[Question #186] Concern.

37 months ago
Hi doctors 

Few days ago I had gone to the dermatologist for an issue with an allergic reaction on my lips. The doctor came in, used Purell and then put on gloves. She examined my lips and when she was done we were talking and I noticed how dirty her lab coat was. She had rims of discoloration around her cuffs. Being hypersensitive I was concerned if there was anyway hsv or anything else could be transferred this way. I don't specifically recall her lab coat touching my lips, honestly didn't pay attention until the discussion after her examination. If her cuffs of the lab jacket had touched me is there a risk for anything? Who knows if and what her coat could have touched before hand. From what I have read on other posts and a former question of mine before that with at least herpes it can't be transferred through clothes and would take a lot more contact and rubbing into the tissue tincture infection? Thank you for your time. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
37 months ago

Welcome to our Forum.  I believe you may have asked a similar question in this Forum in the past as well.  If not, I apologize for my confusion. 

Irrespective, the good news is that herpes viruses, as well as other bacteria and viruses which cause STIs are not transmitted on inanimate objects.  As a rule they tend to be quite fragile and die quickly once exposed to the environment.  Further, with regard to cloth and other fabrics, microorganisms have a tendency to "stick" to fibers and not come off.  While I agree with you that being seen by a clinician with a dirty lab coat is disconcerting and not esthetically pleasing, even if the clinician's coat had brushed up against a site of infection prior to contact with you, it would not be able to transmit infection to you.  Thus the exposure you describe is not a reason for concern from a risk from infection perspective (on the other hand, coming to work with dirty clothes raises other questions, doesn't it.  I would not worry about possible infection however.

I hope you find this comment helpful.  Please feel free to follow-up if this response is not unclear.  EWH

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37 months ago
Thank you for the reassurance. Developed somewhat of an anxiety working in health care over the years. Hypothetical question - since I work in health care sometimes I care for patients and empty urnials etc. what if someone were to knock over a used empty urnial and it hit them in the face/lips and the std status of the patient is unknown? I know far fetched right? Still goes along with your response of don't worry since it's an inanimate object? And from other posts I've read it seems there has to be more than something hitting you in the face with a dirty object to actually acquire herpes or another std? Sorry for the silly concern/question. Rather be educated than wonder. 
36 months ago
Thank you for the reassurance. Developed somewhat of an anxiety working in health care over the years. Hypothetical question - since I work in health care sometimes I care for patients and empty urnials etc. what if someone were to knock over a used empty urnial and it hit them in the face/lips and the std status of the patient is unknown? I know far fetched right? Again just the other day I had moved a over a pair of medical scissors while I was in the NICU because they were left out and I didn't want anyone to get poked. I'm pretty sure I had gloves on and they weren't covered in blood but after the fact would there be any risk of touching something like that with inclosed skin (if gloves weren't used?) Briefly touched the round/handle part of scissors. Still goes along with your response of don't worry since it's an inanimate object? And from other posts I've read it seems there has to be more than something hitting you in the face with a dirty object to actually acquire herpes or another std? Sorry for the silly concern/question. Rather be educated than wonder. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
36 months ago
Glad to comment.  Even if a person's face were to be slashed with urine or come into contact with a contaminated urinal, there would be no risk for infection.  Similarly no risk from the scissors contact you mention.  EWH---
36 months ago
Thank you docotor Hook. I think I have one more allowed follow up question. Again the transmission of hsv. Is it possible to contract HSV through an animal? I was at a party and my friend possibly had a cold sore (could have been pimple on the outside of her lip) but the dog at a party ran up and unexpectedly licked me in the face. Hypothetically - again not sure if the dog licked the friend with a potential cold sore but if the dog had - anything to really be concerned about? I wiped my face immediately. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
36 months ago

The sort of contact you describe with a pet who licked you after possibly licking a friend's cold sore is not a known means of transmission of HSV or other STIs.  I would not worry about your encounter with your friend's pet (although it does sound like the pet could use a bit more training ).  By and large STIs tend to be hard or even impossible to transmit other than by DIRECT sexual contact.  I urge you to do your best not to worry. 

I hope my concerns have been helpful to you. If such theoretical concerns continue to worry you and perhaps impact your work or enjoyment of interchanges with fringes, I would suggest you discuss these concerns with a counselor to get help developing strategies to moderate your concerns.  The world "out there" is just not as dangerous a place as you worry it is.  I say this sincerely and in an effort to help. 

  EWH

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36 months ago
Thank you. Appreciate your time and knowledge. Take care. 
Edward W. Hook M.D.
Edward W. Hook M.D.
36 months ago
Glad to help.  We will now close this thread.  Take care.  EWH---