It’s unlikely, but theoretically possible, for herpes to spread by sharing a straw or glassware.
There are two types of herpes: HSV-1 (oral herpes) and HSV-2 (genital herpes). HSV-1, which shows up as cold sores, is much more commonly transmitted than HSV-2.
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The most common symptom of herpes is a sore that can leak fluid. You can get herpes through physical contact with these active sores, although in some cases sores don’t have to be present for transmission to occur.
In addition to saliva, the virus can also be present in other body fluids like genital secretions.
In the absence of an outbreak or active sores, herpes is extremely unlikely to spread through a drink, glass, or straw.
During an active outbreak, herpes may be spread through traces of saliva left behind on dishware. Though, this is still unlikely because the virus has a very short lifespan.
The chances of getting herpes from sharing a drink with someone who has herpes — even an active outbreak of herpes — is next to zero.
While it’s unlikely you’ll contract herpes by sharing drinks, it’s always a good rule of thumb to avoid sharing glasses, dishware, or other objects, like towels or silverware, with someone you don’t know or with someone you know has herpes.
Herpes is primarily spread through direct physical contact. This can include oral-to-oral contact and oral, anal, or genital sex without a barrier method, such as condoms.
Active sores leaking fluid that contains the virus are more likely to spread the infection. But the virus can be transmitted even outside of an active outbreak.
Some show symptoms when they contract the virus or a few months or years down the line. But not everyone shows symptoms: The virus can lie dormant in the body for years without causing an outbreak.
There are periods during the herpes virus outbreak cycle when the virus is more likely to spread. This includes when:
- the area of infection begins to feel itchy and uncomfortable (about 3 days before an outbreak)
- sores are leaking fluid or otherwise open or moist (even without direct contact)
breastfeeding with an open soreon the breast
- the virus is shedding, which doesn’t cause any symptoms
The amount of time that the herpes virus can live outside of the body can vary. It’s been estimated that it can be anywhere from a few hours up to a week.
Other myths exist about how herpes spreads. Here are some of the facts:
- Herpes can spread even without the presence of active sores.
- The herpes virus can be present even without symptoms — once you contract herpes, the virus is in your body for life.
- Herpes can be contracted through oral or anal sex, even if no fluids are shared. This also includes sharing a sex toy that’s made contact with the genitals, anus, or mouth.
- Herpes can be transmitted through kissing, even if the kiss doesn’t involve any tongue.
You’re unlikely to get herpes from sharing a drink, a straw, or a glass.
But you’ll want to avoid sharing objects with someone who may have another infection, such as a cold, the flu, or strep throat.
Here’s how you can help protect yourself from getting an infection:
- Ask for a clean glass if you get a dirty glass at a restaurant, cafeteria, or anywhere where dishware is shared, such as at your workplace.
- Clean any surface you plan to use before preparing food in case bacteria or viruses are present.
- Don’t mix chopping boards by chopping or preparing raw meat on the same board as vegetables or other foods that don’t need to be cooked.
- Wash your hands immediately after handling raw meat before you touch any other surfaces or foods, especially if you’re sick.
- Thoroughly clean any surface you used to prepare raw meat or other food that might be carrying bacteria or viruses.
It’s very rare — but possible — to transmit herpes by sharing a drink, glass, or straw.
Be careful when sharing any kind of dishware that’s used in public places, and always wash anything you plan to put near your mouth if someone else may have used it.
Use barrier methods, such as condoms and dental dams, during sexual contact with new partners or those you know have herpes to avoid transmitting or contracting the virus.