infection to others. Studies have shown that almost 1 in 10 adults have HSV-1 in their oral secretions even though they dont have active herpes outbreaks or visible cold sores. With that said, the chances of transmitting the virus are far greater when there is an active herpes outbreak because the viral load is 1,000 times higher in active HSV-1 lesions.
So, given that so many people have HSV-1 in their saliva is it safe to ever kiss again? The chance of transmitting the virus is low when there are no symptoms, so it is probably safe to kiss someone who doesnt have a cold sore. However, if someone has an active HSV-1 lesion , its best to avoid kissing them.
How Does Genital Herpes Spread
The herpes virus that causes genital herpes spreads through saliva, semen and vaginal secretions. Its possible to get genital herpes from someone who doesnt have visible symptoms. You can have the infection, not know it and infect someone else.
Research has found it is possible for genital herpes to spread through:
- Oral sex with someone whos infected.
- Skin-to-skin contact without ejaculation.
- Touching open sores, including while breastfeeding.
- Childbirth by a mother who has an active infection.
You cant get genital herpes from objects like toilet seats. But you could pass genital herpes through shared sex toys.
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Can I Catch Herpes Simplex Off Towels Cups Or Anything
No, you will not catch it off anything. The virus is caught from the skin, not from objects. It is a delicate virus and dies quickly when away from the skin where the sore is. There is more about transmission in our Transmission leaflet available to members. This statement is taken from the guidelines for doctors produced by the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.
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Herpes Is A Common Infection
Herpes is a super-common infection that stays in your body for life. More than half of Americans have oral herpes, and about 1 out of 6 Americans has genital herpes. So chances are a few people you know are living with herpes.
Theres no cure for herpes, but medication can ease your symptoms and lower your chances of giving the virus to other people. And the good news is, outbreaks usually become less frequent over time, and even though herpes can sometimes be uncomfortable and painful, its not dangerous. People with herpes have relationships, have sex, and live perfectly healthy lives.
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Can I Pass Herpes On To My Baby During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, it is possible for the herpes virus to be passed on to the baby. However, the vast majority of women with genital herpes have normal pregnancies and deliver healthy babies.
The virus can be transmitted via:
- the placenta, when the baby is still in the womb
- during delivery or
- after the birth .
Fortunately, women who have genital herpes before falling pregnant and those infected early in pregnancy have a low risk of passing the virus on to their babies, because their body has built up antibodies to the virus. These antibodies cross the placenta to protect the baby.
What Happens If I Dont Get Treated
Genital herpes can cause painful genital sores and can be severe in people with suppressed immune systems.
If you touch your sores or the fluids from the sores, you may transfer herpes to another part of your body, such as your eyes. Do not touch the sores or fluids to avoid spreading herpes to another part of your body. If you do touch the sores or fluids, immediately wash your hands thoroughly to help avoid spreading your infection.
If you are pregnant, there can be problems for you and your developing fetus, or newborn baby. See Im pregnant. How could genital herpes affect my baby? above for information about this.
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Facts About Cold Sores
Cold sores usually appear as a single watery blister on the lip or mouth, or several blisters that consolidate into one.
However, HSV-1 can also lead to genital herpes during oral sex and HSV-2 can sometimes lead to cold sores.
HSV-1 is very common. About 67% of the worldâs population under age 50 has HSV-1.
Cold sores affect roughly 3 of every 1,000 people each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Of these, 33% will experience subsequent attacks triggered by stress, fever, and other causes.
Once you have HSV-1 it doesnât go away. If you develop a cold sore, the virus can spread more easily.
Cold sores are typically spread through saliva and direct contact. You can get them through kissing or sharing lip balm with someone who has a cold sore.
Cold sores can be painful and may take up to 14 days before active healing begins.
How To Prevent Transmission Of The Herpes Simplex Virus
As mentioned above, the genital blisters and cold sores that appear during herpes outbreaks are highly contagious. To protect yourself from herpes infections, you should avoid oral contact with a person who has active symptoms around the mouth. You should avoid sexual activity with sexual partners with genital herpes.
Using a condom can help reduce the transmission of herpes and other sexually transmitted infections. However, this is not a foolproof method because the condom may not cover all areas of the skin, so you may still pass genital herpes to others. Remember, the virus can spread even if there are no noticeable symptoms.
If you have HSV-1 or HSV-2 and are worried about herpes transmission or frequent outbreaks, talk to your healthcare provider about suppressive therapy with antiviral drugs. Antiviral therapy can help to reduce the severity of subsequent outbreaks. Topical antiviral medications may be used to manage symptoms, i.e., relieve pain and itching during an outbreak. Also, oral and genital herpes treatment with antiviral medications can reduce the risk of transmission of the virus to others.
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Use This Treatment To Speed Up Recovery And Prevent Future Outbreaks
Cold sores dont have to control your life or your love life! Use the Luminance RED to speed up healing time and prevent your next outbreak altogether.
The light from the Luminance RED is metabolized by your skin and turned into cellular energy, which your skin uses to heal faster and force the herpes virus into hibernation. Clinical data conclusively shows that this type of treatment reduces healing time by up to 50% so that you can get back to doing what really matters!
The Luminance RED can be used before, during, and after outbreaks to fight symptoms of HSV-1 and HSV-2. Thanks to the precise design of the Luminance RED, every treatment provides a medically optimized wavelength and irradiance of light necessary to maximize treatment efficiency and prevent cold sore outbreaks. Try this advanced light therapy to get back to kissing faster than ever before.
Can I Spread Herpes By Kissing On The Cheek
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How Can I Prevent Genital Herpes
If youre sexually active, you can take these steps to protect yourself and others from herpes virus and other STIs:
- Be monogamous with one sexual partner or limit your number of partners.
- Get tested for STIs and complete any needed treatment.
- Tell your sexual partners if you have genital herpes so they can get tested.
- Use condoms, including dental dams during oral sex.
- Wash your hands often if you have an outbreak or are around someone with symptoms.
If your sexual partner has genital herpes, these actions can lower your risk of getting the virus:
- Dont have sex when your partner has active symptoms.
- Make sure your partner takes antiviral medication as prescribed.
- Wait to have sex until scabs fall off.
How Does Genital Herpes Affect Pregnancy
Genital herpes doesnt affect fertility or your ability to conceive. Pregnant women with a diagnosis of herpes genitalis are recommended to start a daily antiviral at 36 weeks of pregnancy to prevent outbreaks during time of 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.
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Can You Get Herpes From Kissing An Inanimate Object
Keep in mind that oral herpes can be transmitted via saliva. So, when you kiss or come in contact with an object with the saliva of a herpes-positive person, such as a lip balm, you may get herpes. However, HSV cannot survive long outside the body, so the possibility of getting herpes from an inanimate object is very low. But that does not mean you should let your guard down and take the risk. Always try to use your own stuff and opt for an STD test if you suspect that you may have contracted HSV.
Dont keep wondering, can you get herpes from kissing if you just learned that the person you kissed has herpes. While you may or may not have contracted the disease, timely testing and treatment are always better than living with the anxiety of whether or not can you get herpes from kissing. So, can you get herpes by kissing a person who carries the virus? Yes, you might. But there are various barrier methods to prevent the transmission of both HSV-1 and HSV-2, such as condoms, dental barriers, and refraining from kissing during outbreaks.
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