Herpes Expert Forum
Transmission
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Welcome to the Herpes forum. This forum is for questions and support pertaining to herpes simplex virus infections (HSV-1 and 2) and herpes zoster (shingles) and the virus that causes it, varicella zoster virus. Questions about genital herpes are welcome both here and on the STD Forum.

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Transmission

I had a question about herpes occurances and transmission. Can herpes appear in the ears/face only, like HSV1/HSV2? My coworker had a REALLY bad looking sore insider their ear (bigger than a quarter). They said that it's been like that for two weeks, and that they also had a sore appear under their eye and on their face at the same time...only on one side of the face. Nothing lip/mouth related, and they said they don't get cold sores. That's why I'm wondering if it's actually really herpes or not! The facial sores looked healed, but the ear sore was still oozing and red, it even looked like it was bleeding! They had ointment on their ear sore (which was pretty large, and it's in the inside area going towards the ear canal). They said it hurt a lot. My coworker kept picking at it with their finger, and then they grabbed and handled my phone with the hand they were using to pick their ear!! GROSS!! I handled my phone after they touched it, and tried to put sanitizer on my hands and also my phone. Now I feel like they could pass whatever it is they have to me!

My questions are: does it sound like my coworker is having a herpes outbreak? And can they transmit anything to me via items that they touched with their dirty fingers?

We work in the same office, and we touch the same things. Thinking about their fingers with possible viral ear slime touching things that I touch makes me cringe, and I worry about getting whatever it is they have! I know that after they picked their ear sore they had to have had the ointment/ear ooze on their finger. It makes me sick thinking about it. Even going to the restroom grosses me out, because I think of all the things I touched, and worry about whether or not I have the ear ooze on my hands when I touch toilet paper. I can't wash my hands after every, single thing I touch...but it's concerning to me!

What are your expert thoughts because it's driving me nuts. Thank you!
55646_tn?1263664409
Wow.  
Normally, facial herpes does not present all over the face like this. And they aren't reporting ever having had a cold sore.  However, your co-worker could have shingles on their face, which does show up in this pattern more often.  But they could also have a different skin condition completely.  I can understand you not wanting to acquire a skin condition yourself.  However, infections are not often transmitted via inanimate objects.  

It sounds like you are cleaning common surfaces that you share, so I wouldn't worry about using the bathroom.

I'm so sorry, but without knowing what is actually going on with this person's skin, I can't help much.  Have you asked if they've been to the doctor for evaluation of their condition?  This also may be a management concern in your setting if you continue to have worries.

Terri
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Thanks for your fast reply! Yes, I've asked if they've gone to the doctor and they said that they're just waiting for it to go away! They said that they went to bed completely fine a couple of weeks ago, and then the next morning they woke up with the sores! They said that they were baffled, and thought that something had bitten them in their sleep. They said that they've never gotten a cold sore in their life. The sores that they have now, especially the ear, are itchy!

What are shingles, and is that contagious? Should I be at all worried about them being contagious to me in any way? How long does the virus live off of the host? Because I've seen their finger "wet" from their ear after they touch it, and I don't want to unknowingly handle something that has the fresh virus on it. I feel like I'm on lock down!
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55646_tn?1263664409
Shingles are a reactivation of the chicken pox virus.  I'm quite sure you've either had chicken pox or have been vaccinated for it.  If it is shingles (and again I have no idea if it is), then you wouldn't be vulnerable to this.

Too bad they chose not to go to a health care provider.

Terri
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Avatar_f_tn
Well, that's at least good to know. I have had the chicken pox as a small child. So should I just go about my normal business and not worry about it? Even with the touching of the phone/items with the dirty hand? I don't want to be preoccupied with this stuff while I'm trying to work, but I also don't want to expose myself to anything either! I've seen what a cold sore looks like, and that's what it looks like in their ear :(
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55646_tn?1263664409
Because I don't know what's going on with her, I don't think I can give you adequate advice on your concerns, I'm so sorry!

Terri
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Avatar_f_tn
Assuming, for the sake of conversation, it is some sort of herpes on their face/ear, how would I go about my practices in the office (given the information I've already given you about the way they touch their sores) to make sure that I'm not going to expose myself? I don't even want to sure the phones or pick up a pencil! Can you get herpes through casual contact of items after someone who has touched a sore has handled it?
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55646_tn?1263664409
The chances of that are extremely low.  I don't think I am going to speculate on what you should do in your office since more than half of you are already infected with at least one type of HSV.

Terri
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55646_tn?1263664409
Terri Warren, RN, Adult Nurse Pr...Blank
Westover Heights Clinic
Portland, OR
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