[Question #1510] Cold sores

45 months ago
When is it okay to kiss or have personal contact after a cold sore?  I had a  cold sore that started over two weeks ago but it never blistered since I am on Valtrex.  There still is a slight red spot on my lip.  Is it still contagious?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
45 months ago
I think my answer depends upon the personal contact that you are planning on having and with whom.  If you are talking about a passionate kiss or giving someone oral sex, it is highly unlikely that you would be infectious to others, especially since you are on Valtrex, but I can't say there is zero chance that you could be shedding virus.  If you are talking about kissing a child with a peck on the cheek or lips, that's quite safe.  I think what you are saying is that you started to get a cold sore and the Valtrex stopped it from developing into a full blown cold sore, is that correct? 

I'm guessing that you already know that you could be giving off virus from your lips, even when you don't have a cold sore, but the Valtrex greatly reduces the frequency of viral shedding. 

Terri
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45 months ago

That's correct.  I started to get a cold sore but Valtrex stopped it from fully developing.  It's been three weeks since the cold sore first started.  I still feel occasional tingling in the area.  Does the tingling mean it's even more contagious?  Also, what is the standard advice for females with hsv1 regarding oral sex.  


Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
45 months ago
It's really impossible to know if you are actively shedding virus at any specific time when you don't have an actual sore.  Out of caution, I would say it is possible with tingling that you might be shedding. 
Your next question is trickier.  And opinions are not consistent between providers.  So I will give you my personal opinion.  I think one of two things could happen - you could disclose your HSV 1 status to the person to whom you are giving oral sex and ask if they have ever had a cold sore - if they have, there is almost not risk of transferring it to the genital area of that person.  I suppose the other option would be to have that person (if a male) always use a condom and be careful that your mouth is only in contact with the condom.  The other option of course would be to disclose AND have your partner use a condom.  New research just out this month suggests that people with recurrent cold sores shed virus on about 27% of days - not a small number of days.  Let me know what you think about that response.

Terri
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