How is Herpes Transmitted Non Sexually? Facts Uncovered Here

Herpes is one of the common infections caused by viruses. Having a basic understanding of how it spreads is very important to keep yourself and others protected. Though sexual transmission is the primary way herpes spreads, it is equally significant to know its transmission through non-sexual means. So, if you are wondering, “How is herpes transmitted non sexually”, you have landed on the right page! In general, herpes can transmit from one person to another in many non-sexual ways like skin-to-skin contact, sharing personal items, etc.

In this article, we will learn about various ways through which herpes is transmitted non-sexually in detail. With this, we have an overview of herpes, its types, and many related questions. Let’s explore the article and uncover the important information associated with the transmission of herpes without sex.

Glance At The Topic:

  • Herpes is a viral infection caused by herpes simplex viruses such as HSV-1 and HSV-2.
  • Oral herpes is caused by HSV-1 and the symptoms include cold sores in or around the lips or mouth, fever, body aches, fatigue, etc.
  • Genital herpes is caused by HSV-2 and the symptoms are sores or blisters in or around the areas of the genitals, anus, or inner thighs, itching, fever, fatigue, etc.
  • To reduce the chances of herpes and prevent it, you can consider some measures such as keeping personal hygiene, avoiding touch during skin outbreaks, practicing safe sex, using personal items separately, and more.

Understanding Herpes

Herpes is a common infection that causes sores, pain, inflammation, and swelling in your mouth or genital areas. This viral infection is caused by two types of herpes simplex viruses: HSV-1 and HSV-2. The following are the two types of herpes people are infected with:

1. Oral Herpes

This type of herpes is typically caused by HSV- 1 virus which might spread through sexual as well as non-sexual contact. The common silent herpes symptoms associated with oral herpes are fever, body aches, painful cold sores near your lips and mouth, fatigue, tingling, itching, etc.

2. Genital Herpes

It is usually caused by HSV-2 viruses that may spread through sexual contact such as via oral, vaginal, or anal sex. It affects around 22% of the adult population between the ages of 12 and above. The primary symptoms of genital herpes are sores or blisters in or around the areas of the genitals, inner thighs, or anus, fever, fatigue, headaches, itching, etc.

Surprisingly, many herpes-affected people do not experience symptoms. Even if there are no or mild symptoms, a person can still spread the virus to another one.

Do you know?

Herpes affects around 3.7 billion of the population worldwide. Research says around 1 out of 6 people between the ages 14-49 in the United States are living with genital herpes and the chances of women being affected with it are higher.

Sexual or Non-Sexual Transmission

Though sexual transmission plays a major role in the transmission of herpes, you also equally need to acknowledge the transmission of herpes non-sexually. Let’s distinguish between both ways of transmission to better understand how herpes is spread.

1. Sexual Transmission

Herpes is often spread through sexual activity. It gets directly transmitted from one person to another via skin-to-skin contact during sexual intercourse be it oral, vagina, or anal. If a person has genital or oral herpes, they can spread the associated virus to their partners.

2. Non-Sexual Transmission

Herpes can also spread via non-sexual contact. For instance, the direct contact with the skin of a person living with herpes, sharing personal things like razors, lipsticks, etc. Moreover, environmental factors like surfaces contaminated with herpes can also transmit the virus.

Understanding the differences is important for the right knowledge to determine the cause and follow the preventive measures. Though practicing safe sexual activities is essential, it is equally vital to know the transmission of the virus through non-sexual ways which most people are unaware of.

Is Herpes an STD or STI?

As per a study, oral herpes and genital herpes are STIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). It is because both infections are passed from one person to another via vaginal, anal, and oral sex. Genital herpes is often spread by skin-to-skin contact while having sexual intercourse. On the other hand, oral herpes is transmitted via kissing, sharing personal items, etc. An individual who engages in oral sex with people living with genital herpes, there is a chance of getting cold sores in their mouth. Herpes spreads more smoothly when a person has open sores and blisters.

How is Herpes Transmitted Non Sexually?

Though herpes is a sexually transmitted infection, it has some non-sexual interactions as well. While sexual transmission frequently gets the limelight, learning how is herpes transmitted non-sexually is a key to awareness. So, the following are the ways through which herpes is spread from one person to another without sexual contact:


Herpes can be transmitted via direct non-sexual contact that is direct skin-to-skin contact with an affected person. This means a simple touch, handshake, kissing, or touching areas affected with the herpes virus.

Is herpes contagious when not active sexually?

Yes, herpes is contagious when not active sexually. It can spread by getting directly in contact with the skin of the person affected by the virus.

Can you get herpes without kissing?

Yes, you can get herpes without kissing, Simple handshake or touch with an infected person can spread herpes.

Can you catch herpes from someone without sores?

Yes, you can get herpes from people without sores. Even if there are no symptoms of sores, the virus can still be active in the body and can spread to another person.


Indirect contact such as via contaminated objects, herpes can also be spread. For instance, sharing things such as razors, lip balms, towels, and other personal things with an infected person can lead to indirect transmission of herpes without sex. Hence, it is important to be aware of the places where personal things are shared like gyms.

Can you get herpes from smoking?

Yes, if you smoke the used cigarettes of an infected person, you have the risk of getting herpes.

Can you get herpes from sharing lipstick?

Yes, sharing the lipstick with a person living with oral herpes raises the chances of getting the same.

Can herpes pass through fabric?

Herpes virus can survive on the fabric for up to 72 hours. Coming in contact with the fabric within this period can pass the virus to a person in contact with it.


Oral herpes is associated with cold sores in or around the lips or mouth while genital herpes is associated with sores in anal and genital areas. This means if a person engages in oral sex with another person living with oral herpes, this can lead to genital herpes. Therefore, it is important to discuss your history of oral herpes with your partner to lower the chance of herpes transmission.


In rare cases, during childbirth, a woman can pass the herpes virus to the newborn. This form of transmission called neonatal herpes can have serious consequences for a baby as it can cause severe health issues. Hence, pregnant women living with herpes need to discuss with doctors to prevent the risks.

How to Reduce the Chance of Infections and Prevent Herpes?

Practicing good hygiene is very important for lowering the chances of transmission of herpes, especially in non-sexual contexts. This is particularly essential during the phase of active breakouts when the herpes virus is present on the surface of the skin. Doing this will protect you from this viral infection as well as improve the overall well-being of other people by preventing the risks of the spread of the virus.

The following are the measures to consider for reducing the chances of an infection and preventing its recurrence:

1. Frequent handwashing

Wash your hands regularly with simple soap and water. This is a simple yet effective measure to get rid of herpes infection. Frequent handwashing is particularly necessary after coming in direct contact with areas or surfaces infected with herpes virus.

2. Avoid touching during skin outbreaks

If any person around you experiences a herpes outbreak, avoid direct touching of the skin with the affected areas of that person. This will prevent the spread of herpes to different body parts.

3. Use personal items separately

Do not share personal items like drinking bottles, towels, lip balm, or razors, as these can hold the herpes virus. So, having personal items separately can reduce the chances of indirect herpes virus transmission.

4. Practice safe oral sex

Make use of dental dams and condoms to prevent the transfer of oral herpes.

5. Cover mouth while coughing and sneezing

If you are infected with a herpes infection, always cover your nose and mouth while sneezing and coughing. This will prevent the transmission of the herpes virus via respiratory droplets.

6. Maintain a clean environment

If you or anyone around you have herpes infection, frequently disinfect or regularly clean the surfaces that are touched every day like bathroom fixtures and doorknobs. This will help lower the chance of environmental transmission.

7. Getting tested

Testing for sexually transmitted diseases like herpes is important even if you are not getting any symptoms. This helps in the early detection and treatment which can lower the chances of severity of the infection as well as transmission to other people.

Final Thoughts

This article explores how herpes is transmitted non-sexually. You also learn that nonsexual means can transmit herpes. Those may include direct non-sexual contact like kissing, handshake, and touching areas affected by the virus; indirect contact like sharing personal items with an infected person; oral-to-genital transmission like oral sex, and maternal transmission, the spread of the virus from mother to a newborn during childbirth. By understanding all the means by which herpes spreads, you can consider some measures to reduce and prevent the risks of herpes. This can contribute to protecting yourself from herpes infection and creating a safe and healthy community by preventing its spread to people around you. So, if you have herpes, do not hesitate to seek help from professionals for the right guidance and treatment.

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