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Can You Contract Oral Herpes from a Lipstick Tester?

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Can You Contract Oral Herpes from a Lipstick Tester?

Can You Contract Oral Herpes from a Lipstick Tester?
November 06
17:27 2017

A lawsuit has been filed by a California woman against a Sephora store in Hollywood, claiming that she contracted oral herpes from a lipstick tester that she tried back in October of 2015. This raises the question of whether or not someone can contract oral herpes from a lipstick tester and what causes oral herpes and how is it generally spread?

Oral herpes is caused by the type 1 herpes simplex virus (HSV-1). I’ve heard many say that oral herpes is the same as genital herpes but that’s not quite accurate. Genital herpes is caused by the type 2 herpes simplex virus (HSV-2). However, about 20% of cases involving oral herpes is caused by HSV-2.

HSV-1 can cause sores in and around the mouth, including the lips, gums, roof of the mouth, tongue and cheeks. The mouth sores are more frequently found in toddlers ages 1-2, but can appear in anyone at any age. The herpes sores most people are familiar which are frequently referred to as cold sores or fever blisters.

Oral herpes can also affect the throat and down the neck. It can cause painful swelling of lymph nodes and in people in their teens and 20s, can cause shallow ulcers in the throat and a grayish coating on the tonsils.

Once infected with the oral herpes virus, it generally goes through three different stages or phases.

Phase 1 if referred to as the primary infection. This is the stage when the virus enters the body, but generally remains asymptomatic, meaning it does not manifest any symptoms.

Phase 2 is the latency stage and sounds scary. The virus travels through the body to the dorsal root ganglion, a group of nervous tissue in the spine. The virus then reproduces and often remains inactive for an indefinite period of time.

Phase 3 is the recurrence stage where the virus becomes active and manifests as the oral sores. All it takes to initiate the active stage is an emotional or physical stress of any kind. Stress at work, home, illness and or basically any other form of stress can cause an outbreak, so if you or someone you know develops a cold sore or fever blister, it is generally a sign of some kind of stress.

The incubation period of oral herpes is general 2-12 days, but averages about 4 days before it can manifest into sores.

So, how does the virus spread and enter a person?

Oral herpes is highly contagious and most people carry the virus but don’t know it. It is spread through contact with an infected person’s saliva, mucous membranes or skin. That saliva can be passed on through a kiss, sneeze, cough, blowing the nose, spitting, and even touching.

Can someone contract oral herpes from sampling a lipstick tester?

According to Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease specialist and senior associate at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in Baltimore says it is possible to contract oral herpes by sampling the lipstick tester, but also says it is not a common source of infection. He believes that there is a high chance that the woman already had the herpes virus in her system before using the lipstick tester. He says that oral herpes is so common and widespread that most people are infected. He also said that the virus would not generally survive for more than a couple of hours on a lipstick tester for only a few hours, but could be longer depending upon the moisture levels, humidity in the store and other environmental factors.

According to the World Health Organization, 67% of people worldwide UNDER the age of 50 are infected with HSV-1.

Oral herpes isn’t the only possible disease that could be contracted by sampling a lipstick tester used by others, so use at your own risk. As for oral herpes, chances are you will get it just from being around other people as Dr. Adalja says it’s just ‘part of the human condition’.

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