[Question #3443] Chapstick

37 months ago
This is kind of a stupid question, but I suffer from anxiety and ocd about my health.

I had a thing of chapstick that I dropped on a concrete floor at work, I picked it up and put back in my pocket planning to throw it away when I got near a trash can. Stupidly, I forgot to throw it away and applied to my lips where I had a spot where I peeled some dry skin off. My main concern is getting HSV1, how I would get it off the floor idk but my mind won’t stop playing the possibility.  Is there anything I should be worried about catching?

Also, I have a fear of contracting HSV1 I see so much conflicting information on how herpes rarely causes symptoms when newly infected and then I’ve seen statements that say when you are truly negative that you would likely have symptoms? Can any of you please shed some light from this. What are the chances of contracting genital hsv1 through a one time act of unprotected oral sex with a person who denies having cold sores?

Sorry to bombard with questions, I wish that this health anxiety didn’t leave me in such fear! 
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
37 months ago
I'm sorry this is worrying you.  There is just no reason at all to be concerned about getting HSV from the chapstick.  None.  First, I cannot imagine any scenario where HSV 1 would be on a concrete floor at someone's work place.  Second, the virus simply could not live there as it is cold and there are no human cells to live in.  So stop worrying about this.

In terms of transmission of HSV via oral sex.  A one time encounter, by itself, suggests very little risk of acquiring something.  It is not impossible but very unlikely.  If a person is truly uninfected with either HSV 1 or HSV 2 they are more likely to present with symptoms if they acquire new infection.  However, the problem seems to be that people are missing infections for a few reasons:  1) they attribute their symptoms to something else - for women, perhaps a yeast infection or a UTI.  For men, perhaps they think they have a bug bit or they got their penis caught in their zipper 2) symptoms can be quite subtle and people might be looking for something dramatic.  3) subsequent outbreaks could show up in areas people aren't expecting so for genital infection outbreaks could be on the buttocks or thigh or belly or anus and for oral herpes, on the chin or in the nares.  And some people really just don't have symptoms when they get infected but that is less likely, especially if someone is looking very carefully, which I suspect, given what you've said, that you would be. 

Terri
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37 months ago
I am starting to realize that there is no chance of getting HSV1 from the floor and your response helps reassure me farther! So thank you! 

When you say symptoms are more subtle can you elaborate a little more for me? Like I know that genital HSV can be presented as cuts, could this a subtle symptom that your talking about for a primary outbreak or is that more of a recurrence symptom? I am truly negative, my anxiety about both types have led me to get a Western Blot before. Would these subtle symptoms still look more like blisters and ulcers just not as severe as some would think? 
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
37 months ago
Yes, I think they would.  Some people are looking for multiple blisters that are incredibly painful but even new herpes could be just a few blisters or sores - not as dramatic as one might see in pictures online. 

But you?  You would notice symptoms.

Terri
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37 months ago
Thank you for the clarification. So from what I gather blisters or sores, which may not be severe,  would most likely be present for a primary outbreak and would t typically look like cuts or something else for a primary outbreak, correct? 
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
37 months ago
yes. 
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