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Dating With Cold Sores: A 7-Step Guide To Stay Out of Trouble

dating with cold sores


The dating game provokes plenty of anxiety all on its own. But dating with cold sores on your mouth can step up the apprehension to a whole new level.

If you're wondering how to deal with the challenges of dating with cold sores, look no further.

7 Tips for Dating With Cold Sores

Cold sore sufferers know the truth: a cold sore always pops up at the most inconvenient time. But what should you do when that tingling feeling begins the morning before a date you've really been looking forward to?

Don't panic. Here are seven tips to help you navigate dating with a cold sore and avoid spreading a cold sore to your date.

dating with cold sores

1. Understand the Stigma

Cold sores, also known as oral herpes, are caused by a type of herpes virus called herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). Unfortunately, the stigma surrounding herpes is strong.

Psychologists theorize that this stigma exists in part because herpes has no cure. Additionally, people easily confuse HSV-1 with HSV-2. HSV-2 causes genital herpes and is classified as a sexually transmitted infection. This stigma continues despite the fact that two-thirds of the world's population under age 50 has HSV-1.

The social stigma surrounding herpes can leave you feeling anxious about talking to the person you're dating about your cold sores. But realize that they're less likely to be fearful of herpes if they get the facts about the virus.


2. Know When It's Safe To Kiss

One of the main anxieties that comes while dating with cold sores is wondering whether you can spread your HSV-1 infection to your date.

Kissing and oral sex are two of the most common ways HSV 1 & 2 spreads from person to person. Unfortunately, oral herpes can spread even when cold sores aren't present. This is due to a phenomenon called asymptomatic shedding.

This doesn't mean you can never kiss again. HSV-1 spreads much more easily during an active outbreak, so you shouldn't pucker up until the skin around your mouth looks completely healthy again. You can also take steps to prevent cold sores from forming in the first place if you know you have a night out coming up:

So while you should refrain from kissing when you have a cold sore, you can take steps to create the safest environment possible for a smooch.

3. Be Cautious About Sharing Drinks

HSV-1 spreads mainly through oral-to-oral contact, but because the virus exists in saliva, it can spread in a few other ways as well. If you're in the middle or at the tail end of a cold sore outbreak, use caution when you share drinks, straws or utensils on a date.

Although the risk of someone contracting herpes from a shared drink or straw is lower, it's best to err on the side of caution and avoid sharing until after your cold sore outbreak is over.

4. Observe Proper Hygiene Habits

While there's little evidence that HSV-1 can survive long outside the human body, it's still best to take proper hygiene measures.

For example, be sure to wash your hands with soap and water before and after you touch a cold sore. This minimizes the likelihood of spreading your HSV-1 further.

5. Know How To Talk to Your Date About Cold Sores

Cold sores are less serious and more common than genital herpes. In fact, since 66% of the population has HSV-1, odds are good that your date has also experienced cold sores from time to time too!

You are under no obligation to discuss your personal health concerns with your date, particularly before you kiss them. But if you'd like to share your herpes diagnosis, you can make the facts clear. You can let them know, for example, that you cannot get genital herpes simply from kissing someone with HSV-1.

6. Learn How To Treat Cold Sores Fast

When you feel the tingling of a new cold sore in the morning before a date, you don't have to cancel your plans! You can learn how to treat your cold sores as fast as possible. If you spring into action right away, you'll likely be able to shorten the outbreak.

Cold compresses and ibuprofen can be used to minimize swelling. Get lots of rest, eat nutritious foods, and stay hydrated. Red light therapy can also significantly shorten the duration of an outbreak.

7. Makeup Can Hide the Worst of It

If you develop a cold sore that just won't go away and want to go ahead with your date, all is not lost. While you may not be able to conceal the entire cold sore from view, makeup can work wonders to hide the worst of the visible signs.

You'll want to refrain from applying a beauty product to an open sore, but by the time the sore starts to scab over, you can use lipstick, concealer and foundation to hide it from view.

Be sure to use disposable cosmetic applicators to avoid transferring the virus to a different area of your body.


Cold Sores Don't Have To Control Your Love Life

Dating causes enough stress. Don't let HSV-1 add to your anxiety.

A few small changes to your routine can make all the difference. By following these seven tips, you can minimize the time a cold sore sticks around and sometimes even prevent an outbreak from occurring in the first place. With the right preparation and tools, you can have a normal dating life.

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