[Question #6120] Oral HSV - 1 or 2?

19 months ago
I've been married to someone with HSV-1 for 20 years. (She's had cold sores on her lip a few times a year since she was a child.) Until recently, I never had any sores or symptoms.

Last year, I kissed a different person. There was no other contact of any kind. Three days later, I had aggressive blisters on the roof of my mouth. Since then, the blisters have broken out in different places around the roof of my mouth every 8 weeks or so. Occasionally more frequently than that.

Given that I've had regular exposure to HSV-1 for the past 20 years, I'm confused as to why the encounter from last summer would have resulted in my first symptoms, and am concerned that I contracted HSV-2 instead. I plan to have the swab test done as soon as the blisters appear next, but needed to reach out sooner, as this is causing me a great deal of stress. Given that I've had decades of exposure to HSV-1, how could this be what is causing the blisters with such great frequency?

Most of all, I'm worried about passing whatever I have to my wife, whether via kissing or oral sex. Does she have immunity to HSV 1 or 2 developing in either area (oral or genital) given her long history of having oral HSV-1? 

Thank you.
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
Terri Warren, RN, Nurse Practitioner
19 months ago
the blisters that you describe may well not even be herpes, difficult to know without swabbing, which you will do. 
Your wife has no immunity to HSV 2.  But it is just extremely unlikely that you contracted HSV 2 by kissing.  HSV 2 doesn't like the oral area at all and when it is there, it rarely recurs, much less every 8 weeks!  You may well have HSV 1 after so long being with your wife, but I strongly doubt that the sores in the roof of your mouth have anything to do with HSV 2.
Good to have them swab tested just to reassure yourself.  And I of course have no idea if you have HSV 2 genitally or not from past exposures But I would be literally shocked if these blisters were HSV 2. I will leave this open so you can post the results of the swab if you wish when you get it done.