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herpes outbreak on arm question - very concerned

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I have had Herpes for over 10 years. I have HSV-2, but mainly get outbreaks on my arms and legs. I recently had an outbreak on my arm. Yesterday, a friend hugged me and put his hand directly on the area of the outbreak. It has been a week since the initial outbreak and the sores (2) were already scabbed over. Does that mean he is at risk for acquiring it? How long are the sores contagious?


I am in a complete panic over this. I was up all night last night; I'm sick with worry. I normally would wear long sleeves but it was a hot day and I just wasn't expecting to have any physical contact with anyone. I called my doctor and she didn't have information about that kind of transmission. Please help!

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Hello and Welcome!


Odds are you are fine ... it generally takes a sustained contact with an open sore in this kind of case... and/or the other person having compromised skin (open wound/excema/etc.) While I would tell anyone to not have sexual contact while there are still scabs, that is because the scabs could open and the area is moist and there is sustained physical contact ... which is the trifecta for transmission.....


So - Breathe ... while it's not a 100% definite that he wouldn't get it, the odds are VERY slim for transmission. In future, how's about just covering the area with a band-aid or similar? That way you don't have to cook in the summer.... and you can have all the hugs you want ;)



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Thank you so much for your response. It happened so fast - the hug and then feeling his hand on my arm - and I've been crazy with worry ever since. I'm usually exceptionally careful about keeping it covered, but it was the end of the outbreak and I was feeling some relief that it was over and I could wear a t-shirt again. I will definitely make use of band-aids in the future. Thank you again for your response and reassurance.


Is there a rule of thumb for how long the area should be kept covered to protect others? I usually have marks on the outbreak area with some redness around them for two to three weeks after an outbreak. Is it wise to assume it's contagious throughout that time?

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Once the scab falls off you should be fine. Odds are you do shed there once in awhile, but the viral load likely won't be enough to pass it on unless a person is soooo severely immune compromised (as in, Stage 4 Cancer, etc) that they catch everything.


We are around viruses and bacteria all the time ... but we don't get them and in fact, that mild exposure helps us build immunity towards those things. The main difference is that an OB is Shedding on Steroids ... so there is a ton of the virus present and that's why people get it ... too much for the body to kill off before it takes hold. When you are at scab point, esp on the arms where it will stay dry and "sealed", the majority of the virus is contained under the scab. When the scab falls off and you have sealed skin, you should be fine ;)

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