Doctors agree that the best way to avoid the spread of herpes is to be educated on how it is transmitted. Taking the time to learn about herpes and how it is passed from one person to another is the best way to protect yourself and your partner.
When thinking about how is herpes spread, remember that there are two main types of the disease. Type 1, known as HSV-1, is most commonly the cause of the oral version, often called fever blisters or cold sores. Type 2, known as HSV-2 is the main cause of genital herpes. Both oral and genital are spread in similar ways and both are very contagious.
It is important to keep in mind that the spread of herpes happens very easily. Because the virus is transmitted through physical contact, any skin to skin contact can potentially be an opportunity to pass on the virus.
Herpes stays in the body for life, even though the symptoms may come and go. When the symptoms are present, it is called a “herpes outbreak”. Many people make the mistake of assuming they cannot pass the virus on to their partner if they are not experiencing an outbreak. However, this is not the case. The virus is still there even if the person who has it is not exhibiting any symptoms. You are certainly most susceptible to catching the virus if the infected person has active symptoms, but even so, you should always be concerned about the spread of herpes. Always take precautions to protect yourself from getting the virus, or if you already have it then to keep your partner from becoming infected.
So, how is herpes spread? In addition to skin contact, it is passed on through oral sex or through vaginal or anal sex. There is some risk of spreading herpes through kissing, but this is less likely if neither partner has an open sore or lesion.
Moist areas of the body, such as the mouth, throat, eyes and genitals, are most easily infected. If your skin is cut, chaffed or burned then these areas are at higher risk of contracting the virus. Keep in mind also that the spread of herpes is not limited to one part of the body. It can be transmitted to other parts of the body, such as from your genitals to your fingers and then from your fingers to other parts of your body.
While the spread of herpes is common with skin on skin contact, it very unlikely that you would catch herpes from inanimate objects such as swimming pools, bathtubs, damp towels or toilet seats. If you focus on protecting yourself when you are in physical contact with others, then you have a very good chance of avoiding the herpes virus.