Depending on the type of herpes, HSV-1 or HSV-2, oral or genital herpes, the herpes virus is transmitted by skin-to-skin contact. Spreading of herpes happens more often than most people realize because more than 60% of people who actually have herpes don’t realize that they do. Thus they end up spreading their dormant symptoms to other people, even if there are no sores present at the time. There are several different forms of skin to skin interaction that can result in the spreading of herpes. Listed below are the most common ways that herpes is spread so you know what to watch for in the future.
It’s said that an estimated 80% of the U.S. population has oral herpes, or HSV-1. Although many downplay their infection as mere “cold sores,” HSV-1 is by far the most common type of herpes. HSV-1 is generally present around in a person’s mouth. Naturally, the most common way to spread HSV-1 is through kissing. That’s not to say if you kiss someone who has herpes in that area, you will likely get it too, but if an outbreak is present, it increases your chances of getting it dramatically. Cold sores are a sign of herpes, but more people don’t realize that when they go to kiss someone. In addition to mouth to mouth interaction though, herpes may also be spread through oral sex, either by having herpes on the genitalia or on the mouth. Any form of skin to skin contact has the potential to transmit herpes, even if it doesn’t seem like it at the time.
When it comes to genital herpes, or HSV-1, this is commonly spread by sexual intercourse. If one sex partner has herpes around his or her genitals, he or she could give it to the partner in the midst of sexual activity. This includes both vaginal or anal intercourse, as well as oral sex. One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking because they don’t have an active outbreak, that herpes cannot be spread. That’s simply not true. The herpes virus sheds from the skin, in what is called Asymptomatic Shedding, even when no outbreak exists. Again, a sore does not need to be present in order to spread herpes. Also, it’s important to know that condoms do not always protect you from getting herpes 100%, as it the virus may exist on areas that are not covered by a condom. Herpes cannot be transfered through latex itself, so condoms definitely offer the best protection when sexually active.
If you are worried about transmitting herpes to someone or if you think you might contract it from a partner, there are some things you can do to lessen your chances for transmission. Many couples, where one partner is infected, lead completely normal, healthy sex lives throughout their entire relationship without ever infecting one another. If you have herpes, wait several days after an outbreak before having sex as there may be some skin sheds that will still transmit the virus. Always wear a condom during sex at that will provide a barrier between sexual organs and lessen the likelihood of spreading. You might also look into medical treatments for your herpes outbreaks, especially if they are severe. Talk to your doctor about any problems that you may be having, and be sure to get tested if you think you may have contracted herpes at some point in time.