How Do You Know If You Have Herpes?

Hello Heather,

Okay, so I kissed a boy and a few days later, he got a cold sore. Does that mean I have herpes? Does that mean it will happen again? Please answer.


I can understand why you’re worried – herpes is extremely common, and it’s very easy to pass along. It sounds like you’re worried that this guy gave you herpes. I wish I could give you an exact answer here, but since I’m not your doctor and I don’t know all the details about this, I honestly can’t. But I can try to give the most concise answer possible until you can see your real doctor! So, how do you know if you have herpes?

Let’s chat with another doctor for now. I asked my friend, Dr. Sherry Ross from the site HelloFlo (a monthly period care package you need to check out) for answers. She said: “The herpes simplex virus (HSV, for short) is really common. It’s estimated that 45 million women and men have the virus in the United States.”

That’s a lot! But what else should you know about herpes? Dr. Ross says, “There are 2 kinds of herpes, Type I and Type 2. Herpes Type 1 is oral herpes that appears as a cold sore (also called a fever blister) on the lips, nose, and face. It starts as a blister and then breaks open and starts to ooze. During 7 to 10 days, the ulcer-like sore will crust and scab over. If your partner has an active cold sore on his/her mouth and kisses your mouth or worse, goes down on you, it can be passed onto you.”

However, it’s important to note this fact: someone who has herpes can still pass on the virus even if a sore isn’t present. There are several days when the virus is reactivating, but not showing symptoms. You obviously don’t know when that’s happening, and so if that is what was happening with him, then it is possible that you contracted the virus even if you didn’t notice a cold sore when kissing him.

Worried? Dr. Ross says, “If you have been exposed to Herpes Type 1, it may take up to 20 days for the sores to show up. You may notice a tingling or itching sensation in the area where the sore will develop. Stress, fever, colds, illness, sunburns and, even your period, can trigger herpes type 1 to erupt.”

If you DO end up getting herpes, try not to stress too much. As Dr. Ross points out, “There are medications used to prevent Herpes Type 1 from occurring and can also be used when outbreaks happen.” While herpes can’t be cured at the moment, it can be treated, and that’s better than nothing.

What about that other type of herpes mentioned before? Let Dr. Ross explain: “Type 2 herpes is the form of herpes that originates in the genital area and can be passed through genital to genital contact. If you have a cold sore on your lip (Type 1 HSV) and give your partner oral sex, you can pass Type 1 to the genital area. It’s really important to remember that oral herpes can be transmitted to the genitals during oral sex.”

So what should you do now? Be on the lookout for signs of sores, and if you get one, see a doctor right away. If you’re really freaked out, you can go to a doctor now to see what they say. Good luck!

take care,

What’s on your mind? Heather can help! Send her your question at You can also reach our buddies at HelloFlo with questions about your body or health. Just ask Dr. Flo at HelloFlo!


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