[Question #3348] Scab under fingernail

38 months ago
Dear Experts

I have received a package today. When I was taking it from the deliver man, my findernail accidently scratched him a little and a piece of his scab got under my finger nail. As I was washing my hand, a little black flake of it got quite deep under my nail, but i got it with a manicure spatula. Was I at risk of HIV /HEP or other blood diseases from this incident? Assuming he is positive (which I know unlikely, but lets please assume he is) I am worried because I am looking after my sick mother (melanoma) and i am afraid to get sick so there is no one to help her. Please advice, I am anxious. Thank you
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
H. Hunter Handsfield, MD
38 months ago
Welcome to the forum. Thanks for your question.

There is absolutely no risk from this event for HIV, viral hepatitis, or any other blood borne infection from this event. The term "blood borne" and warnings about blood exposure as a risk sometimes make it seem that any blood exposure, no matter how minor, carries some risk. It does not. Substantial exposure is required, usually meaning direct sharing of sharp instruments contaminated with blood (as in shared drug injection needles), or by direct exposure of a bleeding cut to an infected person's wet blood -- e.g. the sort of thing that might happen if you had a fresh cut on your hand whle helping a seriously injured and bleeding person after an auto accident. In addition, I agree there is no reason to suppose the delivery person has any of these infections. So you needn't be worried at all and I recommend against testing for anything.

I hope this information is helpful. Let me know if anything isn't clear.

HHH, MD

---
38 months ago
Thank you very much, Dr Handsfield!