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How is Herpes Spread?
Specific Situations to Avoid

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How is the Herpes Virus Spread from one person to another? How long does an outbreak stay contagious?

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Herpes can be spread by the following situations:

Kissing, touching and caressing infected areas

Sexual contact with the infected area (vaginal, oral, or anal sex)

Skin-to-skin contact with the infected area can transmit HSV-1 and HSV-2

Kissing someone if you have a cold sore can transfer the virus and the person you kiss can then contract herpes in the area kissed

The virus can be transmitted to your partner if you have active genital herpes and have vaginal or anal intercourse

If you have a cold sore and put your mouth on a partner's genitals (oral sex), the partner can be infected with genital herpes. Consequently, oral sex should be avoided if one partner has a facial herpes attack.

People who experience an episode of herpes, either facial or genital, should consider themselves infectious from the start of the episode up until the healing of the last ulcer

Occasionally, one partner in a long-term relationship may develop symptoms of herpes for the first time. Often this is due to one or both of the partners being carriers of HSV and not knowing it

From mother to baby during pregnancy or at birth

Herpes can rarely be by the following situations:

From a toilet seat. Though the herpes simplex virus may live only a short time, it is technically possible to touch an infected toilet seat, then touch yourself and become infected but it's highly unlikely.

From eating after a person with herpes. While it's possible to catch herpes if you eat or drink directly after a person with active fever blisters, catching herpes from cups or plates used by someone with dormant herpes would be rare.

Catching herpes from towels is also unlikely unless towels are very moist and, again, you use the towel directly after a person with active herpes lesions.