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Herpes Type 1
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Herpes Type 1

I am a 44 year old female and had a Herpes Type 1 and 2 Culture taken from my gential (genital) area after experiencing itchiness and burning after I scratched myself and after using an over the counter fungus cream to cure the itch in my genital area before I went to the doctor to get the culture.  This occurred 10 years ago - a year after my only experience with intercourse when I was a 34 year old virgin and my only experience with intercourse to this date.  (I never had anyone perform oral sex on me)  The culture came back negative for Herpes Type II and positive for Herpes Type 1.  I was given Zovorex in pill and cream form.  I went to get a second opinion 3 days later but the rash was gone and therefore there was nothing for the new doctor to culture in order to give me a second opinion.  In the ten years that followed, I did not have another outbreak nor did I have sex in any form.  I think I have had cold sores on my lips and face but am not sure if that is what it is.  The outbreak ten years ago in my genital area was not occompanied with a high fever nor was it accompanied with swolen glands.  However, a week after losing my virginity ten years ago with my boyfriend, I did come down with a urinary tract infection.  When I was a child, though, I had similar rashes (itchiness and burning after scratching in the genital area) but although I was sent to the doctor twice as a child (8 or 9), I was never diagnosed with Herpes Type 1 or 2 and do not know if the rash when I was a child was cultured or not.  (I was a child and was afraid to have the doctor really examine me)  Still, my childhood rashes felt similar to what I experienced ten years ago.  Is there a way I can get cultured again, even though I have not had nother outbreak, to ensure that I did not get a false positive ten years ago?  Could I have spread the virus on myself ten years ago?  Of course, it is possible that my first time lover ten years ago gave it to me as we did have unprotected sex.  I am confused though because I had had similar experiences as a child and now wonder if those childhood rashes were Herpes Type 1 all the time without my knowing it.  Also, if I did indeed spread the virus from my lip to my genital area ten years ago, is it posisble that I would never get another outbreak in the genital area especially since ten years have gone by without incident?  Is there a way to explain this to a new boyfriend (should I meet one) when it may have been a one time occurence?
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Your rash 10 years ago does not sound like herpes, for several reasons:

1.  It occurred after a "scratch."
2.  It was gone 3 days later (herpes takes 7-10 days to disappear.)
3.  The "culture" was back in under 3 days, whereas it usually takes longer to come back.

You understand that none of these connsiderations is definitive.  You might conceivably have had herpes, but keep in mind the following:

a) it is very hard to transmit oral herpes to other parts of your body (if the facial outbreaks are indeed herpes in the first place)
b) if you haven't had a recurrence of whatever it was in 10 years, the chances of transmission are very low anyway

You might consider having herpes antibody tests.  A positive test means nothing--it just means you were exposed to the virus somewhere on your body sometime in your life.  But a negative test means you never were, and that might ease your mind.

If your condition remains indeterminate, you can truthfully tell any new boyfriend that you had an episode which was probably not herpes, and that in any case you haven't had anything in years.  Once your relationship is established, then condoms would no longer be needed.

Don't let this fear stand in the way of considering a new relationship, if the opportunity presents itslef.

Best.

Dr. Rockoff
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