[Question #559] Scared about herpes :(

39 months ago

I am a male age 27. 5 weeks ago I had condom-protected intercourse with a female stranger. 2 or 3 days later I noticed a tingling in my groin, legs and buttocks. I then developed three small blisters (two on one side of my thigh, and one on the other) - with a yellow top and clear fluid when they burst. My general practitioner doctor in Australia  was not sure if it was herpes, and swabbed the top of these blisters. The PCR HSV1 and 2 tests were negative. The Dr did two successive further swabs on the site/dried blisters - again PCR  HSV 1 and 2 results were negative.  A few more sores appeared at the same site then disappeared within days - I did not get these swabbed. Following this (about 3 weeks after the date of possible infection), I had an iGG blood test – this was negative for HSV1, 2. The Dr advised me that based on the tests it was unlikely I had herpes (despite tingling, sores etc). About 2 weeks ago, further small sores (spaced quite a distance apart) appeared on my buttocks and upper thighs, accompanied by tingling in my legs and buttocks. A different Dr opened one of the blisters on my backside and swabbed it. Again, PCR test HSV 1, 2 was negative. I have continued to have neurological tingling in my groin and buttocks and upper thighs. And just yesterday (5 weeks after possible initial infection), another small sore has appeared at the exact site of the initial sores at the top of my thighs. I am very scared. My girlfriend and I had intercourse once a couple of days ago (when there were no sores present) but not any other time.   My questions A) is it possible to have herpes symptoms like I have, but repeated negative PCR DNA tests? B) if I take an anti-viral medication, will it affect the accuracy of a future iGG blood test? (I know that the blood tests will be more accurate if done 3 to 6 months after the date of possible infection). C) Is there a risk of infection to my partner just by cuddling in bed (both wearing underpants)?


Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
39 months ago
Hi Bob,
I can tell that this situation has you really worried.  But I don't think you do need to be worried.  In my 33 years of experience specializing in genital herpes infections, I do not see the presentation that you describe  - isolated lesions on the thighs and  buttocks with a yellow top that are scattered around.  Good that you had one swabbed using PCR - what you got out of that was both a professional opinion that they didn't look like herpes and ALSO a negative very sensitive swab test.   And this you had repeatedly.  AND a negative IgG test, although it was done too soon after exposure to be reliable.  Sometimes people forget that when they have close body contact with someone, such as you have with intercourse, that you are exposed to bacteria on their skin that is not technically a sexually transmitted infection but is sort of a body to body transmitted infection.  Some people have a kind of staph colonization that others don't have, for example.  It doesn't bother the person who has it normally but it could disrupt the skin of the person who doesn't have it normally.  This is what this sounds like more to me than herpes, by far. 

While it is possible to have repeated symptoms that are herpes and are PCR negative, I think that is very unlikely  And yes, herpes medicine taken early in infection CAN impact future testing, for sure.  There is no risk of transmitted herpes  to your partner through cuddling with underwear, no, none at all.

Terri
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38 months ago
Hi Terri,

Thanks for replying - I appreciate your opinion.

Worryingly, I had some more, closely grouped, small lesions appear at the same place as one of my initial outbreaks. This really concerned me. I went to a separate doctor to get tests. This doctor did an alcohol swab of the area to (the doctor said) remove any existing bacteria on the site. The doctor then unroofed a lesion, and took swabs that were sent away for bacteriological, herpes culture and herpes PCR. Thankfully, all of the tests again came back negative. But reading on the internet, I see that it advises against a pre-swab of the area with alcohol. Do you think the alcohol swab means that my test results are unreliable?
My symptoms have all since subsided - but I am really concerned that my latest round of test results might be inaccurate :(

Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
38 months ago
It does not seem like a great idea at all to swab the area first with alcohol - agreed.  But at 27 weeks post exposure, if you had herpes, I would think you would very likely have a positive HSV 2 test.  As you may know the HSV 1 test misses one of four infections under the best of situations anyway. 

Terri
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