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WARNING: This Product Contains Nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.
WARNING: This Product Contains Nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive chemical.
Can You Get Herpes from Sharing a Vape?

Can You Get Herpes from Sharing a Vape?

In the world of vaping, a frequently asked question is whether sharing a vape can lead to the transmission of herpes. The straightforward answer is yes, it's possible. Let's dive into the details and understand why sharing vapes isn't the best idea, especially if you're concerned about health risks like herpes and other communicable diseases.

Understanding Herpes: An Overview

Herpes is a very common infection around the world, and it's caused by a germ called the herpes simplex virus. This germ makes painful sores or blisters pop up and go away from time to time, mostly around the mouth and private parts. An important thing to know about herpes is that a lot of people who have this germ don't even know they're infected because it usually doesn't cause big health problems.

Prevalence of Herpes

The prevalence of herpes varies, with about 48% of teenagers and adults under the age of 50 in the United States having herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). This variant is most commonly associated with oral blisters, also known as cold sores. In contrast, about 12% are infected with herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2), which is more frequently linked to genital blisters. Globally, the statistics are even higher, with 67% for HSV-1 and 13% for HSV-2. Given that herpes infections are lifelong, it's probable that a majority of the older adult population worldwide has been exposed to the herpes simplex virus at some point.

Canker Sores vs. Herpes: Understanding the Difference

A common area of confusion is the difference between canker sores and herpes. Canker sores are ulcers that occur inside the mouth, presenting as round, white, or yellow wounds encircled by a red halo. They can appear on the inner lips, cheeks, or tongue. It's crucial to understand that canker sores are not contagious and cannot be passed from one person to another, distinguishing them from herpes sores, which are caused by a virus and can be spread.

Cold Sores: A Manifestation of Herpes

The term "cold sore" refers to oral sores caused by HSV-1, a type of herpes simplex virus. These sores are most commonly found on the outside of the mouth or around the lips, though they can also occur inside the mouth, including on the gums, tongue, or the roof of the mouth. Cold sores are distinguishable from canker sores by their appearance; they typically manifest as clusters of small, fluid-filled blisters. Also known as fever blisters, cold sores are contagious and can be spread through direct contact.

Are All Cold Sores Because of Herpes?

Yes, if you get a cold sore, it's because of the herpes virus. Cold sores are those little, painful blisters you might see around someone's lips. They come from a virus called herpes. So, whenever someone has a cold sore, it's a sign that they have this virus.

The Risk of Sharing Vapes

Sharing vapes might seem harmless or a sign of fun among friends, but it comes with its share of health risks. Here's why:

  • Exposure to Diseases: When you share a vape, you're not just sharing the device but potentially swapping saliva. This can expose you to illnesses like the common cold, flu, COVID-19, mono, meningitis, and notably, herpes.
  • Increased Nicotine Intake: Besides the risk of infection, sharing vapes could mean you're inhaling more nicotine than you're accustomed to, depending on the device or e-liquid strength used by the owner.

The Reality of Cold Sores and Herpes

Herpes, particularly oral herpes (HSV-1), can indeed be transmitted through items that come into contact with the mouth and saliva, such as vapes. Here are some insights:

  • Cold Sores Frequency: The occurrence of cold sores varies; some might get them multiple times a year, while others might see them once or twice in a lifetime.
  • Who Gets Cold Sores: Anyone can be affected by the HSV-1 virus, with many people exposed to it by the age of 5. The likelihood of outbreaks decreases after age 35.
  • Prevalence: More than half of Americans between 14 and 49 have HSV-1, but not everyone shows symptoms. About 20% to 40% of people with the virus will develop cold sores.

Why Sharing Anything Mouth-Related is Risky

Almost anything that comes into contact with the mouth can transmit HSV-1. This includes:

  • Lip balms
  • Eating utensils
  • Cigarettes 
  • Toothbrushes
  • Razors
  • Vape disposables and vape devices

Given that a significant portion of the population carries HSV-1, sharing personal items like vapes can indeed increase the risk of transmission.

Managing and Treating Cold Sores

While there's no cure for oral herpes, treatments aim to heal outbreaks faster and reduce discomfort:

  • OTC Medications: Over-the-counter creams can help if applied at the first sign of an outbreak.
  • Oral Antiviral Medicine: Prescription antivirals can shorten outbreaks and lessen symptoms.
  • IV Antiviral Medicine: In severe cases, IV treatment may be necessary.

How long does it take for cold sores to go away? For most people, cold sores tend to heal within one to two weeks.

A Quick Note from Cleveland Clinic

If you get HSV-1, the virus that causes cold sores, you'll have it forever. Some people might never get a cold sore, but others could get them often. Usually, a cold sore goes away on its own in about two weeks, even though it might be a bit bothersome. If you get a cold sore and you also have a weak immune system or a skin condition like eczema, it's really important to talk to your doctor about what to do.

FAQ: Sharing Vapes and Herpes Risk

Can you really get herpes from sharing a vape? Yes, sharing vapes, including disposables and other devices, can transmit herpes if the person you're sharing with has the virus.

How common are cold sores? Cold sores, caused by HSV-1, are quite common, with over half of the people in certain age groups carrying the virus.

Is it safe to share vapes? For health reasons, it's best not to share vapes. This prevents the spread of viruses and other germs.

Can I prevent getting herpes? Avoiding direct contact with cold sores and not sharing personal items like vapes can reduce your risk.


While vaping might be a less harmful alternative to smoking cigarettes, sharing vapes, including disposable vapes and vape devices, can cause significant health risks, including the transmission of herpes. It's important to maintain personal hygiene and avoid sharing personal items, including vapes, to stay safe and healthy. Remember, when it comes to vaping, keeping it personal is the best policy.

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Author, Josh Kim, Team Member of Eliquidstop

Hello, I'm Joshua. I made the switch from smoking to vaping five years ago, and I've learned a lot along the way. I'm happy to share valuable insights on vaping, the latest news, trends, and much more with you. Welcome to the journey of all things vape! 


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