Woman holding a chapstick and blowing a kiss

Can You Get Genital Herpes from Kissing?

Highlights 

  • Can you get genital herpes from kissing? Yes, but it’s unlikely. 
  • You can, however, get oral herpes from kissing an infected person.
  • You can also spread oral herpes to your genitals.
  • Herpes viruses don’t travel around in your body; oral herpes can’t move to your genitals on its own.
  • eDrugstore carries antiviral medications to deal with oral and genital herpes.

Can you get genital herpes from kissing? Theoretically, yes. But it’s unlikely.

To understand the risks of herpes infections, you have to understand how herpes viruses spread. So strap yourself in, and let’s look at the facts.

The Culprits: The Herpes Simplex Viruses

Herpes is a viral infection that’s caused by not one virus, but two. One, HSV-1, is responsible for oral herpes. The other, HSV-2, causes genital herpes. But telling them apart can be complicated. For example, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, HSV-2 can also cause oral herpes in some cases.

Still, there are differences between the two. If you’re unfortunate enough to acquire HSV-2 genital herpes, your outbreaks may return more often than with an HSV-1 genital infection.

It looks like HSV-1 prefers to embed itself in your face, behind your cheekbones. If it finds itself in your genital region, it does not reactivate as often as it might in your face.

HSV Viruses Spread Through Contact

To contract oral or genital herpes, you have to come into contact with open sores on the mouth or genital area of an infected person with your mouth or genitals. Saliva and various bodily fluids carry and spread the viruses.

HSV viruses don’t spread through the air, and they can’t survive for long on the surfaces of objects. On a moist surface, HSV can only survive for a matter of days.

That said, never share any object with an intimate use, such as a sex toy or a toothbrush. You can contract oral or genital herpes — and possibly worse diseases — through these objects.

The most likely infection path for HSV-1 oral herpes is through mouth-to-mouth contact. You are highly likely to contract HSV-1 by kissing an infected person who has a cold sore.

With HSV-2, the most common path of infection is the sexual one. If you have genital-to-genital contact with an infected person, there is a good chance that you will get genital herpes.

Once you contract the virus, you show initial symptoms like an eruption of sores around the infected area. These symptoms resolve within 10-14 days. After that, the virus embeds itself into your body and lays dormant until your next eruption.

There is no cure for herpes. You can, however, manage the duration and severity of your outbreaks with antiviral solutions like Acyclovir, Valacyclovir, and Denavir.

Oral Sex and Herpes

As we said earlier, there’s not always a clear distinction between the two viruses. Oral sex complicates the paths of herpes infection. While HSV-1 begins its life as an oral infection, it can transfer from the lips of one person to the genital region of another, resulting in a genital HSV-1 infection.

In the same way, an HSV-2 infection, which begins as genital herpes, can jump from one person to another through oral-genital sex, becoming oral HSV-2 herpes.

Doctors recognize HSV-1 as a virus that can cause both oral and genital herpes. They consider HSV-2 the predominant cause of genital herpes.

Can Herpes Travel From Your Mouth to Your Genitals?

Once they infect you, the herpes viruses settle in your body. They embed themselves into nerve bundles where nerves from different body parts meet.

  • The oral herpes virus embeds itself into the ganglia behind your cheekbone.
  • Genital herpes invades the ganglia in your lower back, next to your spinal cord.

Herpes viruses do not travel around in your body. If you get HSV-1 oral herpes from kissing, it will not move below your belt. It prefers to stay embedded in your face and do its damage from there.

Likewise, HSV-2 genital herpes won’t move up to cause cold sores on your face. Even if you get HSV-2 oral herpes from kissing, it won’t affect your genitals. Your immune system may not be able to kill herpes viruses, but it can prevent them from taking hold in body parts other than your most vulnerable ones.

You can, however, infect yourself orally and genitally at the same time. Having genital and oral sex with an infected person is one way to achieve simultaneous infection.

Can Herpes Spread to Other Body Areas?

Despite its inability to travel widely in your body, herpes can move around to a degree. Besides your lips, it may also cause sores in your mouth and on or in your nose. It may even infect your eyes. You can help it spread by touching your sores with your fingers and rubbing your eyes.

If you touch herpes blisters with your fingers, either inadvertently or to treat them, wash your hands afterward.

How Can You Get Genital Herpes from Kissing?

Because neither HSV-1 nor HSV-2 travels around in your body, it is almost impossible for oral herpes you get from kissing to infect your genitals. It is theoretically possible, however.

Here’s the scenario:

  • You get oral (HSV-1 or HSV-2) herpes from kissing.
  • You have an eruption and rub your sores, getting some of the fluid inside the blisters on your fingers.
  • You proceed to touch your genitals with those fingers without washing your hands.

It is possible to inoculate yourself with the virus, causing it to infect a previously herpes-free area. Theoretically, it’s possible to spread a herpes infection from your genitals to your mouth in the same way. By touching your cold sores, you risk spreading oral herpes to your genitals.

The likelihood of self-inoculation is small, however. With proper hygiene, you probably won’t spread your oral herpes to your genitals or vice versa.

Herpes is Widespread

Genital and oral herpes are common diseases that infect a large segment of the population.

According to the CDC, almost 19 million people in the US have HSV-2 genital herpes. They carry the virus in their bodies for as long as they live. If we add to that number of people who carry HSV-1 oral herpes, the picture is more alarming.

Most people with oral or genital herpes don’t know they are virus carriers. An infected person may not show any symptoms and still infect others.

There is no cure for herpes. But medications exist that allow sufferers to control the symptoms and make it less likely to pass on the infection.

eDrugstore Can Help

At eDrugstore, we carry the FDA-approved drugs you need to maintain your sexual health.

We offer free consultations with U.S.-licensed physicians to help determine the right treatment for you and issue your prescription. We’ll deliver it to your door, quickly and discreetly. And with eDrugstore, shipping is always free.

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