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Cold sores to hands and nose
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The STD Forum is intended only for questions and support pertaining to sexually transmitted diseases other than HIV/AIDS, including chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, human papillomavirus, genital warts, trichomonas, other vaginal infections, nongonoccal urethritis (NGU), cervicitis, molluscum contagiosum, chancroid, and pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). All questions will be answered by H. Hunter Handsfield, M.D. or Edward W Hook, MD.

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Cold sores to hands and nose

Doctor,
Sorry for the long post, but I wanted to include a bit of a timeline, to help assess the situation.

- Mid-December - Cold Sore and flu with a lot of coughing - Cold sore cleared 5-7 days later
- Mid January - Cold Sore, it cleared in 5 days
- Cooked homemade sauce and may have splashed left hand while filling jars with hot sauce.
- 3 days after the cold sore healed, 1 day after cooking - itching on my left thumb -  worried it may be herpes, I covered it with a bandaid.
- 3 days after initial itch - it didn't look like a full blown infection, it looked raised and irritated. My husband said it looked like a minor burn.
- TODAY - My thumb look only slightly irritated.
***** BUT***** I woke up this morning with a itch in my nose. I scratched it while getting out of bed, not thinking about it. Then I checked in the mirror and it looked like a raised pimple. It has itched all day and now the "pimple" is gone bit there are a series of red bumps going back into my nostril and a definite white head (different from the initial "pimple") next to the series of bumps. 2 are red and raised, the rest of the bumps look like red irritated hair follicles.

Now that I have given you what I am sure is too much detail...

1. Could I infect/reinfect myself, auto inoculation? Would the flu impact any self protection from prior outbreaks?

2. Can I transfer cold sores to my hands (thumb) or my nose?

3. If I were to follow up with a doctor in the future, would you recommend a GP, a gynecologist or a dermatologist? Or is there another specialist I should go to?

Thank you for the work you do and all the help you have given many via this website.
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Welcome to the Forum. I'll be happy to comment.  Auto-inoculation and transfer of HSV infection from one part of the body to another is not something that people with HSV, whether HSV-1 or HSV-2 experience, irrespective of the location of their lesions.  In your case, this seem particularly unlikely after having had infection and recurring cold sores for 17 years.  The immune response your body built up to the original infection would prevent the sort of spread you describe.  

I suppose there might be a small chance of such a thing happening if one had an open sore which was inoculated but again it seems most unlikely.  

In answer to your specific questions:

1. Could I infect/reinfect myself, auto inoculation? Would the flu impact any self protection from prior outbreaks?
See above.  Most unlikely.

2. Can I transfer cold sores to my hands (thumb) or my nose?
Again, quite unlikely.  Perhaps a very slight possibility of you had a sore or open lesion on your thumb but even then I doubt it.


3. If I were to follow up with a doctor in the future, would you recommend a GP, a gynecologist or a dermatologist? Or is there another specialist I should go to?
If you were to go see someone about this, I would only do so if a lesion was there that could be tested.  In such a case, I would suggest seeing a dermatologist who could do a PCR or culture test.  EWH
6 Comments
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To add...I have been getting cold sores for 17 years.
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Thank you for your response.

A follow up question - I have children and am concerned of passing herpes from my hands (specifically) to them. To clarify, you would not be concerned about my thumb. Would you be concerned passing it on to them?

And as far as my nose goes, would you be concerned?

Thank you again for your responses.
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Again, the issue is one of direct contact. Thus the major site of concen is your mouth and contact with cold sores.  I would not worry about your nose or thumb. Further, perhaps reading between the lines, I urge you not to let your concern of transmission of your HSV-1 to them limit your display of affection for them- just use common sense- no direct contact with yor cold sores.  EWH
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You are right, my main concern is for my little ones. I am pretty sure my thumb did not touch the cold sore (without me washing my hands after), and I didn't have any open cuts (that I know of) at the time.  My main concern was the coughing on my thumb and hand. Is that considered direct contact?

But if I did catch it on my hands I am worried about passing it to them. Often people scratch their noses at night without realizing it. Will I get sores on my hands from that if there are NO cuts or open sores?

I am sorry to continue to ask for clarification. Thank you for your help.
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300980_tn?1194933000
No, coughing on your thumb or hand is not direct contact.  

As I said earlier (and you should know after 17 years), HSV-1 is not going to be spread around your body or to others becasue you scratch your nose at night.  

Try to relax.  You are doing the right things to be careful but, should your kids happen to get HSV-1, it is not the end of the world, as is shown by the fact that over 60% of American adults have the infection.  eWH
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