How does oral herpes spread?

Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is spread through saliva or blisters on the skin during an oral herpes outbreak.

Most people first contract HSV-1 when they’re very young, usually by skin-to-skin contact with an adult spreading the virus. The virus can spread in various ways: through kissing, or by sharing objects like toothbrushes, water bottles, drinking glasses and cutlery.

Read tips on how to avoid the spread

If you think you might have herpes labialis but are unsure, please speak to your GP or pharmacist. They can identify whether it’s likely that you are experiencing cold sores through signs, symptoms and your medical history.