[Question #2322] HSV indirect transmission?

44 months ago
My friend had a cold sore on his lip. He looked like he brushed it with his hand and then right after he grabbed my sunglasses and handed them to me and then I handled them and then put them on my head (I had a hat on). I don't think I had any cuts on my hand, although it's possible as I often get dry hands. Is it possible that HSV was transmitted in this scenario? I know you can't get from inanimate objects, but I'm not sure if our hands touched or not either... looking for peace of mind here as I get anxiety about these sort of things.

Thank you!




Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
44 months ago
This is not a method of transmitting herpes - not at all.  You can put your mind completely at rest about this encounter with your friend.  Zero risk

Terri
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44 months ago
Hi Terri,

Thank you for the quick, clear and concise response.

My follow-up is related in regard to indirect transmission. What about sweat? I was recently at a seminar for work and a co-worker was in my seat, got up and then I sat down in the same seat after and I felt sweat on my back/butt. I was wearing pants and a shirt. Now, I don't know this person's medical records or anything, but I know a lot of people worry about similar situations on public transportation/the gym/etc., so I figured I'd use my follow-up question on something I think a lot of people may like to see the answer to.  Is this a scenario where transmission would occur if the person were having symptoms? 

Thanks again!
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
44 months ago
I'm so pleased that you are using our forum to get accurate information about transmission of herpes.
Sweat on a seat from another person is also zero risk.  The virus does not go through clothing, transported via sweat.  Even if the person was stark naked and sat on a seat and you came along stark naked and sat on the same seat, that is not a method of transmission as there is not enough virus present, it will rapidly die off the body, and the method of rubbing it well into the genital just isn't there. 

Does that help?

Terri
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43 months ago
Hello again,

Thanks for the information. 

My last follow up is with regard to towels. I've seen on here that while there are no cases of transmission via towels, you still recommend to not share towels. Why is that? If the virus doesn't survive outside of living skin cells, why would towels be a potential risk? Also, do you mean sharing bath towels IMMEDIATELY after a shower (meaning someone dries off then the next person immediately does) or do you mean like hand towels, kitchen towels, etc? For example, someone with a sore wipes their face with the hand towel after brushing, then I come in and use the same towel to dry my hands. Is this a risk? I know that I am being very OCD, but I guess I just don't understand the recommendation based on everything I know.

If the answer is no, could you explain why? From what I can gather, the virus would not be present enough for transmission and it also dies very quickly anyway. Is it safe to move forward knowing that inanimate objects are not a risk? The whole towel recommendation just throws me off.

Any clarity would be helpful. Thanks.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
43 months ago
Yes, if a person with genital herpes uses a bath towel to dry their genitals and another person uses it immediately after that to dry their genitals or wipe their face and mouth, there is a conceptual risk of acquiring HSV, but only a conceptual risk.  this does not apply really to hand towels that are not used to dry the genitals.   hope that helps!

Terri
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