[Question #1555] Herpes from razors

47 months ago
One daughter was diagnosed with an active herpes outbreak, used a razor about 1 hour before my other daughter used the same razor. Is it possible to transmit herpes this way? Are there any stats on this?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
47 months ago
So your daughter with herpes - is it genital herpes?  And she had been using the razor to shave the genital area and then your other daughter used it to shave her genital area as well? 
We have no statistics on this type of transmission because there are no documented cases that I know of where herpes has been transmitted in this way.  While one might think it is possible to transmit in this way, the odds that the virus, if even present on the razor, would be able to survive outside the body for an hour, are extremely slim indeed.  I don't think at all that transmission would occur here.  And there is nothing that can be done at this point except observe but I don't think your family should have a lot of anxiety about this.

Terri
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47 months ago
Is there an expert in the Raleigh-Durham area you know of that we could take her to? (To reduce her anxiety)
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
47 months ago
The best herpes expert in your area is Dr. Peter Leone.  I don't have his contact information right off hand but he's the best in your area.  You can tell him I referred you and your daughter - we've been colleagues and friends for 30 years.  I know you'll like him.

Terri
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46 months ago
I'd like to follow up, because I have more accurate information this time, but also because our fear has not subsided. Everything posted before is accurate, however, the razor used was the type with the soap attached to it. She started using it an hour afterward, and started shaving her armpit areas first, then made one swipe with the razor down the front of her genital area. Immediately after getting out of the shower, we realized what happened and she got back in and washed herself with soap for about 30 minutes. It has been 18-19 days since she was exposed. Yesterday morning she said it burned a little when she urinated and her period should start in a few days.

I read some things online that really concerned me: First, while many doctors believe that Herpes cannot be spread from razors, the University of Maryland believes it can be. Second, I read that your period can trigger an outbreak. We were feeling a little better after emailing Dr. Leone who said that the weeping blisters will lyse in a detergent like soap and hoped that the soap on the razor along with immediately going back into the shower to wash with soap would kill the virus

It really is unbelievable how much anxiety this has caused. We pray that she doesn't show any signs, but live in fear that she will. I know there is a lot in the paragraphs above, but your answer will be helpful

Thanks
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
46 months ago
I'm so sorry that this continues to be a worry for your family.  But it is great news that it was a razor with soap attached.  The herpes virus is surrounded by a lipid layer - a layer that holds the virus together and keeps it intact.  The job of soap is to destroy lipids, so the fact that there was the soap attached to the razor suggests that any virus that might have been on the razor (and we don't know that there was) was most likely destroyed by the soap, long before your daughter used the razor.  Also, if she was going to develop symptoms of herpes, she would have done so well before now.  The average time from infection so symptoms is 5.5 days, with the range being 2-10 days.  While some women who have herpes do have outbreaks around their periods, it isn't true that the first outbreak would fit with a period - the first outbreak of herpes would be completely independent of the timing of her period.  I think it is extremely unlikely that virus would live in this situation for an hour!  And the fact that she shaved her armpits first also suggests that if there was virus present (which I don't believe for a moment that there was), that it would be rubbed off on her armpits which would not allow virus in because the skin is too thick, compared to genital skin that is far thinner and more vulnerable to infection. 

I know your family is very anxious about this, but I think if you presented this situation to 100 herpes experts (there probably aren't 100 herpes experts), they all would say that this does not present a risk to your daughter.    I'm so glad that you were able to connect with Dr. Leone, he's terrific and smart.

Terri
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