Can You Get Genital Herpes from a Cold Sore?

Because it is fairly widely known that there are two different strains of the herpes simplex virus, there is often a good deal of confusion about how the two are related, and if in they are closely related at all. While the two strains of the herpes simplex virus- Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 (HSV-1) and Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 (HSV-2) are similar, they are not identical. Here are some differences in the HSV-1 and HSV-2 viruses and details on the way that they are spread.

Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1

The HSV-1 will typically appear as a cold sore. This is the type of herpes virus that is most often associated with the mouth, and will normally appear as cold sores on the lip. However, HSV-1 can also appear inside the mouth, in the nose, on the hands, or in other areas of the body such as the genitals. HSV-1 can be spread very easily and can be spread in a variety of ways. Touch is one of the main ways that HSV-1 is spread to to others, but any type of contact with a cold sore, even a fleeting one, can result in the passing of the herpes virus to others. It is also possible to infect another person with herpes in the genital area via a cold sore. When an infected person has oral contact, such as oral sex, with a non-infected person, it is possible to spread the herpes virus to the area of contact. Due to this fact, it is always recommended that during an outbreak, and for at least one week after the sores have healed completely, people who have cold sores should abstain from any activity that could pass the herpes virus to others, including oral sex.

Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2

The HSV-2 virus is often referred to as genital herpes. In most cases, HSV-2 is spread by sexual contact, but it can be spread in other ways as well. As with HSV-1, cross-infection may occur. Essentially, this means that just as oral herpes can be spread to the genitals, genital herpes can be spread to the mouth. While the two viruses are different strains and each have some unique qualities, cross-infection is always possible. During a HSV-2 outbreak, it is always recommended that sufferers abstain from any type of sexual contact, even with the use of condoms or other types of protection. Both of the herpes viruses can be spread to almost any area of the body and extreme caution must be used to avoid infecting others.

Guarding against Infection

To guard against infection and prevent spreading the herpes virus to others, sexual contact should always be avoided during an outbreak and the period immediately following the outbreak. Touching the infected areas should always be avoided, and if contact occurs, hands should be washed immediately. Sharing drinks should be avoided, as should sharing eating utensils. Regular hand washing is an excellent way to make sure that the hands are kept as clean as possible and to avoid accidental spreading of the virus.