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Kissing and Cold Sores: When Is Kissing Safe?

Does having a cold sore mean kissing is off limits? Learn when it's safe to smooch again when you have a cold sore.

Read on

Cold sores are a highly contagious symptom of the herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1).

The way HSV1 is spread is by skin-to-skin contact (or lip to lip smooching). So, can you kiss someone with a cold sore?

It’s not advisable. Kissing someone with a cold sore can greatly increase the chance you might contract the HSV1 virus.

To lessen the chances you might spread or contract HSV1, let’s talk about when the coast is clear for your make-out sesh.

In this article, we will cover how cold sores are spread, when they are contagious, when it is healed enough for a smooch, and some tips to help speed up the healing process.

How is HSV1 spread?

HSV1 is a highly contagious and very common virus. Close direct contact is the number one way this virus spreads.

So, it’s easily spread by kissing, any kind of intimate skin to skin contact, as well as sharing utensils, drinks, or lip products.

When are cold sores the most contagious?

Cold sores are swollen round blisters that form on the mouth area.

These blisters are filled with contagious fluid. Around day five of a cold sore, it will begin “weeping”.

This means it will begin to release the fluid that was inside the blister. This fluid releasing stage is when cold sores are the most contagious.

However, even once the cold sore has released its fluid, it’s still considered very contagious until it’s completely healed.

Also read: The 8 Stages of a Cold Sore

Can you kiss someone with a cold sore?

Kissing is a very common way of transferring HSV1. Cold sore or not, if someone has the virus it’s possible to spread it at any point.

However, HSV1 is at its most contagious with an active outbreak present. If you or a partner have a visible HSV1 sore or scab, it’s not wise to start snogging.

Basic HSV1 cold sore etiquette:

  1. Don’t share drinks, products, or utensils.
  2. No kissing or performing oral sex when there is an outbreak.
  3. Try not to touch the cold sore to prevent further spread.

The good news is, cold sores generally clear up in about 7-10 days.

Once the cold sore is dried up, and the skin has healed, the virus particles no longer pose a big threat of transmission.

Also read: How long after a cold sore is it safe to perform oral sex?

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 (there is usually no scar left behind).

Until that point, cold sores are not completely healed - 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.

Also Read: Should I Pop My Cold Sore? (Spoiler: no!)

Valacyclovir might help speed up the cold sore healing process

At Strut, we offer free online questionnaire-based telemedicine visits with our licensed medical team.

Our doctors often help people treat or prevent recurrent HSV1 cold sores with an antiviral medication called Valacyclovir.

This prescription may help shorten cold sore outbreaks and even prevent future reoccurrences.

Have a free online consultation to see if this treatment is right for you.

If it is, Strut will ship this medication right to your door with our free shipping. Strut Health wants to help you get your groove back!

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