Can Cold Sores Spread Through Pillows?

October 7, 2022
3 min read

There is a virus called herpes simplex that causes cold sores, which are spread through contact with infected saliva or skin. Pillows can become contaminated with the virus if they come into contact with infected saliva or skin. Still, it is not a very effective method of spreading it. Some unreliable sources also claim that it can be spread through objects like utensils, towels, lipsticks, plates, etc. But experts have completely denied all these claims.


What causes cold sores?

There are various reasons that can cause cold sores. Some of the most common causes include viral infections, stress, and hormonal changes. The exact reason why you get cold sores varies from person to person. It could be because your body has an immune system deficiency or because you’re exposed to certain viruses more often than others.

Tingling or burning sensations around the mouth are usually the first signs of cold sores. Then, small blisters will form and eventually break open, leaving behind a painful sore. In most cases, the sore will heal on its own in a few weeks. However, some people are more susceptible to cold sores, which can be quite bothersome.

Is a Cold Sore Contagious?


Cold sores are contagious if you get in direct skin contact with someone whose blisters are visible or right after the blisters have burst. The most infectious elements of a cold sore are the fluids that come out of the blisters.

The virus which is responsible for cold sores is called HSV-1. This virus is contagious by nature. But this should not worry you much. Because even if the virus enters your skin somehow, it does not mean you will definitely have cold sores.

Also, cold sores are often healed by themselves within 7-10 days. In some cases, it might take 15 days maximum.

How Long Does the Cold Sore Virus Live on Surfaces?

Studies have shown that the HSV-1 virus can survive on dry surfaces, such as paper, cardboard, and metal, for up to four hours. It can also survive on moist surfaces, such as the skin, for up to eight hours. However, viruses cannot live for a long time on inanimate objects.

This means that if a person with a cold sore uses a towel and you use the towel almost immediately, you can pick up the virus. So keep yourself clean if you have a cold sore to prevent the virus from spreading.

Is it Safe to Share Pillows and Bed Linen?

Yes, it is safe but not recommended. As we have already discussed, the HSV virus cannot live long on inanimate objects. Even if your bedding elements get the virus somehow, they are purified naturally after a few hours.

As a precaution, you might want to change the pillows or bed sheets after it is used by anyone with cold sores.

How Often Should You Wash Your Bedding if You Have Cold Sores?

The answer depends on a few factors, including how often you get cold sores and how severe they are.

If you experience cold sores frequently, you may want to wash your bedding once a week. If you only get them occasionally, you can probably get away with washing your bedding every two weeks. Your bedding may need to be cleaned more frequently if your cold sores are particularly severe.

In general, it’s a good practice to wash your bedding at least once every two weeks, even if you don’t have cold sores. This will help to keep your bedding clean and free of germs.


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