5:48 pm - 10/06/2003

oral sex + cold sore?

i frequently get cold sores on my mouth. it is hereditary on my mom's side and i've been getting them since childhood.

a friend just told me that i shouldn't give oral sex during this time, in case i spread herpes, but... do cold sores necessarily indicate herpes? i've given oral sex to boyfriends without condoms (both partners being tested, don't worry bout that) even if i've had cold sores, and as far as i know none of them have gotten herpes. in fact, none of them have even gotten cold sores from kissing me, even after months or years of smoochies. should i start making it a habit to refrain, or is it not a big deal?
mactavish 6th-Oct-2003 02:59 pm (UTC)
Cold sores aren't hereditary, they're a virus -- specifically, herpes simplex 1. Many people get cold sores from so early in their lives that they don't realize it's a virus they've picked up.

Yes, if you give oral sex while you've got an active sore, you can give your partner herpes (but not herpes simplex 2, the usual form of genital herpes) on the genitals. You can also give folks herpes simplex 1 if you kiss during this time. It's contagious. You can ask your doctor for more advice on how not to spread it, and consider asking for a drug like Acyclovir, which can dramatically control outbreaks.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:36 pm (UTC)
my fiance has gotten cold sores on his mouth, but none in the time that we've been together. even if we've been kissy kissy during cold-sore time on my mouth. i also have gone down on him with cold sores, but not often... i hope he doesn't get sores on his pee-pee and then spread 'em to mine. that wouldn't be very fun. i'll talk to my doc. my latest sore on my mouth has been there for over 2 weeks and it's getting annoying!
mactavish 6th-Oct-2003 03:39 pm (UTC)
The man I live with hasn't gotten a cold sore in the seven years we've been together, but I've never knowingly kissed him with a cold sore. Some people seem incredibly resistant. I'd like my boyfriend to get tested (I think there's a blood test), just to find out if he carries it but doesn't get sores, or hasn't picked up the virus from me at all.

Acyclovir has been a miracle drug for me. If I take it the moment I feel the first tingle, the sore never really materializes. (It has to be taken within 48 hours of the first tingle, or it doesn't work.)
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:51 pm (UTC)
aw, i never feel tingles. i just wake up in the morning, try to open my mouth, and feel a little crack.

i think my fiance is one of those resistant types. he NEVER gets sick from me no matter what. i got the stomach flu from the children at school that i worked with, and i passed it around to most of my friends and family, and he never even had a belly ache.
junni 6th-Oct-2003 04:30 pm (UTC)
aw, i never feel tingles. i just wake up in the morning, try to open my mouth, and feel a little crack.

Are these sores on the _inside_ of your mouth? Are you sure these aren't canker sores to which you're referring? Canker sores tend to occur inside the mouth. Cold sores occur outside on the lips, face, etc... and canker sores can be hereditary.

Canker sores: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000998.htm

Cold sores: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000606.htm
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 04:48 pm (UTC)
they're on the side of my mouth. where my upper and lower lips meet. i'll read up more on canker sores though, thanks!
clydiebaby 6th-Oct-2003 09:16 pm (UTC)
you can go on suppressive therapy, which is what I am on, where you take a lower dose every day. I don't get many cancer sores (another form of the virus) anymore, but when I do get the flu or a cold it kicks my ass cause the germs have to be pretty strong to combat the Acylovir.
thornedillusion 6th-Oct-2003 04:20 pm (UTC)
I don't know of a blood test for HSV1, but my HSV2 test always comes back "inconclusive" and my doctor says that's because of the HSV1.
mactavish 6th-Oct-2003 03:40 pm (UTC)
The man I live with hasn't gotten a cold sore in the seven years we've been together, but I've never knowingly kissed him with a cold sore. Some people seem incredibly resistant. I'd like my boyfriend to get tested (I think there's a blood test), just to find out if he carries it but doesn't get sores, or hasn't picked up the virus from me at all.

Acyclovir has been a miracle drug for me. If I take it the moment I feel the first tingle, the sore never really materializes. (It has to be taken within 48 hours of the first tingle, or it doesn't work.)
krasota 6th-Oct-2003 07:52 pm (UTC)
Oral cold sores are *typically* HSV-1, but not necessarily. Ditto with veneral herpes blisters--usually HSV-2, but not necessarily.


I control my oral herpes with l-Lysine. I ask for acylcovir if I have a really bad outbreak, though. It lessens the duration and pain.

irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 07:54 pm (UTC)
what's l-Lysine, and how does one obtain it?
krasota 6th-Oct-2003 08:13 pm (UTC)
it's an amino acid which is thought to prevent the viral replication of herpes virii.

i buy it in capsules at the local whole foods market, but the co-op, vitamin store, etc, all have it.

i also keep an eye on my lysine/arginine balance when i'm having problems with the sores.


What are your sores like? Are you *sure* they're cold sores? You say they only happen at the corners of your lips? I get sore spots there when I don't eat properly, but they're not cold sores. Cold sores tingle before they pop up. They're collections of several fluid-filled blisters. They burn horribly, hurt like hell, and itch. They actually cause me some nasty nerve pain at times. The blisters eventually drain and crust over. Eventually the crust falls off and the skin starts to heal. Mine are triggered by stress, other illnesses, too much citrus, and sunlight.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 08:15 pm (UTC)
they're raised, cracked skin (since they're on the place where my lips separate, that's where the crack in) that looks like a really small vagina. there's no fluid in them. i usually rub ointment into the crack and it feels a lot better, but i have to do it once every half hour or so because it hurts and is dry. and i can't open my mouth.

people usually look at them and say "ooh, you've got a cold sore" so i just assumed that's what they are... perhaps not?
krasota 6th-Oct-2003 08:22 pm (UTC)
there's a few pictures in the top two rows of typical cold sores.

Chances are you've got dry, cracked lips. Get enough riboflavin? That's one common symptom. I get them when I don't eat enough green veggies, but I might be weird. ;)

irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 08:24 pm (UTC)

you have solved hte mystery. i do not indeed have cold sores.
lizzvoltage 7th-Oct-2003 01:00 am (UTC)
I used to get those a couple years back! Ohhh, they were SO annoying.

They went away when I went vegetarian. ? Spurious correllation, perhaps, but I can't think of anything else that changed...
irememberaurora 7th-Oct-2003 04:24 am (UTC)
strange indeed. meanwhile, i have never eaten meat in my life. vegetarian from the womb. as were my parents and grandparents. i wonder how to get rid of these then. they rarely last more than a week, and i've had this one for 3 weeks, and it sucks to kiss or yawn or brush my teeth. boo!
omega_h 7th-Oct-2003 07:14 am (UTC)
Also, a vitamin B deficiency and lack of iron can cause little cuts on the corners of the lips.
irememberaurora 7th-Oct-2003 01:03 pm (UTC)
now THAT is probably EXACTLY what it is! i'm a vegetarian and i live on campus and use the meal plan. as such, they don't have the best options for me, and i wind up eating pasta with sauce or grilled cheese or salad every single day.

i gotta start taking my vitamin supplements.
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melebeth 6th-Oct-2003 03:07 pm (UTC)
I know that asymptomatic shedding is a problem for genital herpes (i.e. being infective when you don't have symproms), but I don't know how much of an issue it is in the oral cavity. That having been said, most people with oral herpes (cold sores) get it when they're children from affectionate relatives squealing over them and kissing them. Somehow I find this massively destigmatizes the disease.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:35 pm (UTC)
huh, that's weird. my relatives are not the affectionate kissy type - in the part of india where i'm from, being all kissy smoochy drooly isn't very common. at least, not on either side of my family. so i wonder where i got it! i've had cold sores since i was a child. i always thought it was genetic since my mom gets them. hmmmmmmmmmmm...... maybe i got the smoochies from teachers, or friends' parents, or something?
melebeth 6th-Oct-2003 03:39 pm (UTC)
Your mom wasn't kissy with you at all? Wow. Cultural differences are neat! But yes, any person with cold sores being kissy face with you, could transmit it... not just strange aunties. I just associate it with awful cheek-pinching older relatives who smell of too much cinnamon and baby powder.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:48 pm (UTC)
yeah, and she actually thinks it's weird to be very kissy with your kids. i mean, she's always affectionate and jovial and happy, and lets us know she loves us, but she's never much on physical contact. my father is more the huggy, wet-kiss-on-the-cheek type, but not often.
clydiebaby 6th-Oct-2003 09:20 pm (UTC)
Or sharing drinks with your mom...

Although they cheek-squishing old ladies image I got had me rolling!
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 11:02 pm (UTC)
actually, my family and i don't share food or drinks either. i have with other friends, though, because it doesn't bother ME. it actually has to do with the transmittance of saliva, the whole no-big-smoochies and not sharing drinks and stuff. it's considered very germy and gross in my family, and so it is avoided in such unnecessary situations.
clydiebaby 6th-Oct-2003 11:17 pm (UTC)
I think it was a generational thing. My parents think it is gross to share with friends. Weird how it doesn't carry over to family for them...
irememberaurora 7th-Oct-2003 04:30 am (UTC)
perhaps. some in my family were very almost OCD about it, not wanting to touch a plate that touched a spoon that touched someone else's lips.
elfbabe 6th-Oct-2003 03:14 pm (UTC)
Cold sores and genital herpes are both caused by the herpes simplex virus. However, there are two variants of HSV - one generally causes sores above the waist, one generally below. The majority of the population is infected with HSV1, the kind that gives you cold sores and prefers to stay above the waist. You usually get it as a kid when you auntie gives you a big kiss or something like that.

There's a very good page here on HSV1 and HSV2 and oral/genital transmission, but it's kind of complex. So, to summarize for your situation...

It would be possible for you to give your partner HSV1 in the genital area by performing unprotected oral sex. Even though HSV1 likes the upper body best, it'll still take hold in the genitals. However, if your partner already HAS HSV1 in the mouth area, then it's really unlikely that it would also affect him in the genital area. Really REALLY unlikely.

So, if your partners remember ever having had cold sores, then they're pretty safe. If they don't remember having them, they may ALSO be safe, because only 10% of infected people actually get the sores.

As for what to do? Your choice, I guess. If it's a partner you can talk to about these things without having an OMG HERPES U SUX0R reaction, then you may want to warn them just on the very small chance that there might be problems. But if it's a casual partner, you shouldn't feel like a horrible evil person for not telling, either.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:32 pm (UTC)
okay. my fiance said he does remember having cold sores on his mouth, though not often. and i have gone down on him during times where i've had a cold sore, and we don't seem to have problems. we've agreed to take it easy from now on though, and perhaps avoid it.

i've had this cold sore for like a month, though. oh well... sucks for him. or, better yet, NO sucks for him. >=)
elfbabe 6th-Oct-2003 03:55 pm (UTC)
Well, I'm trying to find the medical journal article that would give exact transmission rates, but it doesn't seem to be available online. Sadness. Anyway, good luck, and please do remember that just 'cause you don't have any sores doesn't mean that you're not shedding virus - something like 5% of the time when you don't have any obvious sores, you're still shedding virus. (Which means that your fiance could theoretically infect YOU, though it's quite unlikely, going from his mouth to your girlybits.)

Not trying to make you paranoid or anything. ^_-
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 04:06 pm (UTC)
i've just read, though, that if you have HSV-1 in the mouth already, it's unlikely that it'll spread to your genitalia? i guess we'll have to be careful either way, though.
elfbabe 6th-Oct-2003 04:12 pm (UTC)
Yes, that's what I was saying... HSV1 in the mouth means probably no HSV1 in the genitals. Probably. But not for SURE. So, it's a question of just how much you want oral sex at any given time. ^_-
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 04:22 pm (UTC)
oh. that was you. me and my poor short term memory. :)
sarah_bearah 6th-Oct-2003 03:16 pm (UTC)
This really isn't anything besides a randomish comment, but even if it does spread, is there a big deal?
It doesn't do anything besides give you the occasional cold sore, does it? Because I've had it since I was a kid, and most of my boyfriends have indeed gotten it from me who didn't have it already...
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:33 pm (UTC)
yeah, if it spreads to the mouth cold sores are no big deal, but my worry is that i'll spread it to his genitalia and then he'll spread it to mine, and i bet that's way more uncomfortable. i hate cold sores on my mouth... so painful and i can hardly open my mouth!
thornedillusion 6th-Oct-2003 03:34 pm (UTC)
Just because you don't mind having it, doesn't mean other people will feel the same. I've had HSV1 since I was a kid, and I've always hated it. The cold sores hurt, and I wouldn't knowingly inflict them on anyone. Any partner I have, no matter how casual, knows that kissing me carries the risk of getting HSV1, and I voluntarily abstain from kissing when I have a cold sore.

I'm also super careful about cross contamination when I have an active outbreak, no shared anything that touches my mouth and everything gets washed at least once a day. I have never passed it to anyone, and all of my partners have thanked me for being so considerate about it.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:38 pm (UTC)
huh. i never really got that they could be transmitted so easily. however, my ex boyfriend, who i was with for 3 years, NEVER has gotten a cold sore in his life despite the fact that we definitely had many smoochies during many cold sores of mine.

it's good to be so vigilant about it though. i too detest cold sores. the one on my lip now is painful and has been around for the past few WEEKS. i can't open my mouth all the way and it's so ANNOYING!
thornedillusion 6th-Oct-2003 03:50 pm (UTC)
You'd be surprised at how easy it is to spread the virus. The most contagious time is when the blisters first begin to form, when most people aren't even aware they have a cold sore. I've gotten so I can tell I'm getting a cold sore long before it's even visible.

As far as helping healing goes, you should baby it. Lotions with L-Lysine are really good for it and are comparitivley inexpensive. If you can afford it, Abreva works extremely well at healing cold sores, it got rid of one of mine in 5 days, but it runs about $15 for a tiny (.07oz) tube. Wash everything, including your toothbrush, every time you use it so you're not re-infecting yourself. Stay away from salty and spicey foods. Also avoid caffine, chocolate, and nuts. Try not to lick/touch/pick at the sore. The main thing that keeps mine from healing is my tendancy to lick them (I get them dead center of my bottom lip). Hope some of this helps. I've had some truely nasty ones in my time, so I know how it feels.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 03:53 pm (UTC)
wow, i can NEVER tell before i get them. i just wake up unable to open my mouth. i ALWAYS get mine on the corner of my mouth, where my lower and upper lip meet on the side. on the right. and so i can never open my mouth without pain.

i generally put blistex ointment on it which seems to help, and they never seem to stick around long. this one is a killer though. i've had it FOREVER!
ninaf 6th-Oct-2003 08:12 pm (UTC)
Thats horrible. I can't believe anyone would say that. Yes its a big deal.
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 08:27 pm (UTC)
i think what she meant was, IS it a big deal, because she probably wasn't aware that it definitely can be.
clydiebaby 6th-Oct-2003 09:25 pm (UTC)
Would you want someone who didn't mind dealing with a yeast infection (also spreadable) to take that attitude towards you?
Yeah, they won't kill you, but they hurt like hell. Why would you knowingly put someone you care about in the position to get them?
irememberaurora 6th-Oct-2003 11:03 pm (UTC)
i think the comment was meant to be more of an uninformed "wait... is it really a big deal?" rather than a decisive "it's no big deal!"
clydiebaby 6th-Oct-2003 11:23 pm (UTC)
I hope so, but it SERIOUSLY did not come across that way.
I think a lot of people think of it as a "little" disease, but it is one that causes a lot of pain. There are times when I can hardly talk due to the pain in my mouth and I would never think of putting someone I care about in the position of receiving that pain. I think that she had a responsibility of researching the disease and how it is spread before she spread it to those people.

Whether she was ignorant, or simply did not care about the well-being of her partners, she displayed an incredibly immature and insensitive attitude, which will always rile people up. She hasn't replied to any of this, you have only replied for her, so I can't say either way.
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