[Question #1914] Herpetic Whitlow from food crumbs

53 months ago
Hello,

I have oral hsv1 and I currently have an active cold sore on my lips. I was eating some food and noticed that some crumbs from the food I was eating were falling onto the table. I brushed the crumbs with my hand into the garbage. However I noticed that there was a cut on my hand that I used to brush the crumbs. I am wondering if the herpes virus could have transferred from my lip to the crumbs which then fell onto the table and then to my hand which has the cut? Should I be worried about autoinoculating myself and contracting Whitlow on my hand? Is there any prophylactic measures I can take if autoinoculation  is possible this way?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
53 months ago
No, this is not a possibility so you can stop being concerned about this.  Not at all.  You don't need to do anything about this situation. 
Also, once you have herpes in one location on your body, it is extremely unlikely that you would acquire it in a new location on your body. 
I appreciate you using our forum to get your herpes questions answered - do you have any others I can help with?

Terri
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53 months ago
How likely is it in general that I will pass the virus from the cold sores I get on my lip to another person or to myself? I guess a better question is how careful do I have to be? For example I was eating a salad from a disposable container while experiencing an active cold sore. After I finished eating, I threw the disposable container into the garbage. However, I must have thrown it into the wrong garbage because a person saw me throw the container into the garbage and they went and picked it out telling me that the container could be recycled. Subsequently, they threw it into the proper recycling disposal. I immediately became concerned that there could be some active virus on the container from my cold sore and that by picking the container out of the garbage the person could have come into contact with the virus and may now be infected. I know this story seems a little odd, but could this possibly happen?
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
53 months ago
The kind of contact that you need to avoid when you have a cold sore are direct contact with another person's mouth or genitals.  You should also avoid sharing lipsticks or lip gloss with another person.  The situation that you describe with the food container poses ZERO risk to anyone.  The virus is no where near as "spreadable" as you appear to think.  It needs person to person contact, directly to a mucous membrane that allow the virus in.  I'm so glad you sought out the forum to get correct herpes information.

Terri
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53 months ago
Okay, so I have two situations that are particularly bothering me at the moment.

1. If I have a cold sore on my lips, and I take a shower and after showering use a towel to dry off. If I dry my face with the towel (coming into contact with the cold sore) and then dry off the rest of my body can the virus infect another part of my body ( the part that I am most concerned of is the genital area)? Secondly, if I have a cut on my hand let's say and after drying my face with the cold sore using the towel and then drying my hands with the cut, using the same towel, is the virus able to be transmitted from the towel to the cut on my hands?

2. If I have a cold sore on my lips and drink from a reusable water bottle can I transfer the virus if I touch the part of the water bottle with my hands that the cold sore touched while drinking? Again lets say I have a cut on my hands. Can the virus from the bottle where my lips and cold sore touched get into the cut and cause Whitlow? Also if I touch the part of the bottle that the cold sore from my lips touched while drinking with my hands and then touch something like a doorknob can I infect another person  if they then touch that doorknob?

From your last post I'm going to assume that the answer to these situations is that it is not possible for the virus to be transmitted in these ways. I just want to be sure.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
53 months ago
1.  It is very unlikely that you would get herpes on another part of your body once you have it orally - even if you really rub the cold sore and then rub other places on your body.  If you have this as a concern, I would suggest being careful to to touch the cold sore with the towel  you are using to dry the rest of your body.  But again, moving this to a new location is extremely unlikely

2.  The some principal applies to this situation except transmission via an inanimate object has not been documented ever as far as I know - to yourself or to anyone else.  The doorknob question is also no way.

It's OK to want to be sure!  I'm glad we are here to help answer your questions.

Terri
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