Can You Get Herpes From Sharing a Drink? Know the Risks

By Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN
Medically reviewed checkmarkMedically reviewed
August 18, 2022

Herpes is a common virus family that includes sexually transmitted infections.

It is not likely, but there is a slight possibility of contracting herpes from sharing kitchen utensils or drinks at certain times.

Herpes simplex is a virus that causes both oral herpes and genital herpes.

Oral herpes is not always contracted from sexual contact. You may be exposed to HSV-1, the virus that causes oral herpes, in other ways.

In this article, I’ll talk about how herpes is transmitted.

I’ll also outline some risks, precautions, and prevention.

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Can You Get Herpes From Sharing a Drink?

It is unlikely that a person would get herpes from sharing a drink.

It is, however, technically possible.

Herpes can be transmitted via saliva, so using a cup or a straw immediately after someone with an active herpes infection could transmit enough of the virus to pass the infection.

Outside of an active cold sore outbreak, however, the risk of getting herpes from a shared drink alone is slim.

The virus does not live long on surfaces, and is primarily spread through direct contact with the infected person.

While it’s highly unlikely that you could get herpes from shared drinks, it’s always best to practice good hygiene and avoid sharing food, drinks, towels, or other close-contact objects with someone you don’t know well or who has an active infection of any kind.

How is herpes transmitted?

Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), also known as oral herpes, is more easily transmissible than HSV-2 (genital herpes).

HSV-1 is transmitted via contact with cold sores that leak fluids or from the saliva of a person with an active infection.

The herpes virus can also be transmitted via other body fluids such as during sexual contact.

You cannot get herpes from any of the following:

Oral herpes transmits more easily than genital herpes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that nearly 48% of the U.S. population have HSV-1, while just under 12% have HSV-2.

HSV-1 may be spread by kissing, oral sex, or shared objects that touch the sores or saliva of someone with an active outbreak, including:

  • Razors
  • Lip balm or lipstick
  • Cosmetic products

HSV-1 and HSV-2 may also less commonly be passed from a pregnant person to their infant during delivery.

Oral herpes does not always cause cold sores in people who carry the virus, so it is possible to spread it without knowing that you have it.

HSV-1 is not a sexually transmitted disease, even though it can be spread during sexual contact.

Unlike bacterial infections, which can be cured with medication, viral infections live in the body for the rest of a person’s life.

Viruses can go dormant and never cause symptoms again.

But they can also reactivate and lead to outbreaks, as with either HSV-1 or HSV-2.

In an outbreak of oral or genital herpes, a patient may be more likely to transmit the infection for a few days before the outbreak begins.

During this time, they may experience itching, burning, or tingling sensations that may happen before sores form.

It is also more transmissible during active sore outbreaks until the sores are fully dry and crusted over.

How long does herpes live outside the body?

Herpes can live outside the body for a few hours or as long as 7 days.

HSV-1 and HSV-2

The herpes simplex virus affects an estimated 3.7 billion people across the world and nearly half of all American adults under the age of 50.

While the infection can go dormant, it is not possible to fully get rid of a herpes infection.

What people refer to as herpes is actually caused by two similar viral strains: herpes simplex virus-1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus-2 (HSV-2).

HSV-1 is commonly referred to as oral herpes and is passed via both sexual and non-sexual contact.

HSV-2 is known as genital herpes and is a sexually transmitted infection (STI).

Both strains result in painful sores or blisters that appear, erupt, and resolve typically within 1-2 weeks.

It is also possible to have either strain of herpes and have no symptoms at all.

After an initial exposure and infection, signs and symptoms can appear anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Symptoms of HSV-1

The more common of the types of herpes viruses, HSV-1, or oral herpes, typically presents with the following symptoms.

It can also be asymptomatic.

  • Painful sores or blisters in or around the mouth or nose
  • Sores in or around the eyes
  • Less commonly, sores on the chin or cheeks
  • Tingling, itching, or numbness 1-3 days before sore outbreaks
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Body aches

Symptoms of HSV-2

HSV-2, or genital herpes, impacts more than 11% of people ages 14-49 in the U.S.

The primary symptoms include:

  • Sores, blisters, or lesions in or around the genitals, anus or inner thighs
  • Sores in the vulva, labia, cervix, or vagina
  • Tingling, itching, or numbness 1-3 days before sore outbreaks
  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Body aches

It is possible to have HSV-2 and be asymptomatic.

HSV-1 may also cause genital sores, and HSV-2 may also cause mouth, eye, or facial sores.

Common Shared Items that Spread Herpes Virus

While the herpes virus may be able to live on surfaces for up to a week, contracting the virus via inanimate objects is highly uncommon.

It is most often spread through direct contact with an infected person, such as via kissing or sexual contact.

When someone has a virus, however, it is a good idea to practice good hygiene to prevent unnecessary transmission.

Some common protective actions to take include:

  • Not sharing drinks, glasses, or straws
  • Not sharing utensils
  • Cleaning shared surfaces like doorknobs, faucets, countertops, and remote controls

Precautions and Prevention

Herpes simplex virus is common and widespread.

It is not necessarily possible to remove all risk of contracting either strain.

You can minimize the risk of contracting HSV-1 or HSV-2 via sexual contact.

  • Avoid sexual activity with someone who has a known oral or genital herpes outbreak.
  • Use condoms or dental dams when engaging in sexual contact.
  • Do not kiss or share utensils with someone who has an active herpes outbreak.

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When to See a Doctor

If you develop signs of either HSV-1 or HSV-2, such as sores or blisters that form in the mouth, around the mouth, or on or around the genitals, see your medical provider.

Some other sexually transmitted infections can also cause sores, as well as other infections or conditions.

Your healthcare provider can do tests to identify the cause.

While there is no cure for oral or genital herpes, there are OTC and other treatments that may speed the healing time of sores and relieve discomfort.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How likely is it to get herpes from sharing a drink?
While it is technically possible to get any virus from sharing a drink with someone who is infected, the herpes simplex virus is most commonly transmitted via direct contact. The virus can be transmitted from the saliva of an infected person or by direct contact with oral or genital herpes sores.
Can you get herpes from drinking someone's drink?
While it is not impossible to get herpes from a shared drink, it is highly unlikely. Both oral and genital herpes are almost always spread through direct contact with an infected person. Oral herpes is not always spread via sexual contact, but may still be passed from saliva or contact with cold sores.

K Health articles are all written and reviewed by MDs, PhDs, NPs, or PharmDs and are for informational purposes only. This information does not constitute and should not be relied on for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN

Craig Sorkin, DNP, APN is a board certified Family Nurse Practitioner with over 15 years experience. He received his Undergraduate and Graduate degrees from William Paterson University and his doctoral degree from Drexel University. He has spent his career working in the Emergency Room and Primary Care. The last 6 years of his career have been dedicated to the field of digital medicine. He has created departments geared towards this specialized practice as well as written blogs and a book about the topic.