Your health care provider may recommend some guidelines to help prevent contracting oral or genital herpes or spreading the virus to others. Prevention can be difficult because the virus can be spread to others even when the infected person has no obvious symptoms or lesions.
Herpes simplex type 1 (HSV-1) (oral herpes)
Avoid direct contact with cold sores or other herpes lesions
Wash items such as utensils in hot (preferably boiling) water before re-use
Do not share items with an infected person, especially when herpes lesions are active
Avoid precipitating causes (especially sun exposure) if prone to oral herpes
Avoid performing oral sex when active herpes lesions are on or near your mouth, and avoid passive oral sex with someone who has active oral or genital herpes lesions
Condoms can help reduce, but do not entirely eliminate, the risk of transmission via oral or genital sex with an infected person.
Herpes simplex type 2 (HSV-2) (genital herpes)
Correct and consistent use of condoms is the best protection against acquiring genital herpes when sexually active
Use of latex condoms. Animal membrane condoms should be avoided, since the virus can penetrate them. The female condom has been tested and shown to successfully reduce transmission risk as well.
Recent data show that using an antiherpes agent, such as valacyclovir, can help prevent the transmission of the virus to others
Individuals with genital herpes should avoid sexual contact when active lesions are present
In addition, individuals with known genital herpes, but without current symptoms, should inform their partner that they have the disease. This precaution allows both parties to use barrier protection to prevent the spread of the illness.
Pregnant women with the herpes simplex infection should receive weekly viral cultures of the cervix and external genitalia as the delivery date approaches. If the viral culture is positive for herpes, or active lesions are present at delivery, a cesarean delivery is recommended to avoid infecting the newborn.