All Children's Hospital Logo

Health Information Library

Teens > Q&A > Birth Control, Pregnancy & STDs > Can You Get Genital Herpes From a Cold Sore?
Can You Get Genital Herpes From a Cold Sore?

Can you get genital herpes from a cold sore?
- Lucy*

Yes — it is possible to get genital herpes from oral sex.

Genital herpes is caused by the herpes simplex virus (HSV). There are two types of herpes viruses — HSV-1 and HSV-2. Genital herpes is usually caused by HSV-2; oral herpes (cold sores) is usually caused by HSV-1.

However, genital herpes can occasionally also be caused by HSV-1. Someone with HSV-1 can transmit the virus through oral contact with another person's genitals, anus, or mouth, even if they don't have sores that are visible at the time.

Other than abstinence (not having sex) the best way to help prevent herpes is to use a condom during any type of sex (oral, vaginal, or anal). Girls should have their partners use a dental dam every time they receive oral sex to help protect against STDs. And if either partner has a sore, it’s best to not have sex until the sore has cleared up.

Reviewed by: Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: February 2011

*Names have been changed to protect user privacy.

Related Articles
T    5 Myths About STDs
T    About Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
T    Cold Sores (HSV-1)
T    Condom
T    Genital Herpes
T    Talking to Your Partner About Condoms
T    What's a Dental Dam?
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

Additional Info

Pocket Doc Mobile App
Maps and Locations (Mobile)
Programs & Services
Employment
For Health Professionals
For Patients & Families
Contact Us
Find a Doctor
News
CME

All Children's Hospital
501 6th Ave South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 898-7451
(800) 456-4543

Use Normal Template
© 2014 All Children's Hospital - All Rights Reserved