Condoms and Herpesby Amy Hendel, P.A. Health Writer
Numerous questions come up regarding herpes and safe sex, and specifically use of condoms.
Here's a quick rundown on the dos and don'ts:
Many people with herpes are asymptomatic and don't even know that they have it, so your rule should be to always use a condom with a new or current partner. Latex condoms are the best. Add a spermicidal to increase the effectiveness and protection.
If you have herpes and experience genital pain, assume an outbreak is imminent and refrain from having sex (or if this applies to your partner, do not have sex with them).
Do not have oral or traditional sex in the presence of lesions -- a condom is not sufficient protection. Be aware that if the active virus is present outside the area covered by the condom, herpes can be transmitted.
If you are allergic to latex condoms, using lambskin condoms is not equivalent protection. Using a spermicidal can increase the effectiveness, but it is not as effective as the latex condom. Talk to your doctor or a health professional if faced with this situation.
Do not kiss anyone with frank lesions on the face.
If you decide to have oral sex, a dental dam should be used to protect against the transmission of herpes.
Herpes can be transmitted by sweat, saliva, and vaginal fluids.
If you have herpes and touch the lesions, you can technically infect another person with your hands if you touch mucosal tissue.
Always wash hands with very warm water and soap.
Never use saliva to moisten hard contact lenses if you have oral herpes. Wash your hands with soapy hot water before handling contact lenses.
Remember that herpes can be transmitted even if no lesions are present.
Finally it's important to note that if you have herpes, you are at increased risk of HIV/AIDS if you are exposed.