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Can I get an STD during dry humping from someone's skin rubbing on mine?

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Updated May 23, 2014

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Question: Can I get an STD during dry humping from someone's skin rubbing on mine?

Frottage is the technical name for what two people are doing when they rub their bodies against each other for sexual pleasure. It's also known by such colorful terms as "pants burning" and "dry humping." When you engage in frottage while wearing clothing, it is very safe sex. If you take off your clothing, dry humping is still relatively safe, but it is possible to pass on certain diseases that are transmitted by skin-to-skin contact.

Answer: Although frottage is a relatively safe form of sex, it is possible to get an STD during dry humping from someone's infected skin rubbing on yours.

STDs can be broken down into two groups:

  1. Diseases that are spread by bodily fluids -- such as blood, vaginal secretions, and semen.
  2. Diseases that are spread by skin-to-skin contact

HIV, chlamydia, and gonorrhea can only be spread by infected bodily fluids, but there are many other diseases that can be spread by infected skin rubbing on uninfected skin. These diseases include:

These types of diseases can be transmitted with various levels of ease during frottage by someone's infected skin rubbing on yours. However, such diseases require skin-to-skin contact for transmission. That is why frottage while wearing clothing is generally considered to be safe. However, theoretically it is possible for an open sore to seep through fabric and transmit diseases. Therefore, it's a good idea to avoid any contact with sores.

Avoiding dry humping against STD lesions and sores is also a good idea for other reasons. Clothing rubbing on a lesion can irritate it -- risking either a secondary infection or the disease spreading through self-inoculation.

Note: Frottage refers to the act of sexual rubbing. Frotteurism refers to either having unhealthy fantasies about dry humping and similar activities or engaging in non-consensual frottage.

  1. About.com
  2. Health
  3. Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
  4. Risk Factors for STDs
  5. Risky Behaviors
  6. STD/STI Risks of Dry Humping/Skin-To-Skin Contact

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