It’s no secret that bathrooms are germy places. But can you actually catch a sexually transmitted infection like genital herpes from a toilet seat?
My mother always said, “Say please, and thank you”, and “Do not, for goodness sake, sit on public toilet seats!” Her fear was, I might catch a virus or disease left behind by the stranger who used the toilet before me.While this is solid advice, it’s not actually likely to catch a virus like herpes from a toilet seat.
The advice should have been “Don’t share chapstick with your girl friends, you might get herpes!” (Which is very likely.)
The herpes simplex virus has two types of strains: herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2). HSV1 commonly causes oral outbreaks such as cold sores, also known as fever blisters or canker sores.
While HSV2 commonly causes outbreaks below the waist, also referred to as genital herpes. The herpes virus is extremely prevalent and according to the World Health Organization, more than 67 percent of all people under 50 have this virus.
The herpes virus is also highly contagious, which might contribute to the idea that it can spread on a common surface such as a toilet seat.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are most commonly transmitted via skin-to-skin contact. As with most viruses, HSV1 and HSV2 are transmitted via mucous membranes like eyes, mouth, or genitals. The good news here is the herpes virus has a short life span when it comes in contact with air or surfaces such as toilet seats.
Even then, the live virus would have to make direct contact with a mucous membrane to have a chance to be transmitted. Getting herpes from a toilet seat is unlikely but it’s not impossible. The best advice here is to wash your hands, folks. Touching droplets of a virus and then touching your eyes, nose, mouth, or genitals could cause a viral infection and spread.
The CDC echos the idea that you cannot get herpes in this way by stating “You will not get herpes from toilet seats, bedding, or swimming pools, or from [simply] touching objects around you such as silverware, soap, or towels.”The Mayo Clinic says it’s “nearly impossible” to catch the herpes virus from a toilet seat or towel because of how quickly the virus dies once outside of the body.
Viruses such as herpes are spread through direct oral or genital contact with someone who has been infected themselves. Herpes can be transmitted sexually via kissing, oral sex, penetrative sex, or simply coming in contact with the saliva or lesion secretions from someone with the virus. HSV1 is commonly spread by kissing, sharing utensils, and sharing lipsticks/chapsticks.HSV2 (considered an STI) is commonly spread by sexual contact.
These types of transmissions are far more likely to occur than contracting it from a toilet seat. While it doesn’t hurt to be cautious of germy places like a public restroom, don’t lose sleep over the time your bum cheeks rested on a public toilet seat.
While this is a very common viral infection, that does not mean you should not seek medical attention. Keep your primary physician in the loop with any new occurrences of a viral transmission like herpes.
While there is no cure for HSV1 or HSV2 there are well trusted and well studied antiviral medications that may reduce the recurrence rate and length of outbreaks. If you are experiencing an outbreak of herpes:
At Strut, we offer Online Consultations for free with our U.S. licensed doctors to see if the antiviral medication Valacyclovir may be a good option for your HSV1 or HSV2 outbreaks. Valacyclovir may reduce the amount of time that outbreaks stick around, and may help reduce the rate of recurrence.
If you are a good candidate for treatment, your prescription medication can be shipped directly to your front door.