General Question

monsterfish's avatar

Is oral herpes a big deal?

Asked by monsterfish (4points) October 2nd, 2008

so if someone you’re dating says, hey not for nothin, but just to let you know, i’ve got herpes – but it ain’t the downstairs kind, it’s the cold sores kind and i haven’t had any cold sores for more than five years. but thought you should know. thoughts?

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24 Answers

jca's avatar

maybe i’m a prude (and believe me I’m not a prude) but i would not want to go near him. i would not want anything that would be in me forever.

bodyhead's avatar

It’s not a big deal and it gets to be less of a big deal as you get older. Nothing will be in you forever. You’ll die in a few decades probably. Why pass up the chance with your soul-mate for a oral herpes outbreak five years previous. I’d make sure you really want to be with this person first. I also probably wouldn’t let them go down on me.

No, it’s not a big deal.

fireside's avatar

According to this article, you may have a hard time finding someone who hasn’t gotten cold sores:

About 80 percent of the population has had, at some time, oral herpes.

Fallstand's avatar

it’s not a big deal. the only time is when he has an outbreak. At that time I wouldn’t kiss him or do anything sexually because from what I’m aware of is that it can transfer to genital herpes DURING an outbreak if he were to uh.. you know.

shilolo's avatar

Not to gross anyone out, but people can get “the downstairs type” of herpes in their mouth, and the oral or “upstairs type” of herpes down below. So, there really is no point in making a distinction between the two. Estimates are that ~30% of the US population have herpes, so your potential new friend is not at all rare. I wouldn’t nix the deal on that basis alone, although I know plenty of people who are scared.

scamp's avatar

Just don’t swap any bodily fluids with this person, and you’ll have nothing to worry about. That’s about the only way to feel 100% confident these days.

Emilyy's avatar

You can always try french kissing with a dental dam just to be sure. Now that would be sexy.

lorrissey's avatar

i have had an oral herpes outbreak. it really isn’t a big deal. a several years after i found out i had oral herpes, i had an STD test before i got married and it was all clean. i haven’t had an outbreak since that initial one, so who knows?

dckiller99's avatar

no big deal everyone has it just about! i had it ten years ago hasnt popped up since!!!! was horrible but e45 cream seemed to do the trick! haha you would prob freak someone out saying oral herpes!!!!! just say coldsores!:)

augustlan's avatar

I got shingles, and was shocked to learn that it and chicken pox are forms of herpes. Who knew?

shilolo's avatar

@augustlan. You are right. Shingles is reactivation of chicken pox (Varicella, or Herpes Zoster). After you get chicken pox, the herpes virus persists for the rest of your life in the cell bodies within your nervous system. Something (usually a form of stress or weakened immune system), then triggers it to reactivate, leading to the zoster form, which typically is limited to one dermatome (meaning, the distribution of one major “nerve”).

Likewise, herpes simplex (the cause of oral and genital herpes) causes an initial infection (outbreak), and the virus also then resides in the nerves for the rest of your life. Again, usually in stressful periods, the virus reactivates, leading to another outbreak.

The two viruses share common features at the DNA level, but also common behavioral features.

augustlan's avatar

@shi: If I remember correctly (it’s been a number of years), shingles are not contagious. Is that correct? Also, can I get shingles again? I thought it was something only older people got, but I was quite young (mid 30s).

shilolo's avatar

Shingles can be contagious, though not as much as chicken pox. The vesicles (the glassy little bubbles) have virus in them, and can cause new infections in others. Also, people with weakened immune systems can get disseminated zoster (meaning all over their body) which is similar to chicken pox, and is readily contagious (even through the air).

As far as whether you can get shingles again, unfortunately, the answer is yes, you can. Depending on your age, you might be a candidate to receive the zoster vaccine.

emilyrose's avatar

I thought that oral herpes could also lead to genital herpes. That is what I have been told. Is that true or not??

shilolo's avatar

@Emilyrose. The general answer to your question is no, oral herpes cannot lead to genital herpes. I think your question stems from a misunderstanding that I tried to clarify above. Herpes simplex virus (HSV) comes in two forms, HSV-1 and HSV-2. HSV-1 primarily causes oral herpes, but about 20% of oral herpes is caused by HSV-2 (which is typically thought of as genital herpes). Conversely, while the majority of genital herpes is caused by HSV-2, a smaller percentage is caused by HSV-1. So, one could theoretically transmit HSV-1 from one’s mouth to another person’s genitals. Or, HSV-2 could be transmitted in reverse. Does that make sense?

augustlan's avatar

@shi: Thanks for the info. I’m only 41, so no vaccine for me :(

emilyrose's avatar

yes, I did not word that very well. I should have said transmitted. So, it can be transmitted then?

emilyrose's avatar

thanks, that’s what I thought! so uh, not to get all graphic or anything, but can this occur even when someone does not have sores on their mouth?

shilolo's avatar

That would be hard to prove, but the odds are much lower than when there are sores.

samantha360's avatar

As long as it’s not genital herpes I’m fine with it. STD’s are gross but a cold sore doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to me.

harty007's avatar

So if I just kissed a girl who has HSV 1 oral scabs, and I’m 31 and never had HSV symptoms should I be worried?

nighttrain's avatar

Although this question was originally posed 4 years ago, I’d like to correct a misleading answer above. To the guy who said “just don’t swap bodily fluids” – That is NOT how herpes spreads. HSV1 and HSV2 ( Also HPV) spread thru a process called “viral shedding”. Simple skin contact is all it takes. No fluids required. Even while wearing a condom, you can still get (or give) herpes from (or to) her mouth or vagina (or anus). This is because the base of your penis and scrotum is still making skin contact. Please do not think you are safe from herpes or hpv (genital warts) just because you are wearing a condom.
Also it is important to note that it can still transmit from one person to another when there are no visible sores. I know it isn’t fun to hear, but it is true.

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