[Question #1769] Genital Herpes or STI from hot wet towel

Avatar photo
85 months ago
Greetings !!
I had an exposure to a person whose STD status I'm not aware of . exposure happened 4 days back (Feb-17-2017)

The women i visited wiped my genitals with hot wet towel and before that she wiped off her gentilas using the same towel . 

She wiped off at my scrotum , penis shaft and mucous membrane of the penis.
Her intention was like to transmit the disease to me , I thought she was using a fresh towel but did not and I realized that after she wiped me . I'msure there were some abrasions on my skin due to scrubbing while bathing.

No penetration or No intercourse . I touched her clit with my finger , no sore or cut in my finger . she also gave me head when I was wearing a condom ( not latex ) I assume.
thats it and I ejaculated in the condom.

After 25 mins I wahed my genitals with warm water and hand soap.

The next day , I started feeling a burning sensation at the tip of penis ( where urine comes thru and the place beneath the penis)

I feel burning sensation , at times even if I do not pee or sometimes feel  the burning  even I'm idle means simply sit at work,home . For now I do not have burning sensation when I pass urine.

I started taking Sulfamethoxazole antibiotic with advil to reduce pain before even I see my doc.

I have given blood work , urine work since I have this burning irritation. 

HSV 1,2 - IgG
Chlamydia , Gonorhea

I see some information on the web,  hsv2 is a fragile virus would not survive well outside the cells . In my case assuming the person having STI , she wiped off my genitals with less than 15 seconds and the survival of virus on damp towel can be prolonged.

I also called the cdc hot line and they were not sure about this mode of transmission through hot wet towel. 

Please provide your suggestions if I might catch herpes 1,2 or any STI for that sake.

Avatar photo
Edward W. Hook M.D.
85 months ago

Welcome to our Forum.  I'll be glad to comment.  While it is conventional wisdom (and common sense) to not share towels in the fashion you describe, and while there may theoretically be a small chance that HSV or other STIs might live a few seconds/minutes on a towel, the fact is that there are not descriptions in the scientific literature where transmission has occurred in this way. There are several reasons for this including not only that the organisms quickly loose their infectivity (before they die they become non-infectious) and the interesting fact that these organisms all tend to "stick" to the fibers of material when they come into contact with cloth or material. 

I see no reason for concern from the contact that you describe and certainly see no reason for testing.  In fact, I would say that testing is a BAD idea and that if you were to have the blood test your chance of having a falsely positive test is considerably higher than your risk of discovering that you were infected.  I hope my comments are helpful.  EWH

Avatar photo
85 months ago
Dr EWH -

Thanks a lot for your prompt response. your response helps me to put my mind at ease.

I got my blood(HSV1,HSV2) and Urine (Chlamydia,Gonorrhea) results ( with just 4 day exposure ) are negative . 
I pretty well know this is not conclusive and have to wait minimum 8 weeks for the confirmatory results but took this tests as precaution.

My questions and concerns below .

1) Since the Herpes 1 & 2 came back negative , Can I assume or rule out the possibility of HSV-2 for my penile burning/irritation sensation ?
2) Hepatitis B also seem to be very contagious in my scenario I mentioned . Wiping the Hepatitis B infected towel on my mucous membrane of my penis or with any minute abrasions susceptible to Hep B infection ? requesting to explain the context of Hep B virus in my scenario .

3) I have been diagnosed by a doctor and have been prescribed with anti-biotic cream to apply on the affected areas ( burning sensation ) in my penis. My physician has also ordered for Hepatitis Panel  .Hepatitis A IgM Antibody ,Hepatitis B Surface Antigen with Reflex to Confirmation ,Hepatitis B Core Antibody (IgM) ,Hepatitis C Antibody with Reflex to HCV, RNA, Qualitative, Real-Time PCRRPR , Chlamydia , Gonorrhea , HIV AG/AB, 4TH GEN ,Urine Analysis ,

The burning/irritation sensation is encountered on my  Frenulum and beneath the foreskin opening  after I urinate , drink lemon juice and wash away the antibiotic cream , apply the cream .

I still have the burning irritation after taking the antibiotic with advil for 4 days now and as well applying the cream for a day now.

4) Doctor suspected the frenulum to be irritated and hence suggested the cream . Can this irritation at Frenulum be a sign of Genital herpes sore or blister prone area ?

Note : 
i) The day after my exposure I started having Sulfamethoxazole antibiotic with Advil to reduce the irritation  but no great help with this medication.
ii) Other symptoms include tender groin and mild tingling on my leg despite being on antibiotic.

Avatar photo
85 months ago
Doctor - Please help me in this regard and would not irritate you by my questions anymore

Some more Information I missed to share that would help you to evaluate my case better.
After the recent encounter with the SEX WORKER in Florida (02/17/2017) , I had developed penile burning severe at night , Sore  throat , consistent pain below my rib cage.

I have been visited many sex workers in my past  and all of them were protected vaginal sex only . 
No oral sex , No anal sex till date .

My last lab work turned negative for all the STDs post 7 months (28 weeks ) exposure and this blood work results are before  my recent exposure on 02/17/2017.

Hep B blood work before my recent exposure :









Hep C blood work before my recent exposure :





Signal to Cut off



My recent exposure was just wiping my penile mucous membrane with the towel sex worker used panics me of catching Herpes 2 , Hepatitis B especially.
Since this is not my only case of exposure to sex worker and My Hep C is around 0.09 and any possibility this might increase of my recent exposure  , Am I susceptible of a Hep B infection ?

Avatar photo
Edward W. Hook M.D.
85 months ago

Please be patient.  We do not staff the Forum 24/7 and do our best to answer in a timely fashion. 

In answer to your initial response to my comments, it appears that you did not hear what I said- there is no realistic risk of getting an STI from a shared towel.  As a result, testing is a waste of time.  I will briefly comment of your statements however.

The results of your urine testing for gonorrhea and chlamydia ARE definitive, believe them. 4 days is plenty of time for tests to give accurate results. 

I recommended against testing for herpes but you did it anyway. the results you have only tell you that you have not acquired herpes in the past.  The results of a herpes blood test (WHICH I RECOMMEND AGAINST) will not accurately reflect infection for up to three or more months after exposure. 

1.  Your blood test results have no bearing on whether or not the sensations you describe were herpes.  If your symptoms were due to herpes, you would see lesions.

2.  Hepatitis B is NOT transmitted by sharing towels in the way you describe.

3.  I cannot comment on what the doctor saw. 

4.  No, possible "irritation of the frenulum" is not suggestive of herpes unless there are visible lesions. If there are visible lesions, they should be tested with culture or PCR, not with a blood tests.

Your sore throat and other symptoms DO NOT suggest STI, including HIV.

Your blood tests show that you have no evidence of having hepatitis B or C.


Avatar photo
85 months ago
Dr Edward Hook -  Thanks a ton for your response.  I strongly wanted to take your advise that STI would not be transmitted in the fashion I described .
I wish to move on but for now my body conditions certainly exhibit symptoms of Hep B or may be any STI.

I'm on an antibiotic (Sulfamethoxazole ) with advil 200 mg along with it the day after my exposure.
I have been undergoing to severe abdomen pain . I thought the pain or stomach upset is because of the intake of antibiotics with no proper food might be reason and stopped taking advil . The moment I stopped taking advil, I started having fever ( 99.8 F) and had to take advil to reduce it .

Urine seems normal color and stool seems to be very loose though . I have been drinking apple juice to for a better immune system.

I'm still expecting my blood and urine work suggested by the doctor ?

My question here is again on Hepatitis here .
1) When the person rubbed hard on my mucous membrane with the infected towel and due to some friction while wiping. can the vaginal semen touched on the tip of my penis , do not put me under risk for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C ? 
2) Assume a person rubbing his penis on the vaginal genitals of women also has a same risk of like having the penis rubbed on an infected towel except the virus becomes less infectious . My Ques here rubbing the penis on the genitals of an infected women has the same risk of wiping towel on the mucous membrane of my penis ?
3) Can a person catch more that one STI at time for example Hep B , Hep C , Genital Herpes , etc etc..

Can you please explain why do you suspect I would have not infected with Hep B ?

Avatar photo
Edward W. Hook M.D.
85 months ago

You do not seem to be appreciating the message I am trying to convey.  Sharing towels is not a known/proven risk for STIs.  if it were, this would be described by now.  Your concerns are unwarranted!.  There is NO reason for you to continue to worry about STI from the exposure you describe.

As for your specific questions:

1. NO!!  This is not a risk factor for hepatitis B or C.

2.  No, without penetration you are not at risk for hepatitis B or C.  Neither of the sorts of exposures you describe place you at risk for hepatitis, HIV, or other STIs.

3.  Yes persons can certainly acquire more than one STI at a time.  That does not change the FACT that the exposure you describe did not put you at known risk for STI.

I have already describe why you are not at risk for hepatitis.  Please carefully re-read my earlier comments.  further, your abdominal pain may well be a result of the unneeded antibiotics that you are taking.  Both sulfamethoxazole and advil are well recognized causes of abdominal pain.

This is my third reply to your questions.  Therefore, as per forum Guidelines, this thread will be closed later today.  I trust that you will not feel the need to start a new post.  Repetitive anxiety-driven questions may be deleted without comment and without return of your payment.  Please try to move on.  you are not at risk for STI from the exposure you have described and continuing to worry will only amplify your unnecessary concerns.  EWH