Herpes is not hereditary. It’s not passed genetically from parent to child. People get genital or oral herpes from skin-to-skin contact with someone who is shedding the herpes virus (most often through sex.) Herpes is fairly common and usually people are exposed or expose others without realizing it.
If you are a parent who has been diagnosed with herpes or you’re planning to become a parent, let your doctor or obstetrician know that you have herpes. The chances of transmitting herpes to a child during pregnancy or delivery is not common. Informing your provider about your history of herpes is important, as they may have strategies that can reduce the risk even further.
The New Zealand Herpes Foundation has some practical tips about parenting with herpes.
If you have a parent with active facial herpes (when a cold sore is present) avoid direct contact to the area until the sore has disappeared. When a sore is present you may also want to avoid sharing unwashed utensils or other items that have come in direct contact with the sore.