[Question #5158] Herpes Transmission

24 months ago
Thanks so much for offering this great service! Today I was speaking to someone who had a cold sore on his face. Unfortunately, the guy was a spit-talker, and as we were talking, he spit onto my face. I went home and washed my face with soap and water. However, in the process, my lips got a little dried out and chapped from the soap. My question is if you could contract herpes from someone with a cold sore spitting onto your face? And, depending what you say to my first question, would it complicate things if your lips were chapped and cracking?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
24 months ago
NO.  You cannot contract herpes from someone spitting in your face.  Chapped lips or not.
This is not the way this virus is transmitted.  It takes a certain volume of virus to transmit and saliva is a poor carrier to start with.  There's no way you would get sufficient virus to become infected through spitting.

Terri
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24 months ago

So would you be able to contract herpes if someone with a herpes sore touched the sore and then somehow touched you? Like if they touched the sore and then you shook their hand?

Likewise, if you have herpes and touch a sore on your genitals and then touch your mouth, could you transfer the infection to your mouth?

I've read that herpes sores sometimes look like pimples. Is this true? And if so, aside from having the questionable pimple swabbed, is there some way to generally tell the difference between a herpes sore and a pimple?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
24 months ago
No, that is also not how herpes is transmitted. 
If you had an infection that was well established (4 months) it is highly unlikely that you would spread it to a new place on your body
Herpes really doesn't look like pimples as much as small often grouped water blisters. 

Terri
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24 months ago

Thanks for all the information! Everything you have said so far has been extremely helpful and informative!

Does a herpes outbreak always break open and then scab over? Or, could you have something appear on your mouth or genitals that resembles a water blister and then it goes away without becoming an open sore or scabbing over?

Can you get herpes inside your mouth? If so, could it resemble a canker sore? If the answers to the previous two questions are yes, similar to my question about pimples, how would you differentiate a herpes sore inside your mouth from a canker sore?

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
24 months ago
Herpes outbreaks do not always open and scab - particularly in women on the labia, the skin fills in rather than scabs often.  But most often, in the genital skin, the water blister will open and form an ulcer. 
People can get herpes sores in the mouth, yes, and they would look like an canker sore though they are often on the hard palate where canker sores are most often on soft tissue in the mouth.  And oral herpes inside the mouth is not common and very often are accompanied by external sores as well.  The way to distinguish the two are by swab test.

Terri
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