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Oral Sex and Cold Sores: Can HSV1 Cause Genital Herpes?

Learn more about oral sex and cold sores. Including what stages are the most contagious and how to avoid transmission to your partner.

Read on

The assumption that cold sores can only be spread to the mouth area is a common misconception.

Unfortunately, the virus that causes cold sores, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1), can also cause genital herpes.

Giving or receiving oral sex when someone has a cold sore can increase the risk of genital herpes.

There are two types of herpes viruses, herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV1) and herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV2).

HSV1 is more commonly associated with oral herpes, and HSV2 is associated with genital herpes. However, HSV1 can cause genital herpes as well.

Also Read: Kissing and Cold Sores: When Is Kissing Safe?

What’s a cold sore?

Many people are very familiar with the uncomfortable and common oral blisters that can form on the lips, tongue, or mouth. These blisters are commonly called cold sores and are caused by HSV1.  

The World Health Organization reports that globally, nearly 67 percent of people under 50 have HSV1 (that’s 3.7 billion people).

HSV1 is thought to be at its most contagious when someone has a visible sore or blister.

So, it is best not to kiss or have intimate direct contact with someone with an active cold sore.

Read Related: Lysine for Cold Sores: How Does It Work and How Much To Take

how long after a cold sore can you give oral?

The complete healing process of a cold sore might take 7-10 days.

However, the process may be shortened with the use of antiviral medications. The indication that it’s safer to have oral sex is when the cold sore is nowhere to be seen.

The scab and flakiness should be completely gone and the skin should show no signs of the cold sore.

If performing oral sex, there should be no visible sign of a cold sore, as well as no symptoms of an oncoming cold sore.

If you have a cold sore or any symptoms of a cold sore, do not perform oral sex to lessen the risk of spreading HSV1 to your partner’s genitals.

Regardless of a current outbreak, herpes can be spread by way of asymptomatic shedding, but the risks are much higher when an active outbreak is present.

It’s best to use condoms and/or dental dams during oral sex to protect both yourself and your partner.

Also Read: How To Stop Early-Stage Cold Sores: 6 Ways To Help Heal Cold Sores Faster

The most contagious cold sore period

Around day five of the cold sore process, the cold sore is at its most contagious. During the stage called “weeping” a cold sore releases contagious fluid.

If this fluid comes in contact with skin, the virus can spread very easily.

If your partner gets cold sores, Planned Parenthood says it’s best to use a condom during oral sex and wait until cold sores are totally healed.

Valacyclovir from Strut for cold sores or genital herpes

Strut Health offers free online questionnaire-based telemedicine consultations with our licensed medical team.

Every day we help people navigate HSV1 and HSV2 treatment. We also offer the prescription medication Valacyclovir as an antiviral treatment to help clear cold sores sooner or even help prevent their formation (if you get them all the time).

This prescription may speed up the outbreak healing process and might help prevent future outbreaks.

If our doctors think you are a good candidate for Valacyclovir tablets, Strut can ship your prescription right to your door.

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