When is it safe to kiss someone after getting a cold?
March 21, 2014 8:51 AM   Subscribe

I've always erred on the side of caution with colds (and flu), and waited until a few days after my symptoms have subsided before engaging in potential illness-spreading activity, e.g. kissing. It's time I found out just how little time I can get away with waiting, for the times that I'm not feeling so patient. What say you, hivemind? When can I kiss someone after getting a cold or flu without putting them at risk for getting my illness?
posted by Mechitar to Health & Fitness (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IANAD, but
1) shaking hands is usually cited as being riskier than kissing, and
2) most general cold and flu bugs are most contagious just before you realize you have them and as they're coming on. the symptoms last much longer.
posted by acm at 8:59 AM on March 21, 2014

My understanding was that the cold virus can't survive in the mouth, and thus with a plain old cold it's fine to kiss someone. Experimentation with an n of just me and my boyfriend has seemingly shown that to be true. But wash your hands!
posted by ldthomps at 9:00 AM on March 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

My understanding is that a common cold stops being contagious three days after symptoms start.

(and unrelated, but good to know if we're talking kissing and disease vectors): If it's a GI bug, your saliva will carry the virus for 24 hours after your last vomiting episode.
posted by magdalemon at 9:02 AM on March 21, 2014

From the NIH website: "People are most contagious for the first 2 to 3 days of a cold. A cold is usually not contagious after the first week."

Regardless, it's probably good to avoid kissing people if you (or they) are all stuffy and snerfly. It may be safe, but it can still feel a little gross.
posted by Metroid Baby at 9:05 AM on March 21, 2014

My rule of thumb is generally if I'm well enough to be interested in kissing after having been sick I'm most likely past the contagious point. But I'll offer informed consent to the kissee.
posted by Candleman at 9:10 AM on March 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

Flu virus is shed in respiratory fluids for about 7 days.
posted by amelioration at 10:30 AM on March 21, 2014

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