ZocdocAnswersCan children get herpes simplex 1 by sharing cups?

Question

Can children get herpes simplex 1 by sharing cups?

My wife worries constantly about our 5 yr old sharing cups and plates with other kids, saying that he's at risk for getting herpes simplex 1 from them. I'm thinking this is just anxious parent paranoia. Even if there is a risk, it has to be so common that there's no way to avoid it. Right?

Answer

In this case, you and your wife are both partially right. Let me explain. Herpes Simplex Virus 1 is the most common type of herpes labialis or (also known as cold sores), although Herpes Simplex Virus 2 can also be a culprit. It is spread through oral secretions through sharing utensils, kissing, oral sex, or any other way you can think of that involves sharing saliva. Spreading the virus typically occurs when there are ulcers. Usually transmission is less likely when patient are not showing any signs of the infection. While I fully support trying to keep kids from sharing cups and plates, ultimately it will be very difficult for you to completely protect your kids from contracting HSV1. Keep trying to teach them good hygiene techniques such as washing hands regularly and it will pay dividends in the long run. Just don't bet on winning every battle. If your child develops any blister or lesion of any type around the mouth or lips with or without a fever, take him or her to the pediatrician right away. Although there is no cure for the virus, you may be able to get a prescription for a medicine that will reduce the duration and severity of the outbreaks. I hope this helps settle your dispute.

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