If you have the herpes simplex virus, it’ll be with you for the remainder of your life. There is (currently) no cure. But, the probability of drool triggering a cold sore outbreak is extremely low. The likelihood of spreading HSV-1 via a saliva-infected pillow, for example, is also small.
Although unlikely, coming into contact with your own saliva (or that of another person), if it happens almost instantaneously, can be problematic in certain circumstances. To correctly address your concerns, you’ll need a general understanding of cold sores (and why they occur). Understanding the difference between viral exposure and viral transmission is also incredibly important.
We will explain more about the causes of sleep time drooling and how this can be controlled (or even prevented). You will also learn about HSV-1 infected saliva and how long it can survive outside of the human body. Finally, we’ll explore the potential risks that mouth secretions can pose to yourself (infecting other facial areas and the fingers), as well as your partner.
Table of Contents:
Drooling, also known as sialorrhea, can occur during sleep for a host of reasons. While some can be serious, most drooling is caused by improper posture during sleep or a minor sinus ailment. Drooling, in terms of the physical manifestation, is caused by a saliva build up that is not swallowed. When your throat fails to engage the swallow reflex, the saliva drips out of your mouth.
Issues that are not resolved will continue to result in drooling and general mouth concerns.
Noted below are some of the more problematic causes of increased saliva and sleep time drooling:
Although other conditions can conceivably cause drooling, the issues (above) are among the most serious. However, as previously noted, excessive saliva and drooling are often caused by poor sleep posture and lack of a proper swallowing trigger.
Relaxed muscles are often to blame for the lack of swallowing during a sleep state. While these are not major health concerns, the routine of waking up to a damp pillow is probably not ideal.
Medical research suggests that HSV-1 does not survive outside of the body for long. Many experts believe that the virus dies within 10 seconds under traditional environmental conditions. HSV-1 may have a longer life in warm and damp environments, but not for much longer.
HSV-1 infected saliva is unlikely to be a cause of transmission as there is a big difference between viral existence and transfer. Just touching the infected drool will not transfer the virus. The drool must have an avenue to enter the body before transmission has the chance to occur.
Although drool has an inherent difficulty sustaining life outside of the body, a form of self-contamination can occur. This is typically the result of touching the saliva inside of your mouth or manipulating an active cold sore with your fingers.
What transpires after such events have occurred is known as autoinoculation. Cold sores on the fingers (herpetic whitlow), near the eyes, cheeks, chin, and various other parts of the body is the result.
While this experience is rare due to the development of antibodies to combat such an issue, it can happen. It’s more likely if you are in the midst of a primary cold sore outbreak because your immune system is yet to know how to respond correctly.
While the act of drooling could be to blame, it’s the touching that is the primary issue. The importance of protecting yourself and others cannot be understated.
While the odds of getting HSV-1 from the pillow of your partner is unlikely, the sharing of pillows and bedding is not wise. Just for general health purposes, you should always be as sanitary as possible. If your partner has an active cold sore, you should never use his or her pillow.
While actions such as these are not an indictment of your partner, sharing is not a healthy decision. You should always look out for yourself and trust that your partner is also looking out for you. Why take a risk when you can easily avoid it?
Look at the big picture. Most cold sores come and go within two weeks. If appropriately treated with a good cold sore medicine, they can be a thing of the past within days. Because outbreak periods are relatively short, there is no need to act irresponsibly and risk viral transmission.
Because poor posture and the reflex swallowing mechanism is most often to blame for sleep time drooling, the issue can be fixed with relative ease. While the fix will not apply to every case, it will likely apply to most if there is not an underlying medical condition involved.
Some people are at a much higher risk of drooling during sleep than others. For example, those who mouth breath or sleep on their sides. Fortunately, these issues can be rectified.
There are a few ways you may be able to eliminate your drooling problem:
If you are concerned that your drooling could be a sign of a serious condition, talk with your physician. The last thing you want is a severe medical issue on your hands. It is undoubtedly better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.
Staying vigilant is important. While the odds of getting HSV-1 from drool are small, you still need to be careful. That includes adjusting your physical sleep position if required.
Cold sores occur because of a highly contagious virus, but there is no need to chase your tail in fear. There are established ways that people acquire HSV-1. Medical science has said as much. However, outside of those facts, most everything else is based on nearly impossible odds, unlikely scenarios, and general untruths.
Whether you have HSV-1 or are concerned about contracting herpes, the only tools you need are found in basic familiarity with the virus.