A 49-year-old male asked:
Can a cold sore result from being with someone that has genital herpes? i was with a woman a few weeks ago who has genital herpes, though she wasn't having an outbreak at the time. coincidentally, this morning for the first time i got what i think is the
2 doctor answers • 2 doctors weighed in
Internal Medicine 21 years experience
Herpes : Herpes is a complicated disease.
Herpes simplex 1 (hsv-1) is the virus that typically causes cold sores. Most adults have antibodies to hsv-1, which means that they have been exposed and likely have the virus laying dormant in the nerve cells where they were infected. Some of these people will get cold sores (aka fever blisters) some won't. Some will get recurrent outbreaks regularly and others won't.
Herpes simplex 2 (hsv-2) is the virus that typically causes genital lesions. A slightly lower percentage, but still around 20-40%, of adults have antibodies to hsv-2, and it acts the same way on the genitals as hsv-1.
One can still get a cold sore from hsv-2 and genital lesions from hsv-1. However, when this occurs, repeat outbreaks are much less likely, because hsv-1 has evolved to prefer infecting human mouths, and hsv-2 has a predilection for human genitalia.
Some things to remember here:
1. One can have herpes (1 or 2) and shed virus (meaning transmit the infection to others) without ever having any overt symptoms himself.
2. Herpes infection (particularly type 2) can increase one's risk for acquiring hiv, even if one never has an outbreak or other signs of infection.
3. Herpes infection is incredibly common, and for many infected people, it's not something they even realize they have, or they'll have one outbreak and never have any issues with it again.
4. People vary widely in their response to herpes infection. A person can be infected without knowing it, and transmit it to a sexual partner who will then go on to have severe recurrent blistering outbreaks, which can be very painful.
5. Most authorities, like the United States preventive medicine task force, recommend against the routine testing for herpes virus antibodies in people without symptoms of herpes. So many people have these antibodies, and they likely have asymptomatic infections that don't require treatment, so testing them wouldn't change anything. When someone is entering into a long-term monogamous relationship and wants to start having unprotected sex, that is one possible reason to do antibody testing for herpes, but even that is controversial.
6. Any skin lesion that persists for more than a few days or is troubling to you, should be evaluated by a physician. It may look like the pictures of herpes on the internet, but who took those pictures?
5.3k viewsAnswered >2 years ago
Infectious Disease 54 years experience
No risk, no worry: If you performed oral sex on this person, it is possible you acquired oral herpes. Otherwise no chance at all. Most oral herpes in adults is acquired by kissing somone who also has oral herpes. Your question was cut off before the details of your symptoms, but if you have oral area sores or a severe sore throat or think you might have had an oral exposure to HSV, see a doctor. Good luck!
361 viewsAnswered >2 years ago
Last updated Mar 20, 2018
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