Cold sores, also known as oral herpes and fever blisters, are common viral infections. According to the American Sexual Health Association, more than 50 percent of adults in the United States have the condition.
How can you catch cold sores?
Cold sores are contagious, especially when the blisters are oozing, but in some cases, a person can be contagious even when the blisters are not present. Now that we know what cold sores are, what are the ways you can catch cold sores, whether through direct sexual contact or through contact that is not sexual?…
Kissing someone who is infected with HSV-1 is one of the primary ways of contracting a cold sore.
Why kissing can transit cold sores
If you kiss someone who has a visible cold sore, you can contract HSV-1. However, even if the infected person does not have a visible cold sore, you can still contract it.
How to protect yourself from cold sores from kissing
You can refrain from kissing. However, you may also follow safe habits concerning kissing.
- Limit kissing to one person who is also only kissing you.
- If you want to kiss a new partner, discuss their sexual history before you do.
- Be aware of the body of your partner. Are there any signs of a cold sore?
2. Sharing Cosmetics
Another way to catch cold sores is by sharing cosmetics such as lip balm.
Why sharing cosmetics can transit cold sores
It’s very common for family members and friends to share cosmetics, such as eye makeup or lipgloss. However, sharing eye makeup from someone with a contagious condition, such as pinkeye, can likely pass the condition to you. Likewise, sharing lipgloss from a person infected with a cold sore can pass HSV-1 on to you.
How to protect yourself from catching a cold sore from sharing makeup
This one is easy; don’t share makeup. If, for some reason, you have to share a lipstick or lipgloss from a friend or family member, wipe off the top layer to help avoid spreading germs.
3. Sharing Razors
One of the non-sexual ways to contract cold sores is by sharing a razor with an infected person.
Why sharing razors can transit cold sores
Razors carry bacteria. That means they are capable of spreading blood-borne pathogens like hepatitis B or C, but they’re also capable of spreading HSV-1.
How to protect yourself from catching a cold sore from a razor
To avoid coming in contact with someone else’s bacteria, including someone infected with HSV-1, never share razors. Always use your own and do not allow others to use yours.
4. Sharing Toothbrushes
You should never share toothbrushes, in part because it’s possible to contract a cold sore.
Why sharing toothbrushes can transit cold sores
Sharing toothbrushes is a perfect way to spread bacteria and viruses. You could catch a life-threatening infection, such as meningitis, or you could catch a cold. You can also contract a virus that will never leave your body, such as HSV-1. Remember that an infected person can still be infectious without visible signs.
How to protect yourself from catching a cold sore from sharing toothbrushes
Always use your own toothbrush, even with family and friends. It’s never wise to share.
5. Sharing Towels
You may not realize it, but sharing towels with other people is another way to catch a cold sore.
Why sharing towels can transit cold sores
Cold sores are caught only by direct skin contact to the affected area. So how can you get it from sharing a towel? You won’t, unless, according to the Herpes Virus Association, there is warm pus on the towel that comes in contact with your skin. So even though catching a cold sore by a towel is rare, it can happen.
How to protect yourself from catching a cold sore from a towel
Even though catching a cold sore from a towel is rare, it is still advised not to share towels with others. Furthermore, towels can retain moisture and bacteria. You should dry your towel in an open space and not share it with anyone, including family members.
6. Sharing Food
Although rare, sharing food with an infected person can pass HSV-1 on to you.
Why sharing food can transit cold sores
If an infected person puts food in their mouth and then shares it with you, they can pass on their cold sore virus. As Dr. Kaufmann said, as reported at Everyday Heath, “The virus can survive for a little while on non-living items.” These items include food.
How to protect yourself from catching a cold sore from sharing food
Sharing food is a fun thing to do with friends and family, but do it safely. For example, if you want to share a piece of cake with a person, cut the cake in half, place each half on a plate and enjoy the cake with separate forks.
7. Sharing Drinks
Sharing drinks with a person infected with a cold sore puts you at risk of contracting the infection.
Why sharing drinks can transit cold sores
Sharing drinks with others is highly unsanitary and can lead to spreading viruses and diseases. This is because saliva can transmit things like the common cold, strep throat, and HSV-1.
How to protect yourself from catching a cold sore from sharing drinks
As fun as it may be to share drinks, avoid it. Always drink from your own bottle, glass, or cup, and don’t share your bottle, glass, or cup with anyone.
8. Sharing Utensils
It’s possible to get a cold sore by sharing utensils with an infected person.
Why sharing utensils can transit cold sores
Like sharing towels, the chances of catching a cold sore from sharing utensils with people is rare. However, if there is warm pus on utensils from an infected person and you make skin contact, you can catch it.
How to protect yourself from catching a cold sore from utensils
To be on the safe side, avoid sharing utensils.
9. Sharing Straws
If you share a straw with a person infected with a cold sore virus, you can get a cold sore.
Why sharing straws can transit cold sores
Catching HSV-1 by sharing straws is another form of indirect contact, such as sharing utensils. As an example, saliva exists on a straw that’s being used. If the saliva is from an infected person, and you share that straw, you can contact the virus.
How to protect yourself from catching a cold sore from sharing a straw
To protect yourself, don’t touch other’s straws. Always use your own straw and only drink out of your own glass or cup.
10. Oral Sex
One sexual activity that can result in oral herpes or cold sores is oral sex.
Why oral sex can transit cold sores
If a person performs oral sex on someone who is infected with HSV-2, they can get HSV-1 or HSV-2.
How to protect yourself from cold sores from oral sex
As with all transmissions that can occur from sexual activity, practicing safe sex is always advised. However, as reported at John Hopkins Medicine, many healthcare professionals do not believe there is such a thing as “safe sex.” The only truly safe way, many healthcare professionals feel, is not to have sex. However, not having sex is unrealistic.
- Limit sexual activity to one person who is also only having sex with you.
- If you have sex with a new partner, discuss their sexual history before you act.
- Use condoms, even during oral sex. A dental dam can be placed over the vagina or anus for oral sex.
- Be aware of the body of your partner. Are there any signs of infection?
- Avoid alcohol or drug use during sex. It can inhibit logical thinking and lead to unsafe sexual activity.
Although no cure exists for this condition, your doctor can help you with management. Also, your doctor may advise anti-viral medication to lessen the occurrence if you are getting repeated cold sores.