Herpes can be spread through direct skin-to-skin contact. It can also be passed via kissing, or any type of contact that exposes areas of the body covered by skin.
It can be spread through innocent activities like sharing utensils or touching an infected person’s sores. It can also be passed from a mother to her unborn child during pregnancy and childbirth.
Herpes is a virus that can cause sores in the mouth or on the genital area. People who have herpes can pass the virus to other people by touching their sores, putting infected saliva, or sharing personal items such as food utensils, lip balm, towels and razors. Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is most often transmitted this way, and it can be spread even when the sores do not appear. HSV-2 is more commonly associated with genital herpes and can be spread during sexual activity, although it may also be spread through direct contact in other ways. Some people who have herpes can develop symptoms such as headache, nausea and vomiting, or a painful urination called proctitis.
Can you get herpes from drinking out of a glass or straw that has been used by someone with an active herpes outbreak? It is possible that the herpes virus can be spread by traces of saliva that linger on a drink or piece of glassware, but it is unlikely to do so. Herpes viruses do not live very long, and they are usually dead within 10 seconds of exposure to air. It is also impossible to get herpes from a toilet seat, fork, doorknob, hug or handshake. However, you can contract herpes from an infected mother during childbirth. It is not clear what causes herpes contracted this way, but it may be due to the immune system of the baby being less developed at birth.
Kissing is one of the most common ways to transmit herpes non sexually. Both herpes type 1 and herpes type 2 can be transmitted through lip-to-lip contact and through saliva. The herpes virus can also spread when someone with genital herpes touches their sores and then their mouth or face. This is called autoinoculation and can cause herpes in the genital area or cold sores in the mouth.
While herpes can be transmitted through kissing, it is less likely to spread HIV or syphilis. Human papillomavirus (HPV), on the other hand, does spread through kissing. However, this only happens if both people have HPV and sores in their mouth or throat. It is not known if the herpes virus spreads through deep (open-mouth) kissing or not.
Generally, herpes only spreads when the virus is in an active outbreak. However, the herpes virus can be shed from the body even if there are no visible sores or blisters present. It is not known if herpes spreads through lip-to-lip contact or when saliva is wiped onto the mouth or cheek.
Although herpes does not cause serious illness, it can be embarrassing and stressful. A primary care doctor can help patients understand herpes, create a treatment plan, recommend medications, and access mental health resources if needed. They can also help patients cope with the stigma associated with herpes.
Despite the myth that herpes can spread through shared objects such as towels or silverware, herpes is actually very easily transmitted through skin-to-skin contact. This can include kissing, sharing food utensils or touching an infected person’s cold sore or fever blister. Infections can also be transferred through intimate contact such as oral, vaginal or anal sex.
Herpes can also be spread through sexual activity without the use of barrier methods, which increases your risk for genital herpes. Oral herpes, which causes sores around and in the mouth, is usually caused by HSV-1 while genital herpes is most often caused by HSV-2. Both types of herpes can be transmitted from mother to baby during childbirth, though this is rare.
Neither herpes virus can survive for long on surfaces, which means that herpes cannot be spread by touching a toilet seat or a faucet handle. However, herpes can be spread by using a contaminated object to wipe your hands. This is why it’s important to always wash your hands after using public restrooms.
Herpes is most likely to be spread through oral sex because the herpes virus is shed in saliva and seminal fluids. It’s also possible to contract herpes through vaginal or anal sex, though this is less common. If you have herpes and want to reduce your risk of transmission, talk to your doctor about barriers and other preventive measures.
When a woman with herpes has a sore on the mouth or genital area, she may be able to transmit the virus to her baby during childbirth. This is called perinatal transmission and it can lead to serious herpes infections for the newborn. In a study, researchers found that babies born to women who had genital herpes shed herpes during delivery. Those babies were more likely to experience herpes-related complications like recurrent encephalitis and vulvar inflammation (known as proctitis).
Women who have herpes can still give birth to healthy children. If the mother has an active herpes outbreak during labor and delivery, she should have a cesarean delivery. This surgery involves cutting through the stomach and uterus using a doctor’s knife.
The herpes simplex virus, HSV-1 and HSV-2, can also be transmitted through the sharing of utensils that have been used with infected saliva or from kissing (Rathbun, 2022; CDC, 2021). Herpes virus that enters the body through mouth or genital tissue travels to a bundle of nerves at the base of the spine, where it remains latent.
Herpes is most contagious when sores are present, but the virus can also be spread when there are no symptoms. It takes between a day and two weeks for the virus to reactivate and become infectious. People who are infected with herpes should avoid kissing, intimate contact and sharing objects that have touched saliva or genital areas. Consistent use of condoms reduces the risk, as does medical male circumcision, which provides life-long partial protection against genital herpes and other STIs including HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV).