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Fingering/Fooling around question


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@sjj238 Herpetic infection of the finger is somewhat rare with 2-5 of 100,000 people in the U.S. being infected (by contrast, something like 80,000 of 100,000 are infected orally). The majority of herpetic finger infections are caused by HSV1. Health care workers are at particular risk because they are exposed on an ongoing basis. Children who aggressively chew their fingers are apparently also at risk, as are people with compromised immune systems.

 

So it is not impossible, but it is unlikely. Keep in mind a significant portion of the population has genital herpes and most of them don't know it, so people are unknowingly taking the risk you've described all the time and very rarely developing herpetic lesions on their fingers.

 

If you are more concerned about him spreading your HSV elsewhere via his finger, I believe I've read that's highly unlikely unless he actually touches an active lesion and then touches another vulnerable spot within a very short amount of time, but he could stay on the safe side and refrain from touching other vulnerable places for a minute after fingering you. Perhaps you can discuss the relative risk with him and let him decide what preventive measures, if any, he feels the need to take.

 

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@Bluebetty It's my understanding the virus can live outside of the body for up to 10 seconds, so he would not want to touch an active herpes sore on his partner and then touch a vulnerable area of his body where the virus could potential enter within 10 seconds, nor would he want to touch an active sore with his finger if he had a wound on his finger that would allow the virus to enter his finger.

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Of course no one would do that if they had a way to realize it! But in the real world, it is highly likely that during sex a guy might take his fingers out of a wet vagina and put the same hand on his penis unless you were vigilant enough to make sure it never happens inadvertently. So if the virus can only live outside the body for 10 seconds how does asymptomatic transmission from male to female happen?

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Because asymptomatic transmission is occurring during a sex act (not outside the body) and it's due to shedding. When they say the virus does not live outside the body, they mean without certain conditions it does not survive long. (which is why it isn't spread on towels etc). But if you are putting a mouth or a genital area (which the virus can live on) in contact with an area that may be shedding (but have no signs or symptoms) then it can transmit. Does that make any sense?

 

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@Bluebetty - Typically direct skin-to-skin contact with skin that is shedding the virus asymptomatically. Imagine a woman has teeny tiny microtears in her vagina or on her labia from intercourse or maybe even shaving, in the case of labia, and imagine a male partner's mouth or genitalia are asymptomatically shedding and are in direct contact with the microtears on this female partner's genitalia. And in the case of intercourse, there is also considerable friction to aid in transmission.

 

Keep in mind most adults have oral HSV1 and their mouth comes into contact with many, many parts of a sex partner. Yet most people do not contract HSV1 all over their bodies where they are kissed by their partners. The concept is the same for genitals. If it helps conceptually, fingering someone with HSV2 is similar to putting fingers in the mouth of someone who has HSV1. There is a risk of transmission but it is a risk so low that people generally don't think about it unless they are a health care worker with hands in mouths all day long or unless they are someone with HSV1 or HSV2 with an active lesion in the mouth or on the genitals.

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So, it's pretty safe to say that HSV2 is spread almost exclusively through intercourse (and rarely from oral sex where the receiver is shedding HSV2) correct?

So grateful for the experts on this forum helping reassure those of us who are freaking out that we will never again experience human contact!

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@Bluebetty It's my understanding that it is rare, but not impossible, to spread HSV2 from genitals to mouth, though I certainly would avoid any kind of sexual activity during outbreaks.

 

It's my understanding that only 1% of oral HSV infections are due to HSV2. By contrast, it is believed that roughly half of new genital herpes cases are caused by HSV1, mostly transmitted from mouth to genitals.

 

It's also my understanding that in the rare cases when HSV2 is contracted orally, sometimes there is a primary outbreak (sometimes there is not) but it is exceptionally rare to see a recurring outbreaks of oral HSV2. Additionally, asymptomatic shedding of HSV2 from the mouth is very infrequent.

 

 

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@Bluebetty I'm not an expert, but my understanding is that the virus can live up to 10 seconds, so if someone touches a lesion on/in someone's mouth or genitalia, if there is a point of entry on his/her finger, he/she can become infected. And if he/she touches another vulnerable spot, say a cut on his/her lip, within 10 seconds, he/she may become infected. But it is my understanding that asymptomatic shedding would typically not result in enough virus on the finger for such a transfer to take place.

 

Again, think about how many people have herpes (most people) vs. how many people have herpetic finger lesions. It's not impossible. I've seen at least one or two posts from people on this forum who were infected on a finger. But this falls again into the category of relative risk. If 93% of people in their 40s have HSV1, HSV2 or both, this means most of us are coming into contact with HSV quite frequently. I don't mean to minimize it as I know some people are severely affected, but I'm trying to put the risk in perspective.

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I so often wondered about this myself, and have posed this question before...

Before diagnosis my ex had a lot of foreplay, using a lot of hand and arm rubbing.

He shortly after broke out on his arm (from hand up) in something we've never seen before and it lasted weeks! I often wondered if it could be h.

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Hello. I contracted the Big H from my ex husband. He knew he had it but never disclosed it to me. I was a virgin when we got married. A couple months later I experienced a lot of itching on my left hand, and a sore appeared. I thought it was an insect bite. I went to the doctor and he did a swab test of it. I got the call that change my life forever, I had contracted HSV-1 and HSV-2. I never had cuts on my hand but some how I was able to get it. I never performed oral on him but did put my hand on him. So it is very possible to get it on your hand. I am now remarried and we've been together for 13 years. He has not contracted the Big H thank goodness. If I feel anything we abstain from having any type of contact. So far this has worked for us.

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  • 3 years later...
On 7/29/2016 at 12:47 AM, Leep said:

Hello. I contracted the Big H from my ex husband. He knew he had it but never disclosed it to me. I was a virgin when we got married. A couple months later I experienced a lot of itching on my left hand, and a sore appeared. I thought it was an insect bite. I went to the doctor and he did a swab test of it. I got the call that change my life forever, I had contracted HSV-1 and HSV-2. I never had cuts on my hand but some how I was able to get it. I never performed oral on him but did put my hand on him. So it is very possible to get it on your hand. I am now remarried and we've been together for 13 years. He has not contracted the Big H thank goodness. If I feel anything we abstain from having any type of contact. So far this has worked for us.

Hi Leep, I was just diagnosed with whitlow on my left middle finger which the dermatologist said will recur “often.” I don’t know what type it is (Hsv 1 or 2) but am wondering how many times you have had your whitlow recur? I am terrified that I will have to constantly be wearing bandaids and people will start asking questions. I have no other areas of outbreak, but am also scared to death I will develop it in other areas. Have had this whitlow now for 10 days and can not wait for this to end. I feel like I wake up to a nightmare every day. Please help!

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On 7/28/2016 at 2:32 PM, Bambina3 said:

I so often wondered about this myself, and have posed this question before...

Before diagnosis my ex had a lot of foreplay, using a lot of hand and arm rubbing.

He shortly after broke out on his arm (from hand up) in something we've never seen before and it lasted weeks! I often wondered if it could be h.

Wow! 

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On 7/29/2016 at 12:47 AM, Leep said:

Hello. I contracted the Big H from my ex husband. He knew he had it but never disclosed it to me. I was a virgin when we got married. A couple months later I experienced a lot of itching on my left hand, and a sore appeared. I thought it was an insect bite. I went to the doctor and he did a swab test of it. I got the call that change my life forever, I had contracted HSV-1 and HSV-2. I never had cuts on my hand but some how I was able to get it. I never performed oral on him but did put my hand on him. So it is very possible to get it on your hand. I am now remarried and we've been together for 13 years. He has not contracted the Big H thank goodness. If I feel anything we abstain from having any type of contact. So far this has worked for us.

Wow! When I use to get genital outbreaks, at the same time I use to get a few bumps on this one particular spot on my arm that would tingle! I’m sure I was experiencing the same as you. And when I took my medication, it went away the same time as my outbreak down there. I was always afraid to tell my doctor about it tho, but I used a bandaid to cover it. I would include a picture for comparison if that’s fine with you. So I’m sure I touched myself while having a outbreak & spreading it thru a cut on my skin. 

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