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How is herpes transmitted non sexually?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

Herpes is a very common viral infection. There are millions of people in the UK living with it right now, but due to the stigma surrounding it – it’s not being spoken about. 

But here’s the thing: it’s not only spread through sexual contact, and it’s really nothing to be ashamed of. 

You can get herpes, even if your partner doesn’t have it

How did I get herpes if my partner doesn't have it?

There are two main types of herpes: HSV-1, which often causes cold sores, and HSV-2, known for genital sores.

Though it’d make sense that HSV-2 would only be transmittable through sex, this isn’t the case – in fact, it transmits much the same way as HSV-1.

Here are some ways it can be transmitted:

  • Skin-to-skin contact: herpes can spread through direct skin-to-skin contact with an infected area. This means that even a simple touch, like kissing or touching an affected area, can transmit the virus from one person to another.

  • Sharing personal items: herpes can also be transmitted by sharing items like utensils, towels, razors, or lip balm. If these items come into contact with the herpes virus, they can serve as vehicles for transmission to another person.

  • Indirect contact: even when the infected person has no visible sores, it’s still possible to pass the virus indirectly by leaving the virus on surfaces like doorknobs or bathroom fittings.

  • Maternal transmission: In rare cases, pregnant women who have herpes can pass the virus to their newborn during childbirth. This mode of transmission, known as neonatal herpes, can have serious consequences for the baby if not promptly treated.

Frequently asked questions about herpes

How do you catch herpes?

You catch herpes through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area or by sharing items like utensils or towels.

How common is herpes?

In the UK, herpes is quite common. About 70% of people have HSV-1, the type that causes cold sores, and roughly 10-20% have HSV-2, which typically leads to genital herpes.

How to get herpes?

Herpes can be contracted through skin-to-skin contact with an infected area, sharing personal items like utensils or towels, and during childbirth from an infected mother to her newborn.

A couple sit with a doctor discussing a recent herpes outbreak, they don't know how they got it.

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